________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 8 . . . . December 14, 2001

cover The Slapshot Star.

Gloria Miller.
Winnipeg, MB: Pemmican Publications, 2001.
40 pp., pbk, $9.95.
ISBN 1-894717-07-4.

Subject Headings:
Grandparent and child-Juvenile fiction.
Native peoples-Canada-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 1-4 / Ages 6-9.

Review by Valerie Nielsen.

*** /4

imageWhen Derek and his mother are invited to go up north to fish camp with Grandmother and Grandfather, Derek is less than thrilled. After all, not only will he miss the street hockey tournament, but also, as his mother tells him, "There's no electricity where we are going, no T.V." Derek FROZE!! He couldn't believe his ears! Two weeks with no Nintendo? Without T.V.? He sat stunned." Derek has to make do with his Game Boy to keep him from being bored on the long drive north. Arriving at the home of his grandparents in the small town where they live, Derek settles down with his tea and bannock and his Game Boy. Even out in the boat fishing with Grandfather, Derek plays his game in between helping pull in the fish. It's not until the batteries for his game give out that Derek begins to get involved in the activities around him. When he discovers his grandfather is carving a bow for him, excitement drives away lethargy, and he is on his way to becoming the "different Derek" that his uncles remark on when they see him after his time in the bush.

     Gloria Miller is a Metis author who illustrated Pemmican Press' picture book My Kookum Called Today. Derek's story is one that is bound to resonate with modern parents and prove thoroughly understandable to children in the six to nine-year-old age bracket. Although The Slapshot Star is a touching tale with a message, Miller resists moralizing or sentimentalizing. Her descriptions of the lifestyle of her characters, as well as details about the traditional ways followed by Derek's grandparents, are woven naturally into the cloth of the story. Miller's soft pastel drawings often display a nice touch of humour, while her meticulous attention to detail gives the illustrations authenticity. With a simple soft cover and rough-textured pages, The Slapshot Star is quite different from the glossy, expensively bound illustrated volumes that readers are beginning to expect in a picture book; however, Miller's story is a satisfying blend of honesty, humour and relevance. It will be appreciated by elementary librarians who want to add to their collections of realistic picture books featuring Metis culture.


A retired teacher-librarian, Valerie Nielsen lives in Winnipeg, MB.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364