CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 3 . . . . September 30, 2005
Brady Brady and the Super Skater.
Mary Shaw. Illustrated by Chuck Temple.
Waterloo, ON: Brady Brady Inc., 2005.
32 pp., pbk., $6.99.
Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 4-8.
Review by Dave Jenkinson.
Suddenly the car door swung open. “Hurry up Caroline, you’ll be late for your hockey practice,” said the woman as she accidentally dropped a ballet slipper in the slush.
“I know, I know - and my hair is such a mess!” replied a voice from the back seat.
Brady watched as a girl with a head full of curls jumped out of the car, hockey stick in hand.
Brady has a new teammate on the Icehogs, a curly-haired girl whose name is Caroline. When Caroline attends her first scrimmage, she skates so incredibly fast that Brady labels her “a super skater.” However, when Caroline shoots at the net, Chester never has to make a save as she repeatedly misses the net. One of Caroline’s dressing room behaviors is to add the hockey tape from her socks to a tape ball, and, in a welcoming gesture, her fellow Icehogs contribute theirs. The day of her first game, Caroline appears to be nervous, and Brady suggests that they toss her tape ball around. As she pulls the ball out of her equipment bag, she exposes a pair of glasses. Initially, Caroline pretends that they are for “dressing up my tape ball,” but she finally admits that “I don’t like to wear my glasses. The kids on my other hockey team used to tease me a lot.” Now understanding why Caroline’s shots have been missing the net, Brady reassures her, “We’re the Icehogs, and friends don’t tease friends,” and he points to Chester as an example of a glasses-wearing Icehog. Wearing her glasses and now able to see clearly, Caroline hopes to impress her new teammates by scoring a goal, but she contributes in a surprisingly different way. Late in the game, the Icehogs are leading by a goal when an opposing Hound, having broken in unopposed on Chester, shoots, and the puck slowly trickles between Chester’s legs. Putting on a burst of speed, super skater Caroline manages to deflect the puck just before it crosses the goal line and thereby preserves the Icehogs’ win.
Like the other books in the “Brady Brady” series, Brady Brady and the Super Skater reinforces the values of friendship, fair play and team play. The story’s conclusion subtly reinforces the idea that there are other ways to contribute to a team other than by being a scorer.
The book may leave young readers/listeners with some unanswered questions. How did Caroline become such a super fast skater? Is Caroline a ballet dancer? As noted in the excerpt, Brady had observed Caroline’s mother retrieving a ballet slipper when Caroline emerged from her car. Is there a connection between taking ballet and being a speedy skater?
Temple’s cartoon style illustrations again bring a typical community hockey rink to life. His sequence of illustrations which follow Caroline’s initial inability to hit the net are particularly delightful, especially the final illustration which shows Chester leaning against the outside of the net and Caroline’s shot still missing the fully exposed goal mouth.
Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children’s and adolescent literature in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.
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