You play a sport. You have a hero. You want that number on your jersey. Period.
Gabe—short for Gabriella, but don’t even think about it—is a 9-year-old squirt smitten with hockey. When she makes the team for 10-year-olds, she’s justly proud, as proud as if she were Hayley Wickenheiser, her idol and Canadian hockey Olympian. Hayley wore No. 22, and Gabe has always worn No. 22. But when jerseys are handed out, she gets No. 9. “Gabe’s heart felt as if a skate had just run across it.” (MacGregor doesn’t pull his punches in the imagery department, though Després brings as much honey as ice to the proceedings.) She goes home in tears. Forget it; she doesn’t want to play, certainly not as No. 9. Grandma Gabriella visits her later that night, when Gabe is in bed and in misery. She has an old picture album with her from the days when she played hockey (hair tucked under her beanie), until someone ratted on her for being a girl: Girls couldn’t play on the team. Grandma doesn’t belabor the point, but she does offer a short history of No. 9, replete with names like Rocket Richard, Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull, the “Great One”—Wayne Gretzky, No. 99—and Grandma herself. OK, maybe No. 9’s got some mojo after all.
As pleasing as a warm memory. (Picture book. 6-9)