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)