________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 11 . . . . January 31, 2003


Real Stories from the Rink.

Brian McFarlane. Illustrated by Steve Nease.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2002.
85 pp., pbk., $18.99.
ISBN 0-88776-604-8.

Subject Heading:
Hockey-History-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4 and up / Ages 9 and up.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

**** /4


Jackie Hamilton revealed his best-kept hockey secret. “Sometimes, if there was a key face-off to be won, I'd go to the bench and take a swig of water which I'd hold in my mouth. Just as the puck was dropped, I'd spray the opposing center with the water - right in the face. It always took him by surprise and distracted him. The referee caught me at it one night and gave me a penalty. But he didn't know what to call it. I think he called it two minutes for spraying.

In a dozen chapters, well-known hockey writer and broadcaster McFarlane shares some 100 historical and contemporary stories related to the game of hockey, both in its professional and amateur versions and as played by men and women. Though the title carries the word “stories,” the book's contents might be better described as anecdotes for rarely does an entry exceed a page in length. The anecdotes (or stories) are organized thematically, with the chapters' headings providing very clear indications about what can be expected to be found in each chapter. Consequently, “Behind the Bench” focuses on tales about coaches; “Between the Pipes” is concerned with anecdotes concerning goalies, and “Strange But True” deals with the unusual, such as the incident involving a player who lost the tip of his nose during a game. The final four page chapter, “Fast Final Facts,” contains brief “Did You Know?” information (“The national anthem of the home team has been played prior to NHL games since the 1946-47 season.”) and “Fascinating Records” (“Montreal's Henri Richard holds the record for most Stanley Cup wins, at eleven.”)

     McFarlane's writing style is engaging and breezy. Even when he is retelling a story which is “common knowledge,” McFarlane manages to add new information. For example, most Canadians are likely aware of Henderson's “Goal of the Century,” the one which led to Team Canada's beating the Russian team in the 1972 eight game series. However, how many Canadians are aware that Henderson was advised by the team doctor to sit out that final game because of the head injury Henderson had sustained during the seventh game? More than three dozen black and white cartoon-style drawings by Steve Nease illustrate incidents from the text.

     The organization of Real Stories from the Rink invites a browsing approach rather than sustained reading and, therefore, makes the book a natural recommendation for middle school hockey fans who are reluctant readers. Though a bit pricey, given its relatively short length, Real Stories from the Rink still belongs in school and public libraries.

Highly Recommended.

A hockey fan, Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in young adult literature at the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba .

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

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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