CM . . .
. Volume XVII Number 19. . . .January 21, 2011
The Hilarious History of Hockey.
Helaine Becker. Illustrated by Bill Dickson.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2010.
148 pp., pbk., $6.99.
Grades 5-9 / Ages 10-14.
Review by Thomas F. Chambers.
Once Eddie Shore dropped his gloves and came right at Clancy, ready to rumble. Clancy dropped his gloves, too, but then stuck out his hand and gave Eddie's a shake, saying "Why hello Eddie, how are you tonight?"
Clancy's quick thinking left Shore laughing uncontrollably on the ice, and Clancy's mug unscathed!
Think Shore doesn't sound so tough after all? During one game one of his ears was nearly torn off. He had it stitched up without anaesthetic. He watched in a mirror the entire time to make sure he liked how it looked!
The Hilarious History of Hockey shows how much fun playing hockey can be. The book is divided into chapters corresponding to the periods of a hockey game. These are of varying lengths. Chapter one, the introduction, is called "Game Opener." It is a fanciful introduction to the game of hockey which may, or may not, have originated in ancient Egypt. Similar games, such as the Irish game of hurling, are considered as possible ancestors of hockey. The second chapter, "First Period: The Early Modern Era," gives a history of the game`s formative years from 1887 to 1913. Chapter three, "Second Period: Hockey Enters Its Pimply Teen Years," is about hockey's coming of age and traces the game`s progress up to the 1970s. The fourth chapter, "Third Period: The Modern Era Begins," starts with the 1972 Summit Series between the Soviet Union and Canada and ends with the early years of the 21st century. The book ends with a half page "Post-Game Analysis."
The book contains many bits of hockey trivia. One example, 'Game Highlight,' mentions that the oldest hockey stick sold for $2,000,000 in 2006. The three central chapters each contain two pages of cartoons. In "First Period," these are called 'Great Moments in Hockey History' and illustrate the journey of the Dawson City Nuggets to Ottawa to play the Ottawa Hockey Club for the Stanley Cup in 1905. In addition, the book is illustrated throughout with many humorous black and white drawings. To show how silly the game can be, lists of nicknames of many former players, such as "Old Bootnose" Sid Abel and Alf "the Embalmer" Pike, are included. A mini dictionary, "Hilarious Hockey Terms," has definitions of nine terms including Waffle and Zebra.
Considerable research was required for the writing of The Hilarious History of Hockey. It contains a treasure trove of historical data. An index helps to make it a valuable resource for young hockey fans. A list of the sources used would have been an invaluable addition. Even without one, The Hilarious History of Hockey is suitable for recreational reading.
Helaine Becker, the author, has written more than forty children's books as well as articles for children's magazines and TV shows. She is a woman with a gift for seeing the humour in everything, and she once wrote a poem, 'The Ode To Underwear,' which was performed on CBC radio by the Irish Descendants.
Bill Dickson, the illustrator of The Hilarious History of Hockey, has many similar works to his credit, including Crazy Canadian Trivia and Famous Dead Canadians. His illustrations are a perfect fit with Becker's text and add a great deal to the book's humour.
Thomas F. Chambers, a retired college teacher, lives in North Bay, ON.
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