CM . . .
. Volume XVI Number 16. . . .December 18, 2009
An African proverb says that it takes a village to raise a child, but how many people does it take to raise a hockey player (or, at least, an ardent hockey fan)? I don’t know the exact number, but I suspect that, to be done properly, the process begins with one person - a woman “with child.” She must first subscribe to the NHL Network (Canada) and then watch every available game during the months of her pregnancy so that the fetus can hear the games while still in the womb. Upon birth, the child should then wear hockey-themed diapers (Don’t laugh. They apparently exist) and be housed in her/his own hockey-themed “dressing room” (aka baby’s room). And the child’s first word should not be “Mama” or “Dada” but “Puck.” Of course, the toddler should also be taught the national anthem. No, not “O’Canada,” but the other one, Stompin’ Tom Connors’s “Hockey Night Tonight.” Of course, really caring parents will not wait until their infant is born to begin the process of her/his learning Stompin’ Tom’s anthem because they will have been playing one of Stompin’ Tom’s albums containing the song as 24/7 background music.
For those toddlers who learn better via visual stimuli, rather than through an auditory stimulus, Nimbus has provided “Hockey Night Tonight” in a board book format. The lyrics, likely familiar to most adults (at least those who are hockey afficionados), are illustrated by Brenda Jones’ cartoon-like illustrations. Jones’ scenario finds a family (mother, father, pre-adolescent daughter and infant) who, armed with snacking foods, are gathered around their living room TV to watch the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens play the last and deciding game of the Stanley Cup playoffs. It’s a home divided (at least for this evening) as daughter wears a Leafs’ jersey while her Dad is sporting a Habs’ cap. Mom, whose clothing is team neutral, seems to share her husband’s anxiety (or perhaps, she just knows that he’s a poor loser). Ironically, the baby, who is still at the crawling stage, is paying absolutely no attention to the televised hockey game, electing instead, in this parent-distracted environment, to annoy the family cat, play with the telephone receiver and get a face wash from the family pooch. A Leaf’s win finds the daughter imagining the day that she, too, will drink from the Stanley Cup while Dad does a slow burn.
Jones, whose animation background is evident, does an excellent job in interpreting Stompin’ Tom’s lyrics, but the ”story” is much too sophisticated to be the content of a true board book targeted at a toddler audience. While libraries can safely pass on this board book, it will undoubtedly be purchased by “village” adults for home (and gift) use.
Recommended with reservations.
Dave Jenkinson, CM’s editor lives in Winnipeg, MB, where he awaits the April birth of his fourth grandchild who will be the beneficiary of this review copy and will then truly begin to get her/his budding teeth into hockey.
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