________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 11. . . .November 13, 2009


Rebel Power Play. (Game Time).

David Skuy.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2009.
259 pp., pbk., $9.99.
ISBN 978-0-545-98625-0.

Subject Heading:
Hockey stories, Canadian (English).

Grades 6-8 / Ages 11-13.

Review by Myra Junyk.

**½ /4


Off the Crossbar. (Game Time).

David Skuy.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2009.
218 pp., pbk., $9.99.
ISBN 978-0-545-98624-3.

Subject Heading:
Hockey stories, Canadian (English).

Grades 6-8 / Ages 11-13.

Review by Myra Junyk.

**½ /4



The dressing room door was open. Charlie heard the guys laughing and shouting at each other. He usually relished the locker room banter. That was part of the fun of playing. Not here, though. To him this was hostile territory. No friends here. He was an outsider.

Charlie walked in feeling self-conscious. Jake, Matt and Liam sat together at the far end. Mike was near the door. He chose Mike, and threw his bag next to him.

"There's room on the other side," Mike said with a sneer.

"Sorry," Charlie muttered, quickly unzipping his bag.

Mike growled quietly and shook his head, but he pushed over to give Charlie some space. Charlie tried to appear nonchalant, but inside he fought to stay relaxed and look cool. He would have given almost anything to be somewhere other than in this dressing room. Nothing to do about it now, he told himself, pulling his skates out. (From
Off the Crossbar.)

Charlie had never heard anyone speak with such confidence.

"How many players are you looking for?" Charlie asked.

"I've signed a few. But I need at least ten more solid players – guys with real potential and the right attitude. If you guys think you fit the bill, give it a shot. Tryouts start in two days. Team's called the Hawks. Take my card and give me a call if you're interested."

He gave a bunch of cards to Charlie, flipped his keys in his hand, winked and went back to his car. The engine roared and he set off at high speed, the tires screeching as he pulled away. No one said a word until he was out of sight.

He looked at the card: Tom Dunn, President, Dunn's Sportsmart. (From
Rebel Power Play.)


In David Skuy's novel Off the Crossbar, Charlie Joyce is the new kid in town. After Charlie's father dies in a freak accident, the Joyce family moves to Terrence Falls where Charlie's mother is opening a new café. On Charlie's first day at his new school, he angers the local bully, Jake Wilkenson, who is in his grade nine home room. However, the day is not a total disaster because his home room teacher, Mr. Hilton, announces that he is going to coach the junior hockey team. Charlie decides to try out for the team.

     Facing constant harassment by Jake and his pals, Charlie tries to make the best of his hockey experience. Eventually, the two enemies decide to call a truce for the sake of the team. Charlie also starts to make friends on his team. He defends Pudge from Jake's bullying, and, as a result of this new friendship with Pudge, Charlie is chosen as captain of the junior hockey team by his teammates. Jake is furious and vows revenge. At the final tournament, the feud between Charlie and Jake erupts, changing the outcome of the game.

      In Skuy's second novel, Rebel Power Play, Charlie Joyce finds himself without a hockey team at the beginning of hockey season. Even though he has just moved to Terrence Falls, Charlie still hopes to find a spot in Triple – A or Double A- hockey. Just when it looks hopeless, he meets Tom Dunn, Mike's father, who is starting a team. Not only does Charlie want to try out, but he also encourages his friends to try out as well.

      When his friends all make the team, Charlie discovers that Mike Dunn is getting preferential treatment from his father. When Charlie speaks up for one of his teammates, Mr. Dunn removes Charlie from the team. His friends protest and are also removed. As a result, Dunn cannot field an effective hockey team. His new team is lackluster and loses games. Dunn decides to fold the team and pull out of the league.

      Charlie sees this as an opportunity to play in the league once more. He brings his friends together to form a new team – The Rebels. They manage to find sponsorship and practice time. At first, they have some success. Without a coach though, the team flounders. Charlie persuades his teacher, Mr. Hilton, to coach them, and things start looking up. However, when Jake and Charlie get into a fight on the ice which results in a concussion for Charlie, he decides to quit the game. Will his desire to support his team or his frustration win out in the end?

      David Skuy writes effectively about the game of hockey. Readers feel as if they are on the ice with the players. Skuy uses diagrams of hockey plays to help readers understand strategies suggested by coaches and players. His lengthy detailed descriptions will definitely appeal to readers who enjoy playing and watching the game. However, readers new to the game may struggle to understand Skuy's hockey terminology and strategy.

      Charlie Joyce is a sympathetic character who grows in athletic skill and maturity throughout the two novels. Faced with Jake's bullying behavior, Charlie tries to rise above it. Soon realizing that he must stand up for himself against this bullying, he builds friendships with his teammates and tries to avoid Jake and his gang. Charlie enjoys playing the game so much that he even creates a new team in Rebel Power Play and finds a way to continue playing in the hockey league despite the odds against him. His determination and strong hockey skills make him a leader on the ice.

      David Skuy's two novels, Off the Crossbar and Rebel Power Play, explore the fascinating world of teenage hockey. Skuy explores the themes of bullying, grief, peer pressure, family and friendship. In this world of athletic competition, Skuy's key message to readers is: "Like any true athlete, Charlie hated to lose."


Myra Junyk, who lives in Toronto, ON, is a literacy advocate and author.

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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