________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 21. . . .June 13, 2008


Chief Honor. (Orca Sports).

Sigmund Brouwer.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2008.
166 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-55143-915-0.

Subject Heading:
Hockey stories, Canadian (English).

Grades 5-10 / Ages 10-15.

Review by Libby McKeever.

***½ /4



The others crowded in.

"Was there a fight in the bench?"

"Why did Lauren Cross leave the game?"

"Who's a better goalie? You or her?

These guys didn't know I had learned plenty about dealing with newspeople. This was playing marbles with little kids compared to heat I had taken back home during the summer. Nothing these sports reporters could do would rattle me. Nothing they asked could get a reaction out of me.


Joseph (Gump) Larsen is as skilled as a goalie as he is when dealing with reporters. After his preacher-father was imprisoned for embezzling church funds, Gump (the Grump) has developed a tough exterior to try and cope with journalists and their prying questions. Gump is confident of his place as goalie with the Spokane Chiefs, even when Lauren Cross, a talented female goalie, is given ice-time during the last exhibition game prior to the season's beginning.

     There are still players who will be cut before the season begins, and Lauren blames Gump for jeopardizing her chances when she is given hot chocolate spiked with Ex-lax. Not wanting to inform on the teammate who is actually responsible, Gump chooses to ignore Lauren. Then, when US border guards find illegal steroids in Lauren's hockey bag, she is tossed off the team, and Gump is relieved. Shortly after this incident, Gump is benched when a serious injury forces him off the ice.

I relaxed. The ref had blown the whistle. The puck was in my glove. I'd made a big, big save.

The guys cleared out in front of me.

I stood.

At least, I tried to stand.

The dull pain was still in my thigh. I wobbled to my feet. I fell. I tried to get to my feet again. I fell.

This wasn't good. I wasn't falling because of a Bambi prank. There was no tape on my skate blades. I was falling because something was wrong in the muscles of my left thigh. There have been times that I've been cut and not felt anything. For me to even feel a dull pain, there had to be something terribly wrong.

On the third try to get to my feet, I fell and decided it would be smarter to lie on the ice until they took me away.

     Al Handley, the team's affable assistant coach, is someone Gump feels he can trust. When Lauren suggests it is Al who set her up by planting illegal steroids in her hockey bag, Gump is less than impressed. Lauren goads Gump into helping her find out who is responsible. Reluctantly, he agrees to help Lauren by spying on his mentor. Although slightly hampered by Gump's injury, the pair set out together to prove Al's innocence and get Lauren reinstated on the team. They both need to rely on trust and teamwork to solve this mystery as they enter the dangerous world of ambition, greed, and illegal drugs.

      While employing the themes of hockey, loyalty, Christian values, and drugs used in sports, Sigmund Brouwer has created a compelling story in Chief Honor. Brouwer cleverly builds the mystery behind the drug scandal and delivers a surprising and satisfying culmination to the story. Readers of sports and mystery novels will enjoy this high-interest story.

      Sigmund Brouwer is the best-selling author of many books for children and young adults, including titles in the "Orca Currents" and the "Orca Sports" series. In 1993, he co-founded The Young Writer's Institute to encourage children and youth who aspire to a career in writing.

Highly Recommended.

Libby McKeever is a library technician who works at the Whistler Public Library and at Whistler Secondary School in Whistler, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364
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