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Scott Young.
Toronto, ON: McClelland and Stewart, 1985.
233pp., paper, $3.95.
ISBN 0-77109088-9. CIP.


Scott Young.
Toronto, ON: McClelland and Stewart, 1985.
246pp., paper, $3.95.
ISBN 0-77109089-7. CIP.


Scott Young.
Toronto, ON: McClelland and Stewart, 1985.
244pp., paper, $3.95.
ISBN 0-7710-9090-0. CIP.

Grades 7-9 / Ages 12-14

Reviewed by Jane Robinson.

Volume 14 Number 2
1986 March

This hockey trilogy, written by award-winning sportswriter and author Scott Young, is for hockey enthusiasts only. Each story is brimming with on-ice action and excitement in play-by-play detail. There is an emphasis on teamwork, which includes the dressing room hijinks and the stresses and strains on the players. The first book, Scrubs On Skates, is the story of the formation of a new high school hockey team in Winnipeg. The central character, Pete Gordon, already an established high school hockey player is forced to leave his former teammates and his dreams of a provincial championship with the opening of a new school in his district. To add to the chip on his shoulder, the rest of the newly formed team are novices. About the only thing going for them is determination and a fierce desire to play hockey. Eventually, but not without incident, Pete wakes up to the fact that determination and desire are what the game is all about. The relationships explored in the book are formed through the boys' on-ice experiences. The depth of these relationships hinges on the fact that the boys are teammates, and the author would have us believe that the resulting unique brand of camaraderie is in fact responsible for the team's success.

In the second book, Boy On Defence, the central character switches to the least experienced player from the original team, a Polish immigrant named Bill Spunska. The story concentrates on his incredible rise from non-skater to draft pick for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Although the primary focus is still on-ice action, this book takes more time out for the off-ice life of the players, particularly Bill Spunska. He divides his time and loyalties between family and hockey and struggles with guilt feelings over being responsible for the downfall of what was to be a winning team. These two books were originally written in the early 1950s, and although they have been updated with a 1985 copyright, their original age shows in subtle ways. The language of conversation, the sex role stereotyping, and some of the situations are no longer applicable and as a result the characters are not believable. The format, however, would appeal to adolescent readers on a number of counts; mass market paperback size, easy-read type, and fairly short chapters.

The final book of the trilogy, A Boy At the Leafs' Camp (originally written in 1963), recounts Bill Spunska's training camp experiences as a draft choice of the Toronto Maple Leafs. This is by far the book with the most substance. Up to now it seems author Scott Young paid little attention to anything else but hockey, and that remains true for his writing style, which is uninspired and sometimes even haphazard. But, A Boy At the Leafs' Camp is less superficial and more interesting than the previous two books because it includes more important issues. As well the reader watches the central character mature, as he copes with some critical situations. Recommended recreational reading for juvenile hockey buffs.

Jane Robinson, Winnipeg, MB.
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