________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 19. . . .January 18, 2013



W. C. Mack.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2012.
156 pp., pbk., $6.99.
ISBN 978-1-4431-1942-9.

Grades 6-8 / Ages 11-13.

Review by Jean Nickel.

**˝ /4



Hockey was the game that guys loved the most. Me and my dad both played, but Mum and Wendy never did. Hockey was fast, exciting, and sometimes it got a little rough.

How was a girl supposed to teach me how to play against guys?

And what could I possibly learn from Katie Gunnar that I didn’t already know?


Nugget McDonald’s parents have signed him up for a winter hockey camp starting on Boxing Day, and he has been counting down the days since October. The camp is to be run by Danny Holbrook, a former member of the Canucks, and this is Nugget’s big chance to show off his skating skills to an NHL player. Imagine his shock when he discovers he is being coached by a girl and that his team also consists of girls who are participating in the camp. Too many players have signed up for the camp, and the organization has brought in Olympic gold medalist Katie Gunnar to coach the second group of players. This is the group where Nugget has been placed. As a result, he receives no Holbrook jersey, and he is doing drills instead of playing hockey with his teammates.

     Nugget’s attitude is very negative towards this change, and it takes one of his teammates pointing out that his attitude towards Katie is not so different than the attitude expressed towards his dad when he stepped in to coach. That attitude almost ruined the season for his father and for that group of players. Nugget takes some time to think about what has been said and comes back with a more positive attitude. In doing so, he finds out that he actually starts to enjoy the camp.

     This changed attitude has Nugget taking a serious look at what is happening with the other group of players, and he soon sees that Holbrook is usually on the phone or away from the rink. He also notices the girls in that group are on the bench or in the penalty box and not participating in the camp. He approaches Katie to see if a game could be initiated between the two groups and maybe they could have the girls from Holbrook’s camp play on their team. By the end of the book, Nugget realizes that Katie was an excellent coach, and readers see a vast improvement in Nugget’s attitude and maturity.

     Breakaway is a book I would recommend to students who are interested in a free voluntary read book dealing with hockey. It demonstrates what happens when a bad attitude comes in to the mix and how it can affect the entire team. Breakaway could also be used in a health curriculum where attitudes are discussed.


Jean Nickel is a library technician at the Westglen School in Didsbury, AB.

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

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