CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 24 . . . . February 24, 2012
Playing Like Timothy is the story of a young boy who plays goalie for his hockey team, but he plays the position so poorly that he’s constantly being teased by his teammates and opposing players. The teasing has now reached such a hurful point that Timothy is considering quitting hockey entirely. When Timothy’s mother picks up on his downcast mood, he confesses:
To help Timothy overcome his fear of fast shots, Mom, who, in her childhood days, had played hockey with her brothers “behind the hog barn,” shoots tennis balls at him, initially slowly and then with increasing speed until Timothy is able to track and block or catch most of the balls. By the end of their practice session, an excited Timothy exclaims, “ I can’t wait to play with the Mandlen tomorrow....I’ll bet they’ll be surprised.” And the next day, Timothy backstops his team to a 4-1 victory. “It’s his very first win”, and the result causes Timothy’s teammates to reevaluate him: “Suddenly you’re a pretty good goalie.”
What separates Waldner’s story about a goaltender’s being afraid of a speeding puck from other picture books having the same theme, such as Mary Shaw’s Brady Brady and the Runaway Goalie, is that Waldner sets his story in a Hutterite colony. Both Waldner and the book’s illustrator, Victor Kleinsasser, are Hutterites who live in different Hutterite communities in Manitoba. Other than the inclusion of a few German words, nothing in Waldner’s text really indicates that the book’s setting is anything other than mainstream Canada. However, Kleinsasser’s illustrations, in which the boys wear plaid shirts and black pants held up by braces while the girls/women are attired in long skirts and have their hair covered by black kerchief style head coverings, make clear that the setting is not one that will be familiar to many urban Canadians, especially those in eastern Canada as Hutterite colonies are more common on the Prairies.
While the book has a glossary on the last page that provides an English translation of the seven German words/phrases that are used in the book, given that Playing Like Timothy is a picture book meant for recreational reading, an explanatory footnote at the bottom of the page where the term was used would have been more effective.
An editor also needed to pay much more attention to the “continuity” in Kleinsasser’s illustrations which show Timothy playing in net. When readers first encounter Timothy in goal on a double-page spread, he is holding his stick in his right “blocker” hand while wearing his catching glove on his left hand. However, the first image of him when he is practising with his mother reverses the placement of the stick and catching glove as does the book’s penultimate image. Possibly these errors were a production mistake as the writing of the word “eggs” on a box in the first “mistake” page is in “mirror” writing. Nonetheless, these errors should have been caught as well as the spelling error on the book’s first page. (See excerpt above).
While Playing Like Timothy will certainly find an audience amongst Hutterite children, the book also deserves to be available to a wider audience who may be unfamiliar with this community.
In his childhood, Dave Jenkinson lived in Grosse Isle, MB, which was just one-mile east of the Rock Lake Hutterite Colony.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.