CM . . .
. Volume XVII Number 5. . . .October 1, 2010
Tim Horton: From Stanley Cups to Coffee Cups. (Larger Than Life).
Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2010.
72 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $22.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55455-046-3 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55455-148-4 (hc).
Hockey players-Canada-Biography-Juvenile literature.
Grades 3-8 / Ages 8-13.
Review by Todd Kyle.
After staying a while and having a drink with Ron Joyce, perhaps to ease his pain, he got into his car and drove. He drove fast. He had always loved fast cars. On this late night, speed, alcohol, medication, and fatigue overwhelmed the giant. We can learn much from Tim's career, values, and hard work. Regrettably, we can also learn from his death. A few mistakes ended his life and career. We shall never know what other experiences and accomplishments might have lain before him. His life was full but very short.
A sports biography from the "Larger Than Life" series, Tim Horton is packed full of details about Horton's life, from his underprivileged childhood, to his early struggles in hockey, to his business career, family, and friendships. Photos are many – often in colour – and the portrait painted is of a man of immense accomplishment who, nonetheless, struggled with very human problems and worked as hard as any father and businessman. The fast pace of the description of famous hockey games is sure to be a draw to young readers, as are the stories of Tim's struggle against odds – such as his very surprising vision problems!
Yet the writing style is often choppy, and although the book can be expected to sound reverential, it does skirt hero worship occasionally, as in the above example. The many sidebars are often interesting and illustrative, but there are occasions where the sidebar is longer than the main text and seems to repeat it rather than highlighting an interesting fact or another angle. The cliché of "coffee at Tim's" as a defining Canadian phenomena is a little overused, and the portrait of Horton's death in a car accident seems to explain it as being caused by circumstance (painkillers and fatigue) rather than a human mistake (impaired driving). Overall, however, the dogged hard work of Horton's life is presented with credibility, and the book is indispensable in any Canadian non-fiction collection.
One small note: some readers may object to the constant spelling of "doughnuts" as "donuts" – but that is the restaurant's spelling.
Todd Kyle is the CEO of the Newmarket Public Library in Ontario and has served on the jury of a number of children's literature awards.
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