CM . . .
. Volume XIV Number 21. . . .June 13, 2008
The Funny Faceoff.
Irene Punt. Illustrated by Ken Steacy.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2008.
74 pp., pbk., $5.99.
Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.
Review by Tanya Boudreau.
"Hey, Mark. Wait up!"
Mark had earphones in his ears and his brother's iPod stuck in his pocket. He turned down the music. "Wait till you guys see what I have in my hockey bag."
They made their way down the hall behind the spectator bleachers to the dressing room, where they propped up their sticks in the corner. The room was crowded.
"C'mon! C'mon!" said Tom. "Let's see!"
Mark reached into his bag. He pulled something out.
"What's that?" Tom asked.
Mark flopped down the sides and sat it upright. He took the iPod out of his pocket and placed it in the slot. "These are mini-speakers. But they make mega sound. Listen to this…" He pressed the volume arrow up.
The Glenlake Hawks have a new team song. The lyrics may be funny, but the song helps members of the hockey team feel confident and proud. The song, which starts with the lyrics "we are the champions of the rink," has been in Tom's head ever since he first heard it. He thinks about it when he's warming up for the game, he hears it in his head during the game, and he sings it out loud after the game. As distracting as that sounds, the song does help diminish Tom's pre-game jitters, and it comes in handy when he needs to remind himself and his teammates about their other skills.
Tom and his friends love hockey. They play well as a team, and they have fun after the games. But they work well together off the ice, too. When a situation calls for it, they use teamwork to help each other out. Jordan is a fantastic goalie, but he has a hard time writing and speaking in class. Wanting to help his friend and teammate, Tom gives Jordan the encouragement and the ideas he needs to finish his assignments. Throughout this book, Tom and his friends see how working as a team, both on and off the ice, has its benefits. The team knows how to use what they learn every day on the ice to help others in need- whether it's a classmate, a friend, or even a stranded dog.
Unfortunately, friends who understand each other sometimes are not understood by the adults around them. One song Tom and his friends sing in class gets them sent to the principal's office. But Jordan, who worked so hard for a new shutout record in hockey, speaks up and tells his side of the story. By learning to express himself, Jordan clears up a miscommunication between the students and the adults.
Irene Punt, a former teacher who has written scripts for television and stage, is also the author of The Wicked Slapshot and The Bop. Young readers interested in sports stories will enjoy reading The Funny Faceoff. The action that takes place on the ice is just as interesting to read as the action taking place off the ice.
Ken Steacy is a comic book artist. His black and white illustrations in The Funny Faceoff can be found on every second or third page. The majority of the illustrations show Tom and his friends together in school or in the hockey arena. Other illustrations include drawings of Mrs. Wong, the teacher, Dr. Dean, the principal, and Coach Howie, the Glenlake Hawks' coach. Although a few of the illustrations show the frustrating and difficult situations the friends find themselves facing, most of the illustrations are bustling with activity and showcase the fun these friends have together.
Tanya Boudreau is a librarian at the Cold Lake Public Library in Cold Lake, AB.
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