It seems that the Stanley Cup with be awarded to a team south of the border this year. I'm not the biggest hockey fan, but I do feel nostalgic about the game, which I consider to be quintisentially Canadian. Somehow teams with names like the "Mighty Ducks" just doesn't cut it for me. It will always be a game of the Maple Leafs, Canucks, Canadiens, and such pour moi. Given that it's playoff season, here are a couple of great books about our favourite game.
The Hockey Sweater (originally published in French as Le chandail de hockey) by Roch Carrier. This classic begins: "The winters of my childhood were long, long seasons. We lived in three places -- the school, the church and the skating-rink--but our real life was on the skating rink." Young Roch adores Maurice Richard and, when his own hockey sweater is ripped, his mother writes to "Mr. Eaton" and orders a Canadien's sweater. But, horror of horrors, when the sweater arrives it is a Toronto Maple Leafs sweater. A classic for sure.
You can listen to Roch reading the story from this clip from the CBC Archives. You can also watch the animated short The Sweater from the National Film Board here. The Hockey Sweater is illustrated by Sheldon Cohen. Here's his blog.
And then there's The Moccasin Goalie, which is also told in the first person. ("A long time ago when I was a boy, my family lived on the prairies in a small town called Willow. The winters there were very cold, with the wind blowing the deep snow into huge drifts. My friends and I didn't mind. This was our favourite time of year. Cold temperatures meant ice, and ice meant hockey!") In this tale, four friends--Anita, Marcel, Petou and Danny (the narrator) live for hockey. Danny is always the goalie. Since he has a crippled leg and foot he can't wear skates so plays in his moccasins, thus "the moccasin goalie." There's much excitement in town when a "real" hockey team is formed, with uniforms and all. But...Anita, Petou and Danny are not picked for the new team. ("Girls don't play hockey, Petou is too small and Danny can't skate.") I'll leave the rest for you to discover. This classic is written and illustrated by William Roy Brownridge. Here's a review.