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JORDIN TOOTOO by Melanie Florence


by Melanie Florence

Pub Date: March 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-55277-529-5
Publisher: James Lorimer

Hockey was born in Canada, so it comes as a shock to learn that the first Inuit to play in the National Hockey League was Jordin Tootoo, who made it to the Nashville Predators in 2003. This profile comes as a salubrious corrective. Florence tracks Tootoo’s life from its start up near the Arctic Circle—he grew up in a remote community that still lives by hunting and fishing (“For us, fast food is when you shoot an animal and eat it right there”) and where you could skate on the frozen land for half of the year—and then through the years of league play in preparation for a professional career. Readers get a clear idea of how difficult it can be to be groomed for the NHL: Tootoo left home at 14 to pursue his dream—especially difficult on this tight-knit family—and had to contend with racism and the suicide of his much-loved older brother at a brutally young age. His story unfolds in darting, often concussive sentences that mimic the tempo of a hockey game as well as Tootoo’s agitational, bang-’em-up style. Like her subject, the author doesn’t pull many punches in Tootoo’s rousing, rather hard-bitten tale, which, thankfully, has a storybook ending aimed directly at teenage-boy reluctant readers. (Biography. 11-15)