CM . . .
. Volume XVII Number 23. . . .February 18, 2011
The Rink Rats.
Irene Punt. Illustrated by Ramón Pérez.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2010.
82 pp., pbk., $5.99.
Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.
Review by Ruth McMahon.
Suddenly, Tom had a mega brainwave. He caught Stuart, Jordan and Mark's attention. "Hey, let's be Groundhog Fred's friends for our friendship project! Reporting the weather to our class will help everyone – especially the Hawks – because we need to watch the weather for our rink."
"Woo hoo! The four of us will four-cast the weather! Get it?" laughed Mark, holding up four fingers. The Rink Rats help the rodent!"
A few minutes later, the boys gathered around the science table. Tom studied the five-day weather forecast in the newspaper. "Today is... mainly cloudy with flurries," he reported. "That means we might need to shovel the snow before our hockey practice."
Stuart checked the outside temperature on the thermometer. "It's zero," he said. "That's freezing. Good for ice. But not cold enough for flooding tonight."
In the fourth adventure of Tom and his hockey playing friends, the boys undertake the project of building and maintaining an outdoor rink. This activity doubles as their 'friendship project' for school as they do the research on the weather to determine the optimal conditions for flooding the rink and keeping abreast of the precipitation in order to keep the ice clear. The boys have also volunteered to host their team's annual "Family Day" hockey game at their outdoor rink.
As in previous titles in this series, hockey is the main "character." The characters don't grow much over the course of the story. Their conflicts are minor and quickly forgotten. Their Good Samaritan act of shovelling for a neighbour is rewarded with rinkside seats to see the Calgary Flames play against Sidney Crosby's team, the Penguins.
As the holder of a Bachelor of Music, I couldn't help but notice the musical references. Punt made up words that would fit with the tunes of 'popular songs.' Of the four that I tested on my 12-year-old and eight-year-old, two of them were recognizable – one Disney one Queen. The other two went over their heads – in spite of one being a version of "It ain't gonna rain no more".
As mentioned in reviews of earlier titles in this series, it is a straightforward read for early chapter book readers, and the hockey action carries the story along. The classroom activities of research and group project work may be strong enough to keep the non-hockey players interested in the story. Punt's use of humour, notably the puns, is age appropriate and will be appreciated by her readers.
Ruth McMahon is a professional children's librarian working in a middle school, the co-chair of the Rocky Mountain Book Award, and the mother of two children.
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