________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 1 . . . . September 6, 2002

cover The Greatest Goal.

Mike Leonetti. Illustrated by Sean Thompson.
Vancouver, BC: Raincoast Books, 2001.
32 pp., cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 1-55192-318-1.

Subject Heading:
Canada-U.S.S.R. Hockey Series, 1972-Juvenile literature.

Grades 1-4 / Ages 6-9.

Review by Lorraine Douglas.

*** /4


Today was special for another reason. The biggest hockey series of all time started tonight: Canada versus the Soviet Union. For the first time ever, the best Canadian NHL players would play against the best players from the Soviet Union in an eight-game series.

This appealing book is a companion volume to the collaborator's previous popular title: My Leafs Sweater (Raincoast, 1998). On a warm Saturday in September of 1972, a young boy named Paul and his dad play ball hockey outside their home. The boy imagines he is the great Maple Leafs player Paul Henderson and tonight is the first game in the Summit Series the first time Canadian professional players would play the Russians. The text follows each of the eight exciting games and the parallel story of the young hockey fan Paul and his dad. This is a very good story for young readers as it emphasizes the value of teamwork in the story of young Paul and his dad, and it gives great credit to all of the players in the Summit. The highpoint for Canada was the series-winning goal by Henderson in the final minute of the last game, and the text recreates all the excitement of that moment.

internal art

     The writing and illustration styles are very similar to the earlier book, My Leafs Sweater. All of the drama of the tightly fought series is conveyed as well as the warmth of the relationship between the father and his son, Paul. The illustrations are done in simplified shapes and colours giving the effect of the characters being represented in an animation style. This is a little reminiscent of Chuck Temple's illustrations for the "Brady Brady" hockey stories by Mary Shaw.

      The Greatest Goal (published in the 30th anniversary year of the series) will be welcomed by a new generation of readers who will "replay" the historic series. One small quibble about the book is that sometimes the text is a little difficult to read on the dark map background of Canada, but otherwise readers will learn a lot about the geography of Canada, the recent history of the Soviet Union, the 1972 Canada-Soviet Series and (of course) the great Paul Henderson.


Lorraine Douglas is the Youth Services Coordinator for the Winnipeg Public Library in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364