________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 21 . . . . June 23, 2006


Rink of Dreams.

Nancy L.M. Russell.
Toronto, ON: Key Porter Books, 2005.
252 pp., pbk., $15.95.
ISBN 1-55263-727-1.

Grade 3-7 / Ages 8-12.

Review by Elaine Fuhr.

***½ /4


"MacDonald, keep your head up when you take a check!"

"MacDonald, you're ducking away! Take the check!"

"MacDonald, get back up and skate. We don't have all day!"

Gary was starting to doubt whether he really wanted to make the AAA team after all.

Out on the rink during an icy Canadian winter, many young boys dream of the swish of blades on ice and the thwack of a stick when it connects with the puck. The puck whizzes across an NHL arena, and the crowd cheers for them. For many, the dream of playing on an NHL team is just that, but for Gary MacDonald, the dream could actually come true. He's good, very good, but he is small in stature and this one fact nearly defeats him. He must work harder than any other player, to prove himself, facing injuries and bullying on and off the ice. His home life isn't so great either after his mom leaves to "find herself" and his dad is miserable. His sister, Maggie, long-time friend, Todd, and a new Russian player for the farm team, Dmitri, seem to be the only ones who understand what he is going through. Dmitri is small, too, but fast like Gary, and he helps Gary realize what a benefit his size and speed can be to his team. Then Dmitri's problems pull Gary's family together in a way that he finds hard to accept, at first. Though Gary tries to focus on the game, he is pulled into the intrigue and pain facing the two families and finds more support and love than he thought possible.

     Nancy Russell gives the reader a peek into the hearts of young boys who live for hockey and into the lives of their families. Anyone who has ever lived the life of a hockey family will smile each time a familiar event is portrayed in this story and perhaps shed a few tears at the pain Gary must suffer to achieve his dream.

Highly Recommended.

Elaine Fuhr is an elementary/middle school teacher in Alberta.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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