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Puckster’s First Hockey Sweater and Puckster’s First Hockey Game by L. Schulz Nicholson

Schultz Nicholson, Lorna.  Puckster’s First Hockey Sweater and Puckster’s First Hockey Game. Toronto:  Fenn/Tundra, 2011.  Print.

These two volumes are the first in the new Puckster series, a collaboration between Fenn/Tundra of Tundra Books and Hockey Canada.  The stories are about an after-school team of hockey-playing animals.  The team is inclusive in terms of gender, ability, colour and species, being comprised of  a raccoon, a squirrel, a brown bear, a moose who plays on a sledge, a pink fox who is female, and of course, Puckster, who is a polar bear.  The dressing room also appears to be unisex.

Each book tells a story that also teaches values.  In Puckster’s First Hockey Sweater, the animals want team sweaters, so they work as a team to make enough money by shoveling snow.  In Puckster’s First Hockey Game, they play a see-saw game which ends in a tie.  Throughout they console and encourage each other as they score and are scored upon.  Each player is shown making an important contribution to the team. On the last page of each book is a definition or a hockey tip.

Lorna Schultz Nicholson includes lots of hockey detail and authentic “hockey talk”.  For example, Francois “blasted a shot right into the five-hole, between the goalie’s pads”. Puckster wonders “…what should he do.  Deke or shoot?” Parents who are fans will find the text comfortable and familiar.

Kelly Findley’s cartoon illustrations are bright and her characters are expressive.  She has worked as a graphic designer with Hockey Canada, which probably accounts for the fact that the team wears current Team Canada sweaters.

Both the use of the current Team Canada images and references to players such as Hayley Wickenheiser and Roberto Luongo will date these books in time.  However, they are fun books for today’s young hockey fans and players and the values they teach are laudable.  Highly recommended for elementary school and public libraries.

Highly recommended:  4 stars out of 4
Reviewer:  Sandy Campbell

Sandy is a Health Sciences Librarian at the University of Alberta, who has written hundreds of book reviews across many disciplines.  Sandy thinks that sharing books with children is one of the greatest gifts anyone can give.