CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 16. . . .December 19, 2014
The Hockey Sweater. 30th Anniversary Edition.
Roch Carrier. Illustrated by Sheldon Cohen. Translated by Sheila Fischman.
Toronto, ON: Tundra books, 1979/2014.
48 pp. & DVD, hardcover, $21.99.
Grades 2-5 / Ages 7-10.
Review by Ellen Heaney.
A Canadian classic gets a makeover here in celebration of the 30th anniversary of its publication. The first half of the book consists of the text and pictures of the original story, reproduced in a slightly larger format. The second part is made up of extensive information on the inspiration for Carrier’s work, its background and its evolution into the book so many readers have embraced.
To start the back-matter, Carrier is quoted from an interview as having said:
...I started to think about when I felt that I was little me, little Roch, not my mother’s son, not my father’s son, not my brother’s brother, not my big brother’s brother, all that. When was it that I felt I was really myself? And I remember it was when I put on my skates and my Eaton catalogues on my legs, and I stood up, and I was taller than my mom, and I had a stick in my hands...
This was obviously a transformative moment, and it provided the germ of the idea for The Hockey Sweater.
There is also a section about the fruitful collaboration with illustrator Sheldon Cohen. The story was first read on the CBC, after which it saw publication in a House of Anansi short story collection. From there, it was transformed into a National Film Board animated short, and it was during this project that Cohen encountered Carrier. (A DVD of the film is included at the back of this edition of the book.)
Cohen was the one to take the idea of a picture book version to May Cutler at Tundra Books, and thus was born a book which has been treasured by three decades of children and adults. In another quote from Carrier, we hear about an encounter with a father at a library reading, and the father told the author:
You know, men are not like women. The women, they talk. They talk to the children. It’s easy for them… I have a boy, I don’t know what to say to him. So I say to him, ‘Let’s look at the book’…We look at the pictures, we read some lines, and I tell about when I was playing hockey. He tells me about some games he played, sometimes about school. We talk. Sometimes it’s my boy now who asks, “Pops, can we look at the book?”
No author could hope to have his work forge a better connection with a reader than this!
A spread that will be especially helpful for the EBay generation is the one which explains the history and significance of the Eaton catalogue, a central driver to The Hockey Sweater’s plot. In addition, retired NHL goaltender and writer Ken Dryden has provided a summary of the historic Canadiens/Leafs rivalry, and this information also helps to flesh out details for younger readers.
The book is full of photographs, sketches, even part of the storyboard for the film. It finishes with a number of tributes from athletes and writers who have enjoyed this wonderful tale.
At $21.99, the 30th anniversary edition of The Hockey Sweater is an affordable luxury even for schools and libraries already owning the original picture book.
Ellen Heaney is a retired children’s librarian living in Coquitlam, BC.
on this title or this review, send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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