CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 5. . . .October 7, 2016
Glen Gretzky & Lauri Holomis. Illustrated by Kevin Sylvester.
Toronto, ON: Puffin Books, 2016.
32 pp., hardcover & ebook, $21.99 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-670-06990-3 (hc.), ISBN 978-0-14-319494-1 (ebook).
Gretzky, Wayne, 1961- -Juvenile fiction.
Gretzky, Walter-Juvenile fiction.
Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.
Review by Andrea Boyd.
“Taylor, if you know you’re not the biggest or the fastest player, you work on being the smartest. You don’t have to be great at something to be great. I picked you because you worked hard. You had a great attitude. Get that back.”
Great. He said my attitude was great. He also said was.
I’ll make it great again.
Great is the story of a young boy, Taylor, who is passionate about hockey. Taylor wakes up one morning to find out that his dream has come true…he made the cut to play on his favourite hockey team! What’s even better than that? This means he will get to play on the same team as his favourite player, the “Great One” everyone has been raving about! A confident Taylor is overwhelmed with excitement to join the winning team and strives to become a great one himself.
Taylor receives a warm welcome from Coach Wally and his new teammates, but his nerves quickly take over, and he is speechless—all he can do is wave in response to their friendly greetings in the change room. Nerves continue to get the best of him and impact his performances on the ice. At practice, he can’t seem to do anything right. Frustrated, Taylor relentlessly practices his shots at home in hopes of changing his game.
As Taylor continues to beat himself up over not playing his best, his performance continues to further decline. After selfishly shooting the puck rather than passing to an open player, he costs his team one of their games. Feeling worse than ever, Taylor gives up and informs Coach Wally that he would like to quit for the sake of the team. Coach Wally explains that Taylor’s hard work and great attitude are what scored him the spot on the team. Coach Wally knew that Taylor would not be the biggest or fastest player on the ice, but he still chose him to join the team. After hearing this, Taylor decides to work on regaining the positive attitude that he had prior to joining the team rather than focussing solely on his shots. During the next game, when Taylor is faced with the opportunity to either shoot or pass the puck, he sees Wayne open and passes to him for the game winning goal.
Great is a story that many children involved in sports are able to relate to. The authors send a positive message for children to have fun, work hard, and always do their best. In this inspirational story, Taylor cracks under the pressure that he puts on himself. When working towards achieving dreams, especially in the competitive world of professional sports, it is inevitable that the journey will be a rollercoaster of ups and downs. Even with support, oftentimes players will become frustrated with themselves (or teammates) at which point this negative attitude can lead to a downward spiral in performance. Taylor struggles to deal with his mixed emotions, but with the constant support of his teammates and receiving the advice he needed from his coach, he changes his attitude to achieve the success he so desperately craved on the team. Authors Glen Gretzky and Lauri Holomis are closely affiliated with hockey greats Wayne Gretzky and his father, Walter Gretzky, whom the story is inspired by. Gretzky is the Executive Director of the Wayne Gretzky Foundation, and Holomis has worked with the Gretzky family as well as the Wayne Gretzky Foundation for many years. Proceeds from the book go to The Wayne Gretzky Foundation which helps children and families across North America.
Award-winning writer, illustrator and broadcaster Kevin Sylvester uses wispy lines to create texture in each captivating and exquisitely detailed full-page illustration throughout the story. The talented illustrator perfectly portrays the emotions that characters are feeling through their exaggerated body language and facial expressions. The strategic use of cool colours in close up scenes makes the readers feel a chill as though they are on the ice with Taylor and his team. In an early years classroom, this story would lend itself to an art lesson to teach students the element of line.
Andrea Boyd is an early years educator who recently graduated from the University of Manitoba. She currently teaches Grade 4 in Winnipeg, MB.
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