________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 18 . . . . January 13, 2012


Two Minutes for Roughing. (Sports Stories).

Joseph Romain.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2010.
112 pp., pbk., $9.95.
ISBN 978-1-55277-573-8.

Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.

Review by J. Lynn Fraser.

*** /4


How does a child negotiate relationships with adults and his or her peers? If a child is coping with the changes divorce brings to his or her world, what social skills does the child need to develop? In his book Two Minutes for Roughing, Joseph Romain explores a period of personal growth in young Lester Lewchuck's life.

      There are bullies in Lester's life, Roddy and Lenny, whom Lester describes as Neanderthal Man and Peking Man respectively. There is also Lester's new friend, Mickey Tanaka, a female member of the Metro Cats hockey team that Lester will join. Mickey will both encourage and teach Lester many important lessons:

Well, besides," - I was thinking fast, I wasn't sure I wanted to join a hockey team - "I don't have the gear." [...]

"No problem. I've got brothers. They're bigger than you, but that's good, 'cause they won't notice when I borrow their old stuff. So it's on."

...Between now and then, I'll make a hockey player out of you.

And that's how I met Mickey Tanada, and how I changed from the invisible new kid to a rookie right winger for the Metro Cats Hockey Club.

      Mickey teaches Lester about keeping his balance in hockey and in his team relationships. When Lester takes a cheap shot at Roddy while playing hockey, Mickey scolds him:

"He's a jerk," I said, sort of proud of myself.

"He's your centreman. When the time clock starts, he's a centreman, and that's all he is. After the game, he's a jerk, or whatever you want. . . . You don't knock him down and shoot the puck at him." She was serious. She was right, too.

      Mr. Johnson, a neighbour and former hockey player, also teaches Lester lessons about hockey and life's harder lessons:

"I've see guys like Lenny Smith before," he said. "I don't know what to do about them. They take over. They take all the fun and keep it to themselves. I've always just stayed out of their way, myself. I'm not recommending that you slink away from them . . . I just let them know that I don't care much about them one way or another. . . .I'm just sayin' that you can't beat'em at their own game. You've gotta play your game. Use what you've got."

      There are many important teaching points in this easy to read book. The insightful young reader may pause to reflect on the individuals in his or her life and the life lessons garnered from those individuals. The author uses hockey as an important and easily understood metaphor to explain life lessons to his young readers.

      Told from Lester's perspective, the reader learns about his relationship with his parents:

My dad is a quiet guy. Most of the time he reads. . . . He's always got his nose between the covers of a book about oriental carpets, or religion, or something or other. A lot of the time when he talks to me, I don't know what he's talking about. It doesn't stop him though. He just goes on and I pretend to understand.

When my mom and dad separated, they told me that I still had two parents, only they weren't going to live together. It was starting to feel like we all had separate lives.

      The reader also learns that Lester is not doing as well in school as he should, but over time he works through his feelings and builds coping skills and honest open relationships with the people in his life. With the support of his family and friends, Lester learns from his mistakes, including almost being charged with arson, and all areas in his life improve.

      Lester Romain imparts wisdom through the realistic situations and dialogue he creates for the reader. Two Minutes for Roughing is a worthwhile and entertaining read that has depth and humour.

Highly Recommended.

A Toronto, ON, resident, J. Lynn Fraser is a freelance writer and editor.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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