CM . . . . Volume XX Number 18 . . . . January 10, 2014
Lorna Schultz Nicholson and illustrator Kelly Findley have created two more instalments of the "Puckster" series. Puckster, the polar bear, is Team Canada's mascot, and he seems to know all about hockey. This time, he's ready to take it to a new level. In Puckster's First Hockey Tryout, Puckster and his friends try out to play against the Russian Tigers. It's a tough challenge as they are not used to playing on this bigger stage. There are important lessons to learn at these tryouts. For example, Charlie learns that he must pay attention to what is asked of him and come prepared to play hockey. Roly, on the other hand, forgets the importance of warming up before playing a strenuous sport. Puckster is different. He is ready. He listens to what the coach is asking him to do and does it with confidence. Continuing with the values and morals of the other books in the "Puckster" series, readers learn what it means to be well prepared. Even if you think you will not make the team, it is very important to try your best.
Puckster Goes to the Olympics is a very exciting read and brings back many memories of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Puckster has been chosen as the stick boy, and he practices with the team at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Even though the team loses the first game and ties the second, they do not give up. Puckster and the fans continue to cheer them on. Team Canada wins the rest of their games, and Puckster gets a chance to play in the final game because of a teammate's injury. Although worried he was not good enough, Puckster skates hard and tries. Of course, all his practising showed in his minutes on the ice. The results? Sidney Crosby makes the winning shot, and Team Canada wins the game! The young readers of this series may not remember the winning goal in the 2010 Winter Olympics, but I'm sure their parents will. These young readers may even have heard of this historical moment from their parents. This one was definitely one of the more exciting Puckster titles I've read. The author continues with the values in the series, showing that teamwork and trying your best are more important than the results. If the results are good, be happy. But if the results are not as great as you want them to be, keep trying. This story shows that sometimes practice and working hard will pay off, but she clearly tells us that this is not always the case. As Puckster says in the book, "[T]he players had worked hard," even though they had just lost a game.
The "Puckster" series will continue to appeal to young hockey fans. I find the plot for these two stories more appealing than the others in the series, and the didactic moral was woven more seamlessly into the plot. Puckster's First Hockey Tryout and Puckster Goes to the Olympics are also fun reads for reluctant readers, and as always, Puckster has some tips and tricks for readers at the end of each story.
Alicia Cheng is a Children's Librarian at the Vancouver Public Library in Vancouver, BC.
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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.