CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 12 . . . . February 17, 2006
In this tenth episode of the hockey-addicted Brady Brady, he is not happy. Up until now, his backyard skating rink, complete with goalie nets, face-off circles and blue and red lines, has been the gathering place for the neighborhood kids to play pickup hockey. However, all that changes when Freddie, an Icehog teammate, shows up one day and announces: “You should see the size of the hockey rink on my grandpa's pond!...It's the biggest and best rink ever! You guys should come over and play!”
When everyone dashes off to try out this new rink, Brady stays behind, and, as shown in the excerpt, he makes up an excuse for not joining his friends. The next day, the group again elects to use Freddie's grandfather's rink, and once more Brady begs off, once more claiming he must help his father. At supper that evening, Brady's mother notices Brady's unhappiness and inquires as to its cause. Brady vents his displeasure about his friends wanting to play with Freddie instead of him, and he says he won't play on Freddie's rink, even if that means he has to stop playing with his friends. “‘There's only room for one rink in this neighborhood!' muttered Brady.”
The following day, when Brady's friends yet again invite him to go with them to Freddie's rink, Brady successfully convinces them to stay at his rink, citing the distance they would need to walk to the pond as well as pointing out, somewhat meanly, that the pond rink lacks real goalie nets, thereby making the playing of real hockey impossible. Freddie, having tired of waiting at the pond rink alone, wanders through the neighborhood until he discovers everyone in Brady's backyard. When Freddie inquires as to why the gang hadn't turned up, he finds himself on the receiving end of a nasty remark by Brady who points out the deficiency of Freddie's rink. After a dejected Freddie leaves, Chester admonishes Brady. “That wasn't a very nice thing to say to Freddie...He's your friend.”
Recognizing the truth in Chester's remarks, Brady comes up with a plan to right his wrong. The next morning, the whole gang is to meet at the pond where they will shovel the snow off the rink. Brady will even donate some old hockey nets that he has. The gang does as planned, thereby making Freddie happy once again, and causing Brady to realize that “it was his friends...not the rink...that made the game fun!”
Once again, Shaw has tapped into the psyche of the young child who experiences emotions but sometimes lacks the necessary words to express what they are. When Brady's friends first abandon his rink for Freddie's, Shaw says that Brady “tried not to show how sad he felt.” Brady's jealousy, the root of his sadness, does not become apparent until Brady's supper conversation with his mother, and then it motivates him to decide to “punish” his friends by not playing with them. Jealousy is also Brady's motivation in reclaiming his hockey buddies by verbally trashing Freddie's rink and then directing the nasty remark at Freddie. Shaw also recognizes the thoughtless fickleness of the young who can be tempted by the new and different and who frequently assert the superlative nature of things associated with them. As well, Shaw clearly shows how some young people operate on the “If you're going to be his/her friend, then you can't be mine” principle.
Temple's cartoon-style illustrations again effectively carry the story's emotions, and young readers can see the sadness in Brady's face as his friends run off to the new rink plus his look of vindictive anger while seated at the supper table. Only Temple's illustrations reveal that Freddie's family are members of a visible minority.
My only minor quibble is with the book's title which is taken from a remark made by Chester as the group first goes to the pond rink: “Let's go put the puck on the pond!” Although the alliteration is fine, in my experience that's simply not a phrase that any hockey playing child/youth would ever utter. Nonetheless, a good library or home collection addition.
Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children's and YA literature at the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.