________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 3 . . . . September 30, 2005


Skate, Robyn, Skate. (First Novels, 30).

Hazel Hutchins. Illustrated by Yvonne Cathcart.
Halifax, NS: Formac, 2004.
56 pp., pbk. & cl., $5.95 (pbk.) $14.95 (cl.).
ISBN 0-88780-626-0 (pbk.), ISBN 0-88780-627-9 (cl.).

Subject Heading:
Skating-Juvenile Patron.
Determination (Personality Trait) - Juvenile ficton.

Grade 1-3 / Ages 6-8.Review by Dave Jenkinson.

*** /4


Private lessons are for kids who want to be in competitions. They cost a lot of money. We don’t have a lot of money. Luckily, I saw an ad for group lessons at the indoor rink. Mom said we could afford them if I could live without renting videos for a while.

Going to my first anything makes me nervous. When I got to the rink there were about a zillion kids of different ages. A lady came out and began to organize things.“Gliders down at the far end,” she said and pointed.“Sliders between the blue lines,” she said and pointed to the hockey stripes on the ice.

I was still waiting with two girls a grade younger than I am and a bunch of really little kids. That was okay. I could learn to skate with two girls a grade younger.


 Robyn wants to skate fluidly like her best friend Marie who plays hockey with her older brothers. And, while Robyn can skate, she does not skate well, nor does she know how to stop other than to skate into a ridge of packed snow at the edge of the pond. The only child in a single parent home, Robyn recognizes that her mother cannot afford to pay for private lessons, and so she enrols in group lessons where, much to her embarrassment, she finds herself in the beginners class with the little kids. Her situation appears to worsen when she learns that the skating lessons are to culminate in an ice “Carnival” where she will have to skate with these very young children and where her height will make her stand out. Prior to the public event, Robyn is asked by Mrs. Kelly, her non-skating neighbor in the next apartment and the source of Robyn’s secondhand skates, to teach her what she has learned in her lessons. Another pre-Carnival happening occurs at the pond where Robyn hurriedly skates to get adults to rescue two teens who have fallen through some thin ice, and where she, without thinking, uses a hockey stop rather than the “baby” pie stop they’ve been taught during skating lessons. Armed with renewed self-confidence, Robyn actively participates in the Carnival, and the book concludes with her again skating with Marie where “I followed... a little bit – but only a little bit – behind.

     The strength of Skate, Robyn, Skate is in its character development, but the plot is a bit choppy, and some of the events, such as Robyn’s teaching Mrs. Kelly how to skate, do not clearly advance the story. Each of the book’s 10 chapters is accompanied by one of Cathcart’s full-page, cartoon-like illustrations.


Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children’s and YA literature at the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.

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

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