CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 20. . . .February 3, 2017
MVP Superstars 2017.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2017.
56 pp., pbk., $8.99.
Grades 3 and up / Ages 8 and up.
Review by Dave Jenkinson.
Marie-Philip Poulin was still a teenager when people began referring to her as the Sidney Crosby of women’s hockey. It was partly because she was so good so young, and partly because she had a similar style of play. “Dangerous, evasive, intelligent, passionate, difficult to knock off the puck, confident... and a scorer of devastating goals,” said a Canadian Press story about her during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Poulin has very fast hands which she credits to batting pucks out of the air with her brother, Pier-Alexander, a college hockey player. “He helped me since I was young,” said Poulin. “I owe him a lot.”
Eric Zweig has written numerous hockey-related books for juveniles, including The Ultimate Book of Hockey Trivia for Kids, Star Power: The Legend and Love of Cyclone Taylor, and the “Hockey Hall of Fame Kids Series”. As the cover of MVP Superstars 2017 indicates, the book’s contents include more than the MVPs of hockey, but also those of professional baseball, basketball, football and soccer.
The design of MVP Superstars 2017 closely resembles that used in Paul Romanuk’s “Hockey Superstars” annuals in that each player is treated in a pair of facing pages with one page being a full-page action photo of the focal player while the facing page carries a three-part text. Readers will likely first notice the yellow banner “hanging” from the top of the text page. It contains the name of the player’s current team, the player’s position, height and weight (both Metric and Imperial units), and date and place of birth. For example, the banner for basketball’s Lebron James reads:
Height: 2.03 m (6'8")
Weight: 113.5 kg (250 lbs.)
Born: December 30, 1984,
in Akron, Ohio
A brief “Fast Fact” about each player can be found at the bottom of the text page. That for the New England Patriots’ quarterback, Tom Brady, says: “In 2007, Tom Brady became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw 50 touchdown passes in one season.”
The remaining and largest text portion is presented in two-column format, and it provides the “evidence” for why this person merits being called an MVP.
Each of the five sports is represented by five players. Canadian content (about 40%) is delivered in two ways - the player was either born in Canada or plays for a Canadian team. For instance, in the football category, none of the MVPs are Canadian born, but two do play for CFL teams whereas in the hockey portion of the book, two players are Canadians while a third plays for the Ottawa Senators. Of the book’s 25 MVPs, just two are female (and both Canadian): the excerpt’s hockey-playing Marie-Philip Poulin and soccer’s Christine Sinclair who plays the forward position for the Portland Thorns FC. The book closes with five pages of “Rising Stars” with each of the five sports being represented by two players (all of them male). Six of these 10 rising stars are Canadian while another two play for a Canadian team. Each player has a small action photo, “tombstone: information (minus the banner), and a brief paragraph “justifying” his inclusion.
Whereas Paul Romanuk’s “Hockey Superstars” annuals could be recommended for individual and institutional purchase, MVP Superstars 2017 will likely be more successful in an institutional setting where its broad scope will attract fans of one or more of the five sports who will devour those portions of the book while possibly skimming the rest. On a more positive note, the exposure to new sports might kindle new interests.
Dave Jenkinson, CM’s editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB, where he’s a hockey, football and baseball fan in that order (basketball and soccer not so much).
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