A fine look into hockey’s heart.

HOCKEY HERO

In hockey, there is a tradition: win or lose, you rise to the challenge.

Tommy is the youngest in a hockey family, but he is too shy to take to the ice for his development-league team—testified by his nervous stutter, for which he is teased mercilessly by a clutch of bullies. But his grandpa, who played on a Stanley Cup–winning Detroit Red Wings team, nurtures Tommy’s talent with one of the greatest of pleasures: pond hockey. He also regales Tommy with stories of Maurice Richard, Bobby Orr, and Gordie Howe, all of whom elevated the game to a near-sublime level. During the boys’ championship game, the bench is short players, and the coach asks Tommy if he will take to the ice. And Tommy finally does. Though Hyman’s writing can sometimes be as hokily wooden as an old hockey stick—“Tell you what, kid—you score and they’ll never forget you!…You’ll be a real-life legend!” —and Pullen’s faces have a slightly startling, rubbery look, the story has an ingenuous wisdom. And Grandpa is just kooky enough—painting his face red and white for games and throwing octopuses onto the ice, a weird old Red Wings custom that Hyman ought somehow to have explained—to remind readers that sports, first and foremost, should be fun.

A fine look into hockey’s heart. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-77049-630-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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Well-meaning and with a lovely presentation, this sentimental effort may be aimed more at adults than kids.

MY LITTLE BRAVE GIRL

Little girls are given encouragement and assurance so they can meet the challenges of life as they move through the big, wide world.

Delicately soft watercolor-style art depicts naturalistic scenes with a diverse quintet of little girls portraying potential situations they will encounter, as noted by a narrative heavily dependent on a series of clichés. “The stars are high, and you can reach them,” it promises as three of the girls chase fireflies under a star-filled night sky. “Oceans run deep, and you will learn to swim,” it intones as one girl treads water and another leans over the edge of a boat to observe life on the ocean floor. “Your feet will take many steps, my brave little girl. / Let your heart lead the way.” Girls gingerly step across a brook before making their way through a meadow. The point of all these nebulous metaphors seems to be to inculcate in girls the independence, strength, and confidence they’ll need to succeed in their pursuits. Trying new things, such as foods, is a “delicious new adventure.” Though the quiet, gentle text is filled with uplifting words that parents will intuitively relate to or comprehend, the esoteric messages may be a bit sentimental and ambiguous for kids to understand or even connect to. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 50% of actual size.)

Well-meaning and with a lovely presentation, this sentimental effort may be aimed more at adults than kids. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30072-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization.

A PLACE FOR PLUTO

If Pluto can’t be a planet—then what is he?

Having been a regular planet for “the better part of forever,” Pluto is understandably knocked out of orbit by his sudden exclusion. With Charon and his four other moons in tow he sets off in search of a new identity. Unfortunately, that only spins him into further gloom, as he doesn’t have a tail like his friend Halley’s comet, is too big to join Ida and the other asteroids, and feels disinclined to try to crash into Earth like meteoroids Gem and Persi. Then, just as he’s about to plunge into a black hole of despair, an encounter with a whole quartet of kindred spheroids led by Eris rocks his world…and a follow-up surprise party thrown by an apologetic Saturn (“Dwarf planet has a nice RING to it”) and the other seven former colleagues literally puts him “over the moon.” Demmer gives all the heavenly bodies big eyes (some, including the feminine Saturn, with long lashes) and, on occasion, short arms along with distinctive identifying colors or markings. Dressing the troublemaking meteoroids in do-rags and sunglasses sounds an off note. Without mentioning that the reclassification is still controversial, Wade closes with a (somewhat) straighter account of Pluto’s current official status and the reasons for it.

Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-004-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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