Thursday 9 September 2021

On the Line

Finished September 6
On the Line by Kari-Lynn Winters, illustrated by Scot Ritchie

On the surface this is a tale of a young hockey player finding his place, but it is so much more than that. The central character is Jackson Moore, a boy that lives in a small town where hockey is an important part of the community. Several members of his family have been players that have been great assets to their team, described as hockey heroes. Everyone seems to be looking for Jackson to follow in their footsteps, but he has doubts. Mostly he keeps his doubts to himself while wondering what will happen if he doesn't live up to these expectations. 
As he joins his first hockey team, the coach and the players are excited to have him on the team, but his actual performance as a hockey player underwhelms them. There is an upcoming tournament called Winterfest that they are looking forward to playing in, but one requirement is regulation equipment. Of course, though it isn't stated explicitly here, hockey equipment and its costs are one of the major barriers to children joining the game. 
As Jackson tries to make traditional game plans to stay on his feet and impress his team members, he finds the need to rethink and make a different type of game plan entirely to ensure that his team gets to play at all. This part of the story is told in pictures, not words and isn't clear until the big reveal. 
The book ends with a page on team stewardship and its importance to the overall team spirit and cohesion. 
The illustrations add important elements to the story, showing diversity in the community and on the team, and the level of ingenuity the kids and their parents had used to come up with workarounds on equipment. Without the illustrations, this book wouldn't say as much as it does. 

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