Score a Christ­mas goal with these hockey books

Waterloo Region Record - - Sports - CECELIA CARTER SMITH Cecelia Carter Smith is a for­mer four-time Cana­dian cham­pion and Cana­dian and world in­door record holder in track and a mem­ber of the Hamil­ton Sports Hall of Fame and the Hamil­ton Gallery of Dis­tinc­tion.

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.

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