________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 5 . . . .October 27, 2006


Brady Brady and the Cranky Kicker.

Mary Shaw. Illustrated by Chuck Temple.
Waterloo, ON: Brady Brady Inc., 2006.
32 pp., pbk., $6.99.
ISBN 1-897169-08-6.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

***½ 4



It was spring. Time to put away the hockey skates and get out the football. Brady was looking forward to a game with his friends - until he found his ball, flattened, the way he had left it at the end of last season.

Old Mr. Luddy had let the air out of it before giving it back, just because it had gone into his garden...again.


After 10 books which saw Brady Brady and his fellow Icehogs playing hockey, the season is finally over, and the athletically inclined Brady now turns to another sport - football. However, as the excerpt reveals, Brady’s resumption of this sport reminds him of a problem still unresolved from the end of last year’s football season - his curmudgeonly neighbour, Mr. Luddy, whose yard and garden are immediately adjacent to the empty lot in which Brady and his buddies play pickup football. While Brady completely misses the ball on his attempt to kick off to begin the game, Kev is more successful, but the football lands in the middle of Mr. Luddy’s vegetable patch. After losing a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who will retrieve the ball, Brady does get the ball, but he is intercepted by Mr. Luddy who takes the ball away from him and kicks it “waaay to the far end of the empty lot” saying, “Next time, you won’t get your football back!”

     Despite the group’s best efforts, the ball once more sails into Mr. Luddy’s yard when Tes’s kick goes off course because of the wind. Though the offending ball is adjacent to Mr. Luddy’s basement window and not in his garden, it still has to be retrieved, and this time all six children, plus Brady’s dog, Hatrick, head into the yard. As Brady reaches down to get the ball, he glances through the basement window of Mr. Luddy’s house and sees a whole bunch of football memorabilia, including “the biggest trophy he had ever seen.” Mr. Luddy catches the whole group in his yard and yells, “HEY! What are you kids doing over there.” As Brady explains the wind’s taking the ball off course, Mr. Luddy’s angry face softens, but when Brady questions him concerning the big trophy, Mr. Luddy wordlessly walks away.

      Shortly thereafter, Mr Luddy appears carrying the trophy and a photo album. He explains that his football nickname had been Bull’s Eye and that “this trophy is The Bronze Boot...I won it for being the best place kicker in my league.” However, in the championship game, he was called upon to kick what would have been the winning field goal, but “...a big gust of wind blew it off course. It went to the right of the goalpost. I had lost the game....After that, I never played football again.” Recognizing that Mr. Luddy is knowledgeable about football, Brady invites him to “teach us how to play football for real!” and the book closes warmly with Mr. Luddy’s agreeing, but only on the condition that “we spend some time on kicking first. That needs a lot of work, especially if my garden is going to survive!”

internal art     Once again, Chuck Temple’s cartoon-like illustrations are a delight. Freed from the limited palate of winter colours and indoor ice rinks, Temple appears to have produced brighter art. Like all good illustrators, Temple uses his illustrations to extend, and not just replicate, the author’s text. For example, an overhead view of the block on which Brady lives reveals Brady’s back yard where the discoloration of the grass indicates the outline of the ice rink which appeared so prominently in a number of the previous ten hockey focused books. Similarly, though never named in the text, Brady’s loyal canine, Hatrick, appears in most illustrations. The detail in the opening double page spread of Brady’s cluttered bedroom, with its sports pattern wallpaper, suggests that Brady may also play golf and baseball. Possibly, future books will find Brady on the links or the diamond.

Highly Recommended.

Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children’s and adolescent literature in 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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