Saturday, 21 October 2017

TBC: When The Moon Comes

If there's one thing I've noticed since I started the Teebz's Book Club, it's that there are exponentially more books for adults than there are for kids when it comes to hockey. Teebz's Book Club is living proof of this fact, so I'm always tickled when a publisher mentions that they have a new book suitable for kids that deals in the topic of hockey. Teebz's Book Club is proud to review When The Moon Comes, written by Paul Harbridge, illustrated by Matt James, and published by Tundra Books. When The Moon Comes has been shortlisted for the 2017 Governor General's Award for Young People's Literature, and that's a huge honour for any book. I was quite excited to have the opportunity to read and review this book for that very reason, so let's find out if it lived up to its hype!

From the press release, "Paul Harbridge is the author of the picture book Helena's Voyage and several published short stories. A graduate of the University of Toronto, he works as a speech-language pathologist with adults with developmental disabilities. He and his wife, Isabel, live in Etobicoke, Ontario, and are the proud parents of Daniel and Helena." Paul won a Judge's Choice award in 1988 in the Toronto Star for his short story entitled "Hunting With His Dad" about growing up in Gravenhurst and going hunting with his father in the woods. He's also a season ticket holder for the CWHL's Toronto Furies! His website can be found here.

From the same press release, "Matt James is a painter, illustrator and musician. His books have won many awards, including the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, the New Mexico Book Award, and the Governor General's Award. Matt lives in Toronto with his family." He was also an artist for the 2013 TD Summer Reading Club, and his works have been featured in the True North Gallery, also known as The Music Gallery of Fine Art, is the world’s first fine art gallery dedicated to visual art by musicians, and artwork connected to the music experience. His website can be found here.

When the opportunity to review When The Moon Comes was presented to me, the book was pitched by the publisher as being of the same nostalgic factors as Roch Carriere's classic tome The Hockey Sweater. This is a very lofty statement to make, so I was instantly curious as to whether When The Moon Comes could carry that weight.

When The Moon Comes follows a group of kids who await the right moment to make the trek through the forest behind Arthur's farm to the pond formed when the beaver dam flooded the gully. The night finally arrives in November when the full moon appears and the ice is strong and fast. In the darkness of night, the full moon acts as a floodlight on the kids who have made the trek to skate on the pristine ice, sit around the fire with Arthur and enjoy warm beverages, and skate until the wee hours of the morning. For many parents, this was their first hockey experiences in small towns across Canada.

Honestly, the imagery within the covers of When The Moon Comes is fantastic, and Matt James' work should be commended. His illustrations fill each page and capture the moments of the story beautifully. I`m not sure if Mr. James will ever be reproducing these illustrations, but I`m quite certain he could fetch a few dollars if he ever decided to make them available.
On the beaver flood, I feel through the snow with my stick, and Arthur is right. The ice is waiting, perfect.

"Wonderful ice," says Arthur. "Magic ice."
As I stated above, the comparison to Monsieur Carrier's story of The Hockey Sweater may have been a little presumptuous simply for how timeless the latter story is. That being said, When The Moon Comes offers the same nostalgic feeling in its story, and I can honestly say that I have trekked to a few outdoors rinks across school fields in a foot of snow just for a skate in my time. When The Moon Comes has the potential to be a story similar to The Hockey Sweater, but it needs a few more years of telling and retelling the story under its belt to reach the status and revere that Monsieur Carrier's story holds.

All that being said, though, I really enjoyed the whimsical story and excellent illustrations in When The Moon Comes. According to his website, Mr. Harbridge had been sitting on this story for twenty-five years before finally publishing it! In refining the story over the years, Mr. Harbridge has crafted the story to pull on the heartstrings and have us dip back into simpler times where a frozen pond and a few frigid nights turned winter into a playground for kids. It's in those memories that parents will reminisce as they read this story to their children, and those children will see the memories come flooding back in their parents' eyes. Because of this, When The Moon Comes is absolutely deserving of the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

When The Moon Comes has been out for a month in local bookstores and libraries, and I highly recommend you find a copy for your young reader. This book is suitable for all readers, including the youngest and developing readers, and, with any hope, it should start finding a place on night tables and bookshelves for all children across this great land!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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