CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 17. . . .January 4, 2013
Normally, CM does not review colouring books as such “books” are usually considered to be individual home, rather than institutional, consumable purchases. However, as the title indicates, Learn All About Hockey Coloring and Activity Book is more than a colouring book - it is a teaching tool about the game of hockey, and it also contains 38 activities (beyond just colouring) to keep young readers engaged.
The volume, which is endorsed by Hockey Canada, has a very, very loose storyline that begins with three members of the Smith family on their way to the local arena where son Smith (only last names are used), a first line center for the Tigers, is going to practice with his teammates. In “hockey card” format and line by line [i.e. first, second and third line forwards and defensive pairings plus goalies], the entire team roster of the Tigers is introduced, including the teams’ two coaches. Given that Smith was only going to a team practice, it is somewhat odd that the book then introduces another “practicing” team, the Mustangs, in the same fashion. As would be expected in today’s multicultural Canada, the players for both teams evidence this nation’s cultural diversity. Both teams each have only one female player, both of whom play left defense on the third line. Somehow, after each team practices, the “plot” transitions to a game between the Tigers and the Mustangs, one that eventually goes to a shootout, with the result remaining unknown to readers.
Since Learn All About Hockey Coloring and Activity Book really doesn’t have a plot and there is no real characterization, who would choose to “read” it? The answer – Newbies to the game of hockey, especially those who don’t know/understand how the sport is played, how teams are structured, the equipment players, including goalies, need to wear (a bit of product placement as all of the equipment carries the Bauer logo), the hockey rink and its “parts”, the game’s rules, and especially hockey’s vocabulary, including the visual “language” or hand signals used by the on-ice officials.
The “learning” portions are “interrupted” by the fun “play” sections which take the form of 10 match games (e.g. "MATCH THE DESCRIPTION TO THE CORRECT HOCKEY TERM”), 6 SPOT THE DIFFERENCES (e.g. “Can you spot the ten differences between this drawing and the one on page 88?”), 6 crossword puzzles (e.g. “HOCKEY ARENA TERMS CROSSWORD”), 4 mazes (e.g. “GOALIE MASK MAZE”), 4 word searches (e.g. “PEOPLE WORD SEARCH), 4 word scrambles (e.g. “UNSCRAMBLE THE LETTERS AND USE THE CLUE TO FIND THE CORRECT HOCKEY TERM”), 2 official’s signal games (e.g. “MATCH THE OFFICIAL’S SIGNAL TO THE CORRECT ACTION OR PENALTY”) and 1 “CONNECT THE DOTS” plus 1 “find ten hockey sticks”. An answer key is provided for all of the activities, with the exception of the dot connection, at the end of the book.
For those who actually want to colour Bailey’s artwork, they will find that he has used a very realistic style, with the exception of the faces which look somewhat cartoonish (Perrault, the female left defense, reminds me of Betty from the Archie comics).
And another audience for Learn All About Hockey Coloring and Activity Book might be found amongst new “hockey moms & dads” who, much to the embarrassment of their hockey savvy offspring, don’t know what the differences are between a “blind pass”, a “breakaway pass” and a “hand pass”.
Recommended with reservations.
Dave Jenkinson, CM’s editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB.
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