________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 8. . . .October 26, 2012


The Big Game.

Gilles Tibo. Illustrated by Bruno St-Aubin. Translated by Petra Johannson.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2012.
32 pp., pbk., $7.99.
ISBN 978-1-4431-1943-6.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Carla Epp.

*** /4



Before leaving the house, his mother handed him a water bottle, his lunch box and more advice.

“Nicholas, don’t forget to eat and stay hydrated. Make sure your skates are tight and that your helmet is done up properly. Remember your shoulder and knee pads, too!”

“Yeah, yeah, Mom!” said Nicholas.


Nicholas is fast asleep at the beginning of Gilles Tibo’s The Big Game, but he is rudely awakened by his well-meaning parents and sister. It is the morning of his big hockey game against the best team in the league, and everyone wants to give Nicholas some last minute good advice to help him play better. Things do not get any quieter on the ride to the arena, in the dressing room, or when the team hits the ice. At first, Nicholas is able to take the advice in stride, but, as the story progresses, he and his teammates get more and more nervous and stressed, all of which causes them to play terribly. At the end of the first period, Nicholas’ team is down by five goals. Nicholas, having decided enough is enough, comes up with a plan to tune out all the ‘help’, and he shares it with his teammates to improve their game. Although the team stays quiet about what they’ve done, Nicholas’ plan works to turn their game around in the end!

internal art     The Big Game has a fun and clever twist ending that will make kids smile. The story will also be relatable for most children who often feel like everyone is telling them what to do and warning them about different things. Many children can relate to the feeling of being overwhelmed at a prospect or experience facing them, feelings which can be exacerbated by well-meaning help and advice. The cartoon illustrations are wonderful; they are colorful and detailed. It is fun to watch the variety in facial expressions, and, in the first half of the book, kids can watch for Nicholas’ cat and mouse in the background of each page, reminiscent of Mercer Mayer. A few times the text is a little stilted, likely due to the fact that it is translated, but this does not take away from the book’s readability. The Big Game is a relatable read with illustrations that will keep kids’ attention. Overall, this book is a good addition for libraries.


Carla Epp is a librarian with Winnipeg Public Library.

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

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