CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 18. . . .January 20, 2017
Hockey Alphabet Book is another title in an alphabet series by Nicky Bird and Peter Duncan. From Aa Arena to Zz Zamboni, Hockey Alphabet Book presents young readers with 26 terms associated with the sport of hockey. As was the case with Canadian Animals Alphabet Book, each term occupies a pair of facing pages. These two-page spreads feature the alphabet in a vertical column on the edge of the left-hand page with the page’s specific letter being highlighted. The two pages feature two full-colour photos of the “object” chosen to represent the letter as well as one to three bits of information about the hockey-related object or term. Sometimes the information portion is presented via speech bubbles, with the speakers being one of four cartoon-like characters: Bucky Beaver, Bertie Bear, Scotty Squirrel or Robbie Rabbit, The authors’ choice of “things” to represent the letters of the alphabet ranges from the likely familiar, such as Hh’s Helmet and Pp’s Puck, to the more unusual, like Kk’s Kicking and Qq’s Quick.
Hockey Alphabet Book works best when the letter/object correspondence involves a concrete object, such as Mm’s Mask or Nn’s Net, as opposed to a concept like Ff’‘s Faceoff or Oo’s Overtime. Bird and Duncan fall flat with Xx’s X-ray vision (something that some goalies seemingly have) and Yy’s Yay, Yippee Yahoo!, (the sounds we apparently make while watching hockey). There are occasions, such as Aa’s Arena or Tt’s Trapper, when the letter’s two pages are so “busy” with text, photos and cartoon characters that the youngster may not know where to focus. Though the text is generally adequate for those unacquainted with hockey, sometimes Bird and Duncan expect the young listeners/readers to bring prior knowledge to the text, with one example being Ee’s Empty Net where the text, in part, reads “Sometimes the net is empty because the coach takes the goalie off the ice.” Nowhere do the authors provide the reason(s) why the coach would decide to take this action.
The closing 10 pages of Hockey Alphabet Book consist of “Games and Puzzles” that include a variety of activities, including a maze, connect-the-dots, spot-the-differences, sequencing, colouring, and connecting the letter with the correct picture. Unfortunately, only the spot-the-differences activity has an answer key.
Because so many children are interested in either playing or watching hockey, Hockey Alphabet Book is a worthwhile addition to home or institutional collections of alphabet books.
Dave Jenkinson, CM’s editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB.
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