While skating at the local pond, young Lucy sees a hockey game and wants to learn to play.
Bowes makes no bones about it: She wants all kids to get involved with sports. And as less and less emphasis is being placed on sports and free recess in schools, the book is timely. Hearne brings a friendly, undemanding cartoon aesthetic to the proceedings as Lucy enrolls with a batch of boys and girls in a clinic to learn the fundamentals of the sport. Boosterism occasionally drifts into preachiness (“Like with so many sports, / you just need practice!”), and once or twice the couplets just fall flat: “Hockey’s a great game, / and you can see why— / a winter team sport / that’s so fun to try.” But the heart and soul of this book is to encourage youngsters to get off their duffs and do something with their bodies and, on a secondary level, to do it with other kids to enhance the joy and gamesmanship: “A great day to skate. / The place is the pond. / Everyone is here! / It’s a fun way to bond.” Lucy is white, and her fellow learners are a multiracial group. Lucy Joue au Hockey, translated into French by Rachel Martinez, publishes simultaneously. A smattering of hockey facts closes each book.
Good intentions and what looks like having a good time outweigh the moments of ham-handedness. (Picture book. 3-5)