Monday, 14 December 2009

TBC: Hockey Hero

Teebz's Book Club returns once more before the holiday season ends. I'm sure there are people looking for a last-minute gift idea for their little hockey fan or hockey player, and TBC is proud to give you options that will not only help him or her develop a love for the game, but a high reading skill level as well. Today, TBC is proud to bring to you Hockey Hero, written by Jean Marzollo and Dan Marzollo, illustrated by True Kelley, and published by Scholastic. Hockey Hero is geared towards children who are in Grades One to Three, but the reading skill level needed for this book may be suitable for younger advanced readers as well. The message contained in the story is suitable for children of all ages.

From her website, Jean Marzollo is the award-winning author of I SPY, Soccer Sam, Pretend You're A Cat, and many other children's books and books for parents and teachers. She is the award-winning author/illustrator of Ten Little Christmas Presents, Ten Little Eggs, Bible stories, and Greek myths. Jean Marzollo is also the author/illustrator of online interactive e-books for children, Monsters for Sale and Castle Crash featuring Teddy Bear and Greenie the Troll. She is the producer of an online musical version of Close Your Eyes and online interactive rebus songs and poems. Her online interactive children's books can be played on computers and SMART boards.

From Miss Kelley's website, she was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts to artist parents. Grew up in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire with one brother. Graduated from the University of New Hampshite with an Elementary Education degree. Attended Rhode Island School of Design for two years. Met Steven Lindblom there. We lived in Boston before moving around the state of New Hampshire. Daughter Jada Lindblom born in 1983. Began work in advertising illustration, and then educational publishing. First book written and illustrated by myself and Steve, published in 1980, The Mouse's Terrible Christmas. Published over 100 books since then".

The story sees a young boy by the name of Hal playing for his local team, the Flyers. Hal and his family have just moved into town, and Hal wants to show the players on the Flyers that he's a pretty good player. Hal had played a lot of hockey before he moved, so the players and coach of the Flyers were hoping that Hal would get them a few goals.

In his first game against the Penguins, everything that can go wrong does go wrong for Hal. His dad tries to cheer him up with some ice cream and advice, and Hal decides that the next game against the Flames would be his breakout game, predicting that he'll "get two hat tricks".

However, his snake-bitten ways continue as he can't seem to score a goal. Hal forgets about his teammates, trying to beat the Flames' goaltender all by himself. As much as Coach Connors pleads with him to pass, Hal's focus on scoring the game-winning goal encompasses him.

After the game, Coach Connors decides to make a change to help Hal out. I'm not going to tell you if Hal and the Flyers beat the Flames, but the final game they play is against the best team in the league: the Rangers. Can Hal finally break the scoring drought against the Flames? Can he help his teammates be better? Do the Flyers have what it takes to beat the Rangers?

The Marzollos have put together an excellent story about building confidence, not letting losses get one down, playing as a team, and listening to one's coach. While Hal needs some direction, Coach Connors and his father help to guide Hal on the right path. The illustrations by Miss Kelley add to the story in terms of making it visual, and her images, while elementary, make the story come to life.

Hockey Hero is a great 40-page story that will teach kids some very good lessons. There aren't any ridiculous words that may trip up a developing reader, and the story moves along at a good pace. Miss Kelley's colourful illustrations help to visualize the story. Overall, this is a great book for beginners and developing readers as they move through the start of elementary school. Hockey Hero deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval for being a great hockey story for young readers.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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