Score a Christmas goal with these hockey books
The tradition continues.
Even with disruptions, Canada Post encouraged kids across the country to sharpen their pencils and scribble their wish list to Santa. They promised that all letters — no stamp required — would be delivered to the North Pole PO providing the postal code — H0H 0H0 — was included.
Kids were reminded to include their return address. Even though Santa knows where every child lives, he wants to be certain that his individualized responses get to the correct home of each little scribbler.
Tech-toys and gadgets are on the lists again this year, but so, too books. Especially hockey books. And Santa and Mrs. Claus are playfully dancing, decking the halls in the workshop.
Prior to the big night, Santa has been known to suit up in his favourite Original Six hockey sweater, lace up his skates and hit the ice in the North Pole Arena for a game of shinny with his industrious elves. He reminds his little helpers that “reading is good for the soul.” And that during the off season, they should indulge in books.
This year, Santa and Mrs. Claus are recommending a number of hockey books that are sure to delight the little people in your life and even the senior side who remember Foster Hewitt and Danny Gallivan.
Pint size hockey heads (ages 3-5) will love Charles M. Schulz’s “It’s Hockey Time, Franklin!” illustrated by Scott Jeralds (Simon and Schuster, $4.99).
Ace shinny player Franklin teams up with Charlie Brown and his Peanut pals, only to learn that the ice is occupied by figure skater Peppermint Patty, who refuses to give up the frozen pond. The Peanut pals face yet another challenge — a rival group of kids want to claim the ice surface, too. “Good grief !” Disappointed, Charlie and Franklin pull up a chair and spectate, while Snoopy and Woodstock stickhandle on Woodstock’s frozen bird bath. Will they resolve the ice issue? Indeed. Franklin comes up with a plan that’s sure to please all the parties. Lorna Schultz Nicholson teamed up with illustrator Kelly Findley and created a series of readers for kids (ages 3-5) featuring Puckster, Hockey Canada’s mascot. “Puckster’s First Hockey Sweater” (Fenn Tundra, $6.99) is a great stocking stuffer. Puckster and his pals: Sarah the fox; Francois the beaver, Manny the moose and Roly the goalie are keen to “lace ’em up” and hit the ice.
One problem. No hockey sweaters. Puckster comes up with a plan. They are perfectionists at shovelling snow off the frozen pond. Why not shovel driveways? And get paid. They scored. Puckster and his pals hit the ice. Decked out in their spanking new first hockey sweaters.
A second in the series is a perfect pick for the little people at this time of year: “Puckster’s Christmas Holiday Tournament.” It’s magical. And a cute, rewarding read for the little rink rats in your life.
“The Magician’s Secret” (Penguin Random House, hardcover $21.99, ages 4-7) penned by the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Zachary Hyman, with illustrations by Joe Bluhm, is simply spectacular. Unlike the former Hamilton Red Wings’ previous two sport books: “Hockey Hero” and “The Bambino and Me,” the Big Ten scoring champion (University of Michigan 201415) and Hobey Baker nominee’s third book celebrates “the power of playing pretend” and “the magic of make believe.”
Charlie’s grandpa unlocks his ‘Magic Story Chest’ and shares spellbinding tales with his wideeyed grandson. Stories that trigger the little lad’s imagination.
Some call them “tall tales” or even “make believe.” But, not Hyman. He believed. And now? He’s living the dream.
And for that special senior puckster in the family, one of the best hockey books out there is “Bower: A Legendary Life,” by Dan Robson (HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., $32.99). The senior writer at Sportsnet researched the life story of Prince Albert-born Johnny Kiszhan. It’s a riveting read about “The China Wall,” Johnny Bower.
A number of books have been chronicled in the past about the legendary Maple Leafs goalie. Some fact. Some fiction. Kudos to Robson who ferreted out the facts — “Just the facts, ma’am” — of a Leaf ’s life well lived. A true Leaf legend.