CM . . . .
Volume V Number 21 . . . . June 18, 1999
Comparison with Roch Carrier's The Hockey Sweater is unavoidable, but Leonetti's story is more about hero worship than hockey sweaters. Set in 1976, Leonetti's story describes a young boy's adulation of the Maple Leaf's captain, Darryl Sittler. Although Michael is not able to acquire a Maple Leaf sweater for his birthday, his disappointment is offset by his procuring last minute tickets to a Leaf's game. Young Michael excitedly gives readers a play-by-play description of his hero in action - a description of Sittler's actual historic 10-point game against the Boston Bruins. The story ends with Michael's dreaming of one day playing for the Leafs himself.
Leonetti and Thompson have together created an attractive picture book that will undoubtedly be a big hit with young hockey fans. Thompson has used a simple and effective folk art style of illustration incorporating details, such as a table-top hockey game, a Spock lunch-box, a floor model television with legs and other dated household furnishings to set the story firmly in the 70's. The strong blues and whites of the Maple Leaf team colours are repeated in Michael's winter jacket and reinforced in the winter scenes of deep blue sky and white snow. Thompson has extended the maple leaf motif by depicting them frozen in the outdoor rink and flying high in the Canadian flag. The design consists mostly of a page of text opposite a full-page picture, although there are a couple of double-page spreads. The centering of the text lines creates unusual-looking paragraphs, and some words are emphasized in a large coloured font that places capitals in odd places. This approach has the effect of enlivening the otherwise static format of the book.
This book is proudly Canadian, from the subject matter to the visual references to Toronto, Canada's flag, Lawren Harris, William Kurelek and Niagara Falls. Although the story, itself, is slight, Michael's enthusiasm is infectious, and new fans of the sport will share his awe at Sittler's accomplishment in a single game.
Alison Mews is the Coordinator of the Curriculum Materials Centre, Faculty of Education, Memorial University of NF, St. John's, NF.
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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.