CM . . .
. Volume XVII Number 15. . . .December 10, 2010
Winning Gold: Canada's Incredible 2002 Olympic Victory in Women's Hockey. (Recordbooks).
Lorna Schultz Nicholson.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2010.
111 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55277-472-4 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55277-473-1 (hc.).
Women hockey players-Canada-Juvenile literature.
Winter Olympic Games (19th: 2002: Salt Lake City, Utah)-Juvenile literature.
Hockey-Canada-History-21st century-Juvenile literature.
Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.
Review by Julie Chychota.
No other goals were scored in the second period. The buzzer went and the Canadians went to their dressing room down by a goal.
The crowd murmured in the stands.
Between periods, the media barraged Hockey Canada President Bob Nicholson.
"What's happening to women's hockey?"
"Why are they losing?"
"Will you have to make changes to your women's program?"
He replied to the media with the comment: "The last I heard there were three periods to a hockey game. Come see me when the game is over."
The cover of Winning Gold includes the explanatory subtitle, Canada's Incredible 2002 Olympic Victory in Women's Hockey. Beginning with the Canadian Women's National Hockey Team's disheartening eight straight pre-Olympic losses, author Lorna Schultz Nicholson captains her readers, match by match, through the team's uphill battle to its illustrious finish. Like the Canada-Soviet Summit Series of 1972, the 2002 Olympic Canada-USA Women's gold-medal game has become a touchstone for Canadian fans. The author's hope is that the indomitable spirit exemplified by the Canadian Women's Team will inspire all readers to stay positive amidst adversity as they pursue their own personal goals.
If Winning Gold seems more appropriate for readers 8 to 10-years-old than the 11 and up suggested by the press release, there is a logical explanation for the apparent discrepancy. Winning Gold is part of Lorimer's "Recordbooks" line-up, an imprint which focuses on "non-fiction sports bios/issues for reluctant readers ages 11 and up." The "and up" clears the way for adults, too, to pick up this book, say supportive parents or participants in literacy and ESL programs. Like the rest of the titles in the publisher's online catalogue, Winning Gold demonstrates Lorimer's commitment to publish Canadian content by Canadian writers for a Canadian audience.
A journalistic style marks Winning Gold, from its newsprint-textured pages right down to its short-short paragraphs and sentence fragments. Such a style is not incidental, for the book is peppered with quotations from Canadian newspapers, such as The Globe and Mail, The Calgary Sun, The Toronto Star, The Winnipeg Free Press, and The Saskatoon Leader Post. While the occasional sentence fragment or one-sentence paragraph admittedly could serve as the literary equivalent of a hockey stop and quick start, to switch narrative direction, penalties for tripping should be issued in most instances. Non-fiction books, even for "reluctant readers," should abide by the rules of grammatical conduct.
In general, Schultz Nicholson refrains from embellishment, presenting just the ice-cold, hard facts. Consequently, it's a pleasant change in stride when the objective, reporterly tone trades nondescriptness for playfulness in the sidebars. For instance, "Eight-and-Uh-oh!" is the heading that recaps the USA's eight wins to Canada's zero in the pre-Olympic set (p. 20), while the "fast" in "Fast Forward Facts" refers not only to the speed of the four players named there, but also to the conciseness of the fascinating facts about them (p. 54). Another six sidebars highlight additional information pertaining to such things as the team roster (p. 38) and the introduction of women's hockey to the Olympics (p. 82).
This compact, 111-page book benefits from the author's credibility and connections. First, Schultz Nicholson is an established author; she has written 15 other books on hockey, according to her Website www.lornaschultznicholson.com. Furthermore, as spouse to the President of Hockey Canada, she has netted a seat in the Olympic stands, access to Hockey Canada's records, and direct access to the players. In fact, Schultz Nicholson acknowledges her debt to Sami Jo Small for the use of the goalie's scrapbook documenting the team's 2002 Olympic journey. No doubt at least some of the newspaper headlines and quotations may be traced back to scrapbook entries. Meanwhile, Hockey Canada receives credit for the cover's colour photographs and the 13 black-and-white photographs positioned throughout the text.
For such a dimensionally small book, Winning Gold is decidedly ambitious. Its back matter sports not only a glossary but an index as well. The glossary contains 18 entries, including "breakaway," "high sticking," and "stood-on-her-head" (but not "icing" or "offside"). An index would not be essential, yet it certainly makes it easier to pinpoint the mention of specific players, positions, countries, or organizations. Even so, one can't help feeling that Canada's official winter sport deserves a product with more polish, something akin to Harbour Publishing's Goals and Dreams: A Celebration of Canadian Women's Soccer (2005).
It might come as a surprise that such a book was not published six or seven years ago when the 2002 victory was still fresh. Perhaps a demand for it did not fully materialize until now; the first publication under the Canada-centric "Recordbook" imprint was only released in 2006, after all. Fortunately, the intervening years have strengthened the interest in women's hockey: First, Schultz Nicholson's epilogue points to an increase in registration in women's and girl's hockey programs across the country since the 2002 Olympics. Second, the Canadian Women's Team subsequently won gold both in 2006 and 2010. Third, the Hockey Hall of Fame recently inducted its first two women hockey players. Consequently, the timing for the book is right for right now.
All things considered, it's clearly time to check the idea that hockey is a sport reserved for men. However, women do not yet enjoy equality of opportunity, if one attends to the subtext of Winning Gold's concluding paragraph:
Young girls playing hockey now have something to strive for. They can try to excel and become National Team players. "Now, young girls have the Olympics," said Hayley [Wickenheiser]. "That's our Stanley Cup."
Despite positive gains, there is room for improvement and expansion. As for the Canadian Women's National Hockey Team, they will always have Salt Lake City.
Julie Chychota, a transplanted Manitoban in Ottawa, ON, still secretly hopes that the Winnipeg Jets may yet one day return to Winnipeg.
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