Review: Great

Glen Gretzky and Lauri Holomis
Illustrated by Kevin Sylvester
Puffin Canada, 2016

Great is a cute book about grit, determination, and staying focussed. When Taylor is recruited to a team by Coach Wally, he is intimidated by a blond-haired star called Wayne. But Coach Wally reminds Taylor that he is the star of his own game, with his own skills and talents that make him great.

Great offers a charming selection for any early reader who loves hockey, loves sports, or needs to remember that we are all great in our own ways. The illustrations are wonderful: comic-style yet thoughtful and rich in detail. And the book’s connection to hockey’s Great One, Wayne Gretzky, by way of the foreword, completes the package. GREAT is a smart seasonal pick.


This review was originally published on LibraryThing on November 19, 2018.


Review: The Highest Number in the World

by Roy MacGregor
Tundra Books, 2014

thehighestnumberIn his latest book, Roy MacGregor, already well known to middle-grade readers for his Screech Owls series, finds a new readership. The Highest Number in the World is a short, sweet story about hockey, dreams, and the people who inspire us.

Gabe’s jersey is number 22, just like her idol Hayley Wickenheiser’s. But her new team’s jerseys number only up to 20, and Gabe gets number 9. How will she ever be able to play again without her lucky number? And what can her grandmother Gabriella possibly do to help?

The Highest Number in the World is a delightful book. Hockey player or not, any reader will identify with Gabe’s struggle with uncertainty in the face of change. The story ends happily, of course, but the telling is balanced and modern. I’m pleased to see MacGregor continuing to represent hockey as a welcoming, inclusive sport for girls — and also glad he doesn’t flinch from acknowledging the male-only history of the game.

Another delight of this book is the illustrations, which make an homage to the traditional NHL and the larger culture of hockey. Look carefully at the colours and the details in the images: they’re very clever!

It’s not quite Roch Carrier’s The Hockey Sweater, but the story of Gabe and Gabriella is highly identifiable and lovable. A great choice for pre-readers, early readers, and anyone who enjoys the game. I give it 4.5/5.


Originally published on LibraryThing on March 16, 2014.