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Saturday, 3 December 2011

TBC: Line Change

With all the movement in the NHL's coaching ranks lately, I thought it would be an appropriate time to look at a book that deals with a coaching change. Back in October 2010, I had the pleasure of reading about Jonathan "Nugget" McDonald in the first book about him and his hockey team in Hat Trick, and Teebz's Book Club was happy to review the sequel to Hat Trick. HBIC and TBC are proud to present Line Change, written by W.C. Mack and published by Scholastic Canada. We pick up the story as the Cutter Bay Cougars are playing good hockey under their head coach, Coach O'Neal, and the two rivals - Nugget and Eddie Bosko - are engaged in a scoring race that would make Gretzky and Lemieux proud. Everything is going well until Coach O'Neal takes a spill on the ice, and is forced to take some time off coaching. Who will step up in his place? Will the Cougars continue to excel with a new bench boss?

According to Miss Mack's biography in the back of her book, "W.C. Mack was born in Vancouver, BC and now lives in Portland, Oregon. Always a Canucks fan, W.C. Mack has also been known to cheer for the Portland Winterhawks". From the site, "W.C. Mack was raised in Vancouver, BC, where she is certain her parents unwittingly cursed her writing career with a happy and stable childhood. Luckily, happiness did not impede her ability to write Hat Trick, nor her first book for middle-grade readers, After All, You're Callie Boone, also published by Scholastic".

With Coach O'Neal on the mend, the players worry about who may step in. Thankfully, they have a former NHL prospect who can put his knowledge of the game to good use: Mr. Gord McDonald, Nugget's dad, volunteers to take over as coach! Of course, the players on the Cougars are excited to have a former Calgary Flames prospect coach them, and they look forward to having Mr. McDonald running the team.

Unfortunately, the team finds out that Mr. McDonald's practices are a lot different than Coach O'Neal's practices. Plyometrics and running begin to replace scrimmages and fun, and the players begin to complain to Nugget about his dad's coaching techniques. Only Eddie Bosko - Nugget's math tutor and on-ice scoring rival - supports Mr. McDonald's practice drills and techniques. Nugget finds himself torn as he loves to scrimmage as much as the next guy, but he can't bear to hurt his dad's feelings.

The game against Nanaimo showed that Mr. McDonald might be onto something as the Cougars blew out the Penguins. While the excitement of blowing out another team is great, the Nanaimo coach accused Mr. McDonald of running up the score. The politics of coaching began to creep into the game for the new coach. But Mr. McDonald also had something else in store for his own team that would cause a major disturbance for a number of players and their parents.

While I won't actually reveal what Mr. McDonald did, it put Nugget in a very awkward spot as he began to defend hi dad less and side with the unhappy players more. There was a lot of self-examination done by both the players on the team and Mr. McDonald, but, in the end, Mr. McDonald wasn't concerned with winning one game. He saw the Cougars as a championship team if they could just overcome a few deficiencies, and his plan was to fix those details sooner rather than later.

Would Mr. McDonald's plan push the Cougars to new heights?
Would his plan divide a dressing room and alienate his own son?
Would Eddie Bosko win the scoring race over Nugget?
Is Nugget still struggling with math?

All of these questions and more are answered in Line Change. Again, Miss Mack has does an outstanding job at showing younger readers some important lessons. From working hard in practice to listening to and respecting your parents and coach, Miss Mack has written another excellent story surrounding Nugget McDonald. Line Change is a fairly good book if you're looking to get your young reader into slightly more difficult stories, and the 172-page story seems to fly by as the chapters are short enough for some good bedtime reading. Because of the strong story and the great lessons taught by Miss Mack, Line Change is certainly deserving of the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval.

If you're looking for a great holiday gift for your young reader and hockey fan, a package deal including Hat Trick and Line Change would be a fabulous present for your hockey star!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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