CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 5 . . . . October 5, 2012
Harry is a 14-year-old cricket star thriving in the prairie city of Winnipeg. Harry enjoys the attention he gets being a cricket player in a town where cricket is an unusual game to play because “… cricket gave him an air of mystery that he liked. And so few kids played cricket in Winnipeg that Harry got noticed for his talent all the time. That mattered to him.”
When his dad gets a research grant to study disaster recovery and his parents decide to move to Haiti for six months, Harry moves to Toronto to live with his grandfather while they are gone. This is great because Harry can continue to play cricket. This is scary because everyone else plays cricket, and he soon realizes that he may not be as special in the big city. More than anything, Harry wants to make his school’s varsity team. When he realizes that he may not be as good a player as he thought he was, he decides he may have to impress the coach by volunteering to help him with his passion – coaching the community’s Kanga league – cricket’s version of little league. Although Harry starts volunteering for ulterior motives, he soon learns that his small effort can make a big difference in some little kids’ lives.
Gabrielle Prendergast has put together a great team of characters for her line-up in Wicket Season. Harry and his friends come from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, and their culture plays an important and natural part of the story. The concepts of community, multiculturalism, immigration, and racism are interwoven into this sports tale. She also introduces the concepts of service versus being self-serving. The originality of cricket as a vehicle for Prendergast’s tale is also a refreshing change.
There are two things hindering this tale from hitting a six. First, the narrative arc is relatively flat. While setting up the move to Toronto, Prendergast has Harry’s father warn him about the neighbourhood where his grandpa lives, cautioning him that the kids in the area may be “rough” and that Harry should consider making friends at school instead of in the neighbourhood. Further, the first time Harry wanders around the community, he meets a couple of boys that steer him away from some boys that are part of a gang. Then Prendergast drops the issue from the story entirely. As a result, there is very little conflict or action in Wicket Season that requires a resolution.
Secondly, although Prendergast’s using cricket as the sport to wrap her story around is a great idea, it is a sport that many people cannot relate to as they are not familiar with it. So, the author either needs to spend less time on the details of the game and focus on the great characters she developed, or, she needs to explain the game more fully for the neophytes in the crowd to understand what she is referring to in her game sequences. So, speaking as the neophyte in the crowd, Wicket Season has too much cricket with too little explanation.
On the whole, Wicket Season will make a good addition to the “Sports Stories” series by Lorimer. Prendergast has developed an ethnically diverse group of characters whose interactions are natural as they play the game they love. Even though her team was bowled, I still enjoyed watching the game.
Jonine Bergen is a 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.