Sharpen Your Skates!

Below is a selection of children’s books inspired by Canada’s passion for its national winter pastime, hockey.

Le chandail de hockey, by Roch Carrier, is a Canadian children’s literature classic. Generations of children have read about the misadventures of the young narrator, who is forced to wear a Toronto Maple Leafs sweater instead of the Montreal Canadiens’ number 9 immortalized by Maurice Richard. Written in 1970 for radio, the story was translated by Sheila Fischman (AMICUS 20121258). The original French version, Les enfants du bonhomme dans la lune (AMICUS 877142), and the English translation, The Hockey Sweater and Other Stories (AMICUS 905257), were published in 1979. The story inspired Sheldon Cohen’s animated film, The Sweater / Le chandail, produced by the National Film Board. Sheldon Cohen then illustrated the 1984 storybook, published by Tundra Books (AMICUS 5003239).

Did you know that a copy of The Hockey Sweater travelled to the International Space Station in 2009, and that Abigail Richardson composed a symphony based on the story?

Other hockey-related books include the Hockeyeurs cybernétiques (AMICUS 3970428), which brings together the complete science fiction series by Denis Côté, published in 1983 and again in 1993 under the title, L’arrivée des inactifs (AMICUS 12293147). The new edition uses the original title. The hero of the story, Michel Lenoir, is a beloved hockey star who is used by a dictator to control an exploited population. The sport-recreation aspect of hockey is used as a backdrop to reveal an insensitive and programmed futuristic society.

In the 22 novels of The Screech Owls series (AMICUS 28705721), by sports journalist Roy MacGregor, readers follow a peewee hockey team on their adventures at tournaments. The Screech Owls travel throughout Canada, and even attend the Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan, and in Lake Placid in the United States.

The majority of hockey-themed children’s books have been aimed at boys. However, the international reputation of Canada’s women’s hockey team has also inspired female characters. La fabuleuse saison d’Abby Hoffman, by Alain M. Bergeron (AMICUS 40395119), tells the story of Abigail Hoffman, who as a little girl in Toronto in 1955, pretended to be a boy so she could register for Little League hockey. Later in her athletic career, she competed in the women’s 800 metres at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, the 1968 Mexico City Games, the 1972 Munich Games, and the 1976 Montreal Games, at which she was Canada’s flag bearer.

Here are some other reading suggestions:

  • “Denis Côté : Le bon et le mauvais côté des choses,” appearing in Lurelu in 2013, by Marie Fradette (AMICUS 829835).
  • Mystery at Lake Placid, by Roy MacGregor (AMICUS 16776029).

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