CM . . .
. Volume XVIIII Number 2. . . .September 14, 2012
Podium Sports Academy, a new series authored by Lorna Schultz, is designed to address the trials and decision-making that teens deal with while figuring out who they are and what they stand for. With the plots based around life at an elite sports school, students deal with boy-girl issues and keeping their grades up while working to perfect their athleticism, personal growth and social standing.
After much begging and many promises to keep up his grades up, Aaron Wong is finally at the Podium Sports Academy. His parents reluctantly allowed him to billet with a non-Chinese family and play his dream sport, hockey, which they view as a gladiator war. Aaron finds himself on new ground on many levels. He doesn’t know anyone and must choose his friends wisely. He is living with people who are very different from his own family. He is meeting and liking girls and experiments with dating, kissing, dancing and drinking.
On the ice, Aaron faces off with the team captain who is not as honourable as the coach thinks. Aaron works hard to demonstrate his skills so he can improve his standing on the team. Unfortunately, there is a rookie hazing party that everyone must attend and never speak about. Aaron is singled out for the most barbaric torture by the team captain. The other boys are reluctant to allow the act but afraid to speak against their leader. Aaron manages to escape with the help of some friends but is embarrassed and questions his manhood. Gradually, he learns who he can and cannot trust but still puts off telling his coach about the problem.
It is interesting that, while many books written for this level exclude parents and even have one or both of them dying, this book demonstrates that parents and other adults can help a teen when s/he needs it most. The importance of teamwork on the ice, while studying, or with relationships or with adults is the important underlying message this book has to offer. Author Schultz has managed to do this in an exciting way, making it hard to put the book down.
This first book would attract both reluctant and avid readers. The sports theme adds excitement to the story. Each book in the series will deal with the individual characters introduced in this first book and will address their particular sport and personal issues. The series promises to be a hit with both boys and girls, sports-minded or not, and will fill the need for sports fiction at middle and senior years school libraries.
Sherry Faller is a retired teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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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.