CM . . .
. Volume XX Number 1. . . .September 6, 2013
Panic in Pittsburgh. (Screech Owls).
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2013.
149 pp., pbk. & EPUB, $9.99 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-77049-419-0 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-77049-424-4 (EPUB).
Grades 5-7 / Ages 10-12.
Review by Elaine Fuhr.
Coach Muck Munro had called on an old friend from junior hockey who was now scouting for the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the friend somehow arranged for the Owls to practice at the CONSOL Energy Center.
The Screech Owls were thrilled. This was “the rink that Sidney Crosby built” – a massive NHL rink high on the hill in the Uptown area of Pittsburgh, above the three rivers that from the air made the city look like a badly sliced pizza. When it opened, it was said to be the best hockey arena in the world. Had Mario Lemieux-number 66, “The Magnificent One”- not taken over ownership of the Penguins, and had the team not lucked into Sidney Crosby in the draft, there would have been no NHL in the city. Now, however, thanks to Mario and Sidney and the star players who came along later, the team was considered a jewel in the NHL crown.
And what a jewel the arena was. Travis knew it was just a practice, but he treated it like Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final. He dressed in silence, putting on his pads in the right order, kissing his practice jersey from the inside as he pulled it over his head, tapping his heart to feel the cloth of the captain’s C that he wore with such pride.
Travis, captain of the Screech Owls, was amazed and excited at the chance they had been given, to play in an open air peewee hockey tournament in Pittsburgh. They were in a great hotel, practicing in a great arena and playing on an outdoor rink built on the football field at Heinz Field where the Pittsburgh Steelers play. What more could he want? Then the team finds out that the Stanley Cup, the real Stanley Cup, is in their hotel and there is a chance they will see it, perhaps even have pictures taken with it if their team wins. But Travis’ excitement is shattered when he takes an accidental but serious hit on the ice in the first game, with a concussion being the result. He spends several days in a dark, very quiet hotel room. From his room, he hears men discussing a plan that has to do with the Stanley Cup – obviously something that is a secret, perhaps its theft, but would anyone believe the rantings of a boy with a head injury. Travis and his friends must develop a plan to stop the men from carrying out their scheme.
Roy MacGregor, author of the very successful “Screech Owl” series, has spent his whole life in hockey and has received several awards for his writing. He shares his love of the game and of children in these exciting and eventful stories. His descriptions of the plays on the ice are so clear and concise that reading is like being there to watch the Screech Owls skim the ice on blades of steel, fire the puck from player to player, then complete the play with a cheer from the players and the crowd. Any young hockey player will read this story with great enthusiasm and perhaps dream of playing in a tournament just like the one in which the Screech Owls played.
Elaine Fuhr is a retired Alberta teacher of elementary and middle school.
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