________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 15. . . .December 11, 2015


Hockey Hero.

Zachary Hyman. Illustrated by Zachary Pullen.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2015.
40 pp., hardcover & ebook, $19.99 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-77049-630-9 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-770-49632-3 (ebook).

Grades 1-4 / Ages 6-9.

Review by Meredith Cleversey.

*** /4


There’s something special about a cold winter day, when raindrops turn to snowflakes and rippled water chills to ice.

On that kind of day, there’s no better feeling than strapping on a pair of worn skates and cutting across smooth, clear ice with sharp blades of steel. Add a black rubber puck and a banged-up old stick, and something special turns into something magical...hockey!


Tommy loves watching hockey, but he’s far too shy to play it. So when a championship game depends on him getting out on the ice, Tommy is terrified he’ll let the team down. But Tommy’s grandfather has a trick up his sleeve - a bag of equipment from some hockey greats which may or may not have a spark of magic to help Tommy play his best.

     Hockey Hero came out of a story Zachary Hyman wrote for a school competition in the seventh grade. He continued to tinker with Tommy’s tale for many years, and the result of his continued devotion is a fun story written with a lot of heart. Hyman’s love of hockey is evident in the details of this story, such as when Tommy’s grandfather tells him of great hockey players past, as well as when he participates in hockey traditions, like throwing octopuses onto the ice during the big championship game. For those who know and love the sport, Hockey Hero is bound to read like a classic hockey favourite. The story flows nicely, and Hyman does an excellent job of putting action, suspense, and a touch of magic into a tale many families will cherish.

     Zachary Pullen’s character-focussed illustrations add an interesting flavour to Hockey Hero. The painted pictures have a strong attention to detail, with small features such as Tommy’s freckles or the frosty breath billowing out from characters’ mouths adding a nice layer of depth and complexity to the illustrations. Additionally, certain scenes, like one of Tommy skating alone on a snowy outdoor rink, are quite picturesque, accentuating the comfort and nostalgia of the story’s text. The exaggerated expressions and disproportionate limbs of the characters, on the other hand, give many of the illustrations an almost cartoonish quality. It’s not a style all will enjoy, but the strange mixture of these two techniques successfully highlights both the action and emotion of the story.

     Hockey Hero will find its target audience in sport enthusiasts, particularly those who enjoy hockey and know a fair amount about hockey culture and history. For these readers, this book will be magical and fun, and great for sharing with other hockey fans. For those unfamiliar with–or uninterested in–hockey, however, this book will likely lack appeal. To some, Tommy may seem less like a shy kid secretly longing to play hockey and more like a child being pushed into hockey culture by a fanatical family. Tommy appears perfectly content recording facts and figures and watching hockey instead of playing it. In fact, he isn’t given a choice whether he wants to play in the championship game or not–he’s blatantly told he has to. Tommy ends up having fun on the rink, which shows him he doesn’t need to be shy about his abilities, but some readers may not appreciate that he doesn’t get to make the decision to play on his own.

     Hockey Hero may not appeal to all readers, but for those who enjoy stories of underdogs, family traditions, and sporting events (particularly hockey-related), Hockey Hero will be an entertaining and inspiring read.


Meredith Cleversey is a librarian in Cambridge, ON. She loves to read, write, and live in a world of pure imagination.

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

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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