A clever introduction to the game-changing career of profession hockey goalie Jacques Plante.
Little Jacques hasn’t got a puck, so he plays summer hockey with a ball. “Hey, that’s not hockey!” He plays goal with a stump of a tree, his pads are potato sacks and wooden pads. “Hey, that’s not hockey!” Jacques doesn’t care, he just wants to play. But when readers see him don the shirt of the Montreal Canadiens, they (or at least their adult caregivers) realize this is not just any feel-good tale, but the story of Jacques Plante, such a force in the net that he won best goalie honors time and again. Jacques was ever the rebel, going his own way. Hockey players are notorious for staying on the ice through injuries, and before Plante, goalies got the worst of it. Plante fashioned a mask out of fiberglass to prevent facial injuries. At first he is booed for being a weenie—“Hey, that’s not hockey!”—but Poulin presents him as a man with a common-sensical survival instinct who could still beat just about any team even with a mask on. Girard’s illustrations are packed with action and give a sense of the mayhem on ice. His cast of players and coaches is an all-white one.
The best athletes play with their smarts as well as their talent, and that point shines in this testament to one of hockey’s greatest, and brainiest, players. (Picture book. 6-10)