Saturday, 30 October 2010

TBC: Hat Trick

Teebz's Book Club has been tearing through books lately in an effort to give children everywhere an opportunity to find hockey stories to read during National Young Readers Week. There are some excellent stories that have been produced by very good authors, and these men and women deserve a little attention from your little hockey player or fan. Today, TBC is featuring another excellent story and author as I'm proud to bring to you Hat Trick, written by W.C. Mack and published by Scholastic Canada. Hat Trick is a very good story that has some excellent life lessons that children can learn from and apply to their lives as they read about Jonathan McDonald's struggles in this book.

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".

Jonathan "Nugget" McDonald is a hockey player for the Cutter Bay Cougars in British Columbia, Canada. Jonathan, like most eleven year-olds, loves to play hockey and hates doing homework. It is here where Jonathan finds out how important school is in the grand scheme of his hockey life. And it only gets worse when a rival player named Eddie Bosko moves to town.

Jonathan hates math and conveniently forgets to do his assignments because he is more concerned with hockey. Mr. Holloway, his math teacher, doesn't let Jonathan off the hook, however, and informs Jonathan's parents at a parent-teacher interview that Joanthan's math marks aren't even close to where they should be. Jonathan's mother and father know the importance of school considering that Jonathan's dad was a Calgary Flames draft pick whose career was cut short after getting hit in the face with a puck. Because of this set of developments, the McDonald parents hire Eddie Bosko as Jonathan's tutor!

To make matters worse, Eddie Bosko isn't just a hockey player, but a right winger like Jonathan! Not only is a former rival now playing on his team, but Bosko is also trying to steal his position! And now the hulking winger was going to be his math tutor?!? What else could go wrong for Jonathan?

The one thing that Jonathan could rely on is his hockey skill. Jonathan had trained hard in the off-season, and the results were showing on the ice. Jonathan also was interested in a radio contest held on PUCK radio where the grand prize was tickets to a Vancouver Canucks game and the chance to shoot from center ice for prizes! Of course, Jonathan's favorite team is the Vancouver Canucks, and Jean Ducette of the Canucks is his favorite player.

Could he solve the trivia question for the prize?
Can he figure out math to pass Mr. Holloway's class?
Can he outperform Eddie Bosko to keep his position on the ice?

I really like the messages contained within Miss Mack's book. Hat Trick provides an excellent moral story without being too preachy, and Jonathan's story is one that kids should relate to in terms of school being more important than sports. The conflicts, both internally and externally, that Jonathan faces present very good lessons that all children should know.

Hat Trick is 163 pages long, but it shouldn't be too difficult for younger readers to get through, and the chapters are broken up quite nicely into small sections. Miss Mack has done an excellent job in making this book easy to read as well as providing some excellent lessons that all kids should know. Because of these reasons, Hat Trick certainly deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval. Add it to your hockey player's or hockey fan's collection so they can enjoy it over National Young Readers Week!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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