CM . . . .
Volume VII Number 17 . . . . April 27, 2001
"What happened next made Leigh's heart leap and her stomach tighten. Jada, Becky and Amanda surprised Leigh with their great stickhandling skills. They even had some pepper behind their slapshots. Their skating was okay; just not as strong as the boys Leigh was used to playing with. They seemed to move so slowly.Leigh Aberdeen is a 13-year-old girl with initiative! Furious at being shut out of moving up the ranks and designated to play hockey on a rookie boys team, she decides to form her own all girls team instead. Drafting her best friend, Tina, as manager and goalie of the team, Leigh assumes the role of coach and scouts out enough girls to fill the roster. Complications arise when the pair find out that the team needs an adult authority figure in order to be accepted into the league.
Leigh's father agrees to coach but only in exchange for Leigh's allowing the son of a co-worker to join her otherwise all girl team. Alec has missed the deadline to register to play on any of the boys teams in the area. Although arrogant, he turns out to be a good player and not especially happy to be playing as the only boy on a team named the Chinooks whose uniform is a glistening baby blue fabric with pink lettering!
The story follows the progress of the Chinooks through their first season. Their games are action-packed and suspenseful. The play-by-play accounts and game strategies are easy to follow even for the non-hockey enthusiasts. Some girls on the team are stronger figure skaters than they are hockey players. The scenes describing the unusual aspect their skills bring to the game are very amusing! Although the primary action of the book depends on the hockey, the plot also turns on the friction between Leigh and Alec and between Leigh and her father.
Characterizations of the main characters are strong and real. Leigh moves easily between her life with her father in town and her weekends with her mother who lives and teaches on a nearby First Nations reserve. Readers watch Leigh's understanding and acceptance grow of her divorced parents' right to live new lives. Alec and Tina also resolve issues and come to terms with what is important to them.
Rookie Season will appeal to readers interested in the action of a hockey story or in the depth of a story about the search for identity.
Helen Arkos is teacher-librarian at John Pritchard, a K-S1 school in Winnipeg, MB.
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