CM . . .
. Volume XVII Number 27. . . .March 18, 2011
Jarome Iginla: How the NHL's First Black Captain Gives Back. (RecordBooks).
Toronto, ON: Lorimer, 2010.
111 pp., pbk., hc. & ebook, $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.), $8.95 (ebook).
ISBN 978-1-55277-541-7 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55277-542-4 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-55277-543-1 (ebook).
Iginla, Jarome, 1977- -Juvenile literature.
Black Canadian hockey players-Biography-Juvenile literature.
Grades 5-7 / Ages 10-12.
Review by Clancy Pryde.
The fact that Jarome was different was never far from his mind. He once told ESPN, "What I mostly heard was 'Why are you playing hockey? There are no black players in the NHL. What are your chances?'"
But he wasn't one to give up easily. He thought back to the black heroes of the NHL. They had proven that it didn't matter if someone was black or white. If they had talent, they could make it in the NHL.
Jarome Iginla, the 33-year-old captain of the Calgary Flames hockey team, is the inspirational focus of this sports-themed book aimed at older reluctant readers. Author Nicole Mortillaro has written a play-by-play of Iginla's hockey career, beginning with his early years in the juniors with the Kamloops Blazers and ending with his 2010 Olympic gold medal as a member of Team Canada. But true to the book's subtitle, How the NHL's First Black Captain Gives Back, it also highlights Iginla's strength of character. Remembering how he was inspired by the hockey stars of his youth, Iginla takes his position as role model to young sports enthusiasts very seriously. Through his skilled and confident leadership on the ice and his generous devotion to philanthropic projects in his spare time, Jarome Iginla is presented as a truly great person who will inspire readers as they chase their own athletic dreams.
Because this book is specifically targeted at unenthusiastic readers, the vocabulary is typically limited and unembroidered. Usually this is not a problem, but, unfortunately for this text, Mortillaro leans heavily on the recitation of sports statistics for material. Paragraphs and sentences are somewhat short and clipped as the author recounts dates, goals, assists, points, wins and losses. It is easy to imagine young readers quickly tiring of reading information being presented in prose when it could have simply been arranged in a table.
Jarome Iginla is most enjoyable when the presentation of hard facts gives way to a more flowing narrative about Jarome Iginla's life. The language becomes more colourful and the sentence structure more challenging when the author takes the opportunity to describe Iginla's relationships with his fellow teammates, his determination in the face of adversity, his role as a leader both on and off of the rink and his efforts to give back to his fans through various charities. Mortillaro has used lots of direct quotes from articles from newspapers and magazines, such as the Calgary Sun and Sports Illustrated to enrich her text as well. And text boxes and sidebars are favourably employed to expand on topics that could only be briefly mentioned in the main body of the book without interfering with the focussed journalistic style the author uses.
The volume is an understandably slender 111 pages to keep it manageable for readers, and it includes an index which would be useful to those students using the book for a report. It also has a brief glossary of terms, such as "NHL entry draft," "overtime" and "right wing," which could make the book a possible choice for ESL students who might not have as much knowledge of hockey terminology. As well, there is a variety of black and white photos of Jarome Iginla distributed throughout the book for added interest. This book could definitely not be used, however, as a model for how to cite sources as there is no bibliography included beyond picture credits.
While this book is certainly not an exhaustive biography of Jarome Iginla, it is a sound addition to the "RecordBooks" series about Canadian athletes. Because of the book's narrow scope, some facets of the star's life are mentioned, like his family and his activities beyond charity work, but are never fully developed. More about these areas could potentially have engaged more readers, but Mortillaro's book will still likely find an audience in young hockey fans in the classroom.
Clancy Pryde is a teacher in Toronto, ON.
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