Winter Sports Books

Below is a list of Winter Sports books for young readers in honour of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver

Picture Books

A is for Axel: An Ice Skating Alphabet
Written by Kurt Browning
Illustrated by Melanie Rose
Sleeping Bear Press, 2006
Grades 3 – 6 (Ages 8 – 11)
Ice skaters will waltz jump for joy over this book! Kurt Browning dances and glides through the alphabet, explaining ice skating’s history, techniques and memorable moments. He is the right man for the task of writing about the sport for he is a four-time world champion and was the first figure skater to be named as Canada’s outstanding male athlete. Melanie Rose’s vibrant and lively realistic oil paintings round out the text, which consists of sidebars and rhyming verse.
Thematic Links: Ice Skating – Alphabet

The Best Figure Skater in the Whole Wide World
Written by Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Alan and Lea Daniel
Kids Can Press, 2001
Kindergarten – Grade 2 (Ages 5 – 7)
Lizzy loves watching televised figure-skating championships and imitating the moves the skaters perform. As she starts taking lessons, she discovers that skating on ice is harder than it is on the floor. Determined to become a world-champion figure skater, Lizzy arrives earlier to lessons, stays at them later, practises more and tries harder than anyone else. When she learns her class will perform Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, she hopes to land a major part in the production. Lizzy is shattered when she is only cast as a tree. When the performance ends, she leads the other trees off the ice, but not as they rehearsed. Lizzy spruces up their choreography by performing five unscripted moves and the other trees follow suit. This heartwarming tale won the Canadian Toy Testing Council’s 2003 Great Books Award and was shortlisted for the CNIB Print Braille’s 2002 Tiny Torgi Award.
Thematic Links: Figure Skating – Disappointment – Self-Confidence – Ingenuity

The Farm Team
Written by Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Bill Slavin
Kids Can Press, 2006
Grades 1 – 3 (Ages 6 – 9)
The plucky Farm Team is a hockey-playing menagerie that lives on Stolski Farm. Its 50-year wish has been to bring home the Stolski Cup, a teacup trimmed with real gold. The Farm Team, though, loses its annual match against its longtime dirty-playing rivals, the Bush League Bandits. During the latest game, when most of the Farm Team’s players are down, Coach Clyde makes a surprising decision. He orders a chicken and a runt pig, two players considered too small to play on the team, onto the ice to lend the Farm Team a crucial helping hand in its desperate time of need. Does the duo have what it takes to help their team capture the cup? Textured acrylic artwork, teeming with action, accompanies this entertaining tale which shares how little creatures can achieve big things. This book was an OLA Best Bets in 2006, shortlisted for the 2007 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award and named a 2008 Ontario Blue Spruce Award honour book.
Thematic Links: Hockey – Farm Life – Courage

The Hockey Sweater
Written by Roch Carrier
Illustrated by Sheldon Cohen
Tundra Books, 1984
Grades 2 – 6 (Ages 7 – 11)
In a small Quebec town, Roch and his friends wear the sweater of their hero, Montréal Canadiens hockey legend Maurice “Rocket” Richard. When Roch outgrows his beloved sweater, his mother orders a new hockey sweater from Eaton’s mail-order catalogue. Unfortunately, he receives a Toronto Maple Leafs sweater. Despite his protests, Roch’s mother forces him to wear the rival team’s sweater, which does not go over well with his mates. This story was initially written as Le chandail d’hockey and first published as Une abominable feuille d’érable sur la glace. Illustrator Sheldon Cohen adapted the story into a National Film Board of Canada animated short called The Sweater. (The film is also available in French as Le chandail). Roch Carrier’s picture books about sports include The Longest Home Run and The Basketball Player.
Thematic Links: Hockey – Childhood – Quebec – 1940s

Miga, Quatchi and Sumi: The Story of the Vancouver 2010 Mascots
Illustrated and written by Michael Murphy and Vicki Wong
Whitecap Books, 2008
Grades 2 – 4 (Ages 7 – 9)
Meet three creatures inspired in part by stories told by West Coast First Nations people. Miga is a sea bear from Vancouver Island’s waters. Quatchi is a sasquatch who enjoys travelling and exploring. Sumi is an animal guardian spirit who wears the hat of an orca — similar to the beautiful First Nations hats carved by artists across British Columbia. This bilingual (English-French) text tells the story of how they became the mascots for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Appendices consist of profiles of mascots, information about the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games and a list of sports featured in the Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
Thematic Links: 2010 Winter Olympics – 2010 Paralympic Winter Games – Vancouver – Mascots

Junior Fiction/Young Adult Fiction

The Bells on Finland Street
Written by Lyn Cook
Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2002 (c1950)
Grades 3 – 5 (Ages 8 – 10)
Nine-year-old Elin Laukka yearns to take figure-skating classes, but her father can’t stretch his miner’s wages any further to fulfill her wish. She gets a job to raise money for her desired lessons, but then gives the earnings to her family when her father is hurt on the job. Elin’s grandfather, a former figure-skating champ, helps her realize her dream by paying for her skating lessons. Lyn Cook earned the Vicky Metcalf Award in 1978 for her contribution to Canadian children’s literature.
Thematic Links: Finnish-Canadians – Skating – Family – Immigrants

Final Faceoff
(Looney Bay All Stars)
Written by Helaine Becker
Illustrated by Sampar
Scholastic Canada, 2008
Grades 2 – 4 (Ages 7 – 9)
History literally springs to life on a regular basis in Looney Bay, Newfoundland. Prominent historical figures from the past appear in the present whenever Reese rubs the magic gold coin he found. This time around, Queen Elizabeth I comes to town seeking Sir Francis Drake. But then the Spanish Armada suddenly appears off the coast. To avert a naval battle that could blow his town to smithereens, Reese convinces the Queen and the Spanish Admiral to settle their differences with hockey sticks instead of weapons. This is the seventh and final instalment of this fast-paced, action-packed series. The collection is also available in French.
Thematic Links: Swimming – Rivalry – Family – Missing Persons – Friendship

Timberwolf Challenge
(Orca Echoes)
Written by Sigmund Brouwer
Illustrated by Dean Griffiths
Orca Book Publishers, 2008
Grades 2 – 5 (Ages 7 – 10)
Johnny, Stu and Tom are back. The Howling Timberwolves, their hockey team, is hosting a Valentine’s Day dance fundraiser. The trio wants to win the prizes donated for the event. The person who wins the dance contest gets to take home all the prizes, which include a graphite hockey stick. When the guys discover that Connie, the new girl in Howling, is a fantabulous dancer, they each want to have her as their dance partner. But they don’t think about asking her to accompany them until it’s too late. And as usual, things don’t quite turn out as expected for Johnny and his mates. This is the seventh book in the series.
Thematic Links: Hockey – Fundraising – Valentine’s Day – Dancing – Contests

Written by Nicole Luiken
Great Plains Publications, 2007
Grades 10 – 12 (Ages 15 – 17)
This supernatural thriller will chill you to the bone. Johnny Van Der Zee is a gifted hockey player, and everything seems to be going well for him in the town of Iqaluit, Nunavut. But his friend, Kathy, knows something is dreadfully wrong. Why did Johnny intentionally crash his snowmobile? Why do mysterious accidents happen to those he gets close to? And who is the stranger with the silver hair and cold eyes? The one Johnny knows only as Frost. Johnny’s brother and pals must patch together the reason for his strange behaviour to rescue him – and all of mankind – from Frost’s plan for a new ice age. This novel was a 2009 Red Maple Award Honour Book, won the 2008 Golden Eagle Children’s Choice Book Award and was a 2009/2010 BC Teen Readers’ Choice Stellar Award Nominee.
Thematic Links: Hockey – Nunavut – Speculative Fiction – Fantasy – Weather – Winter

Power Plays
Written by Maureen Ulrich
Coteau Books, 2007
Grades 6 – 9 (Ages 11 – 14)
When Jessie leaves Saskatoon, she leaves behind the close pals she’s had since she was a kid. As her family settles in the small town of Estevan, her efforts to assimilate at her new school have most unsettling results. Kim torments Jessie with taunts, name calling and assault, as well as sets her up as a target of another bully. Just when life seems most miserable and unbearable, Jessie gets a surprise: an invitation to try out for the girls’ hockey team. Through playing hockey she makes friends, and her confidence grows as her skills on the ice do. When Kim joins the team, Jessie must now tackle bullying on the ice and in the dressing room. An author’s note, which lists resources to deal with bullying, is included. This book, which is Maureen Ulrich’s first novel, was a finalist in three categories of the 2008 Saskatchewan Book Awards (Reader’s Choice, Young Adult Fiction and First Book Award).
Thematic Links: Hockey – School – Bullying – Saskatchewan


Fighting for Gold: The Story of Canada’s Sledge Hockey Paralympic Gold
Written by Lorna Schultz Nicholson
James Lorimer & Company, 2009
Grades 5 and up (Ages 10 and up)
Canada is an internationally known leader in women’s and men’s hockey. In 2006, though, our nation had yet to conquer the realm of sledge hockey. This sport is the Paralympic version of ice hockey played by athletes with a physical disability in the lower part of the body. In Turin, Italy, the Canadian Men’s Sledge Hockey team arrived at the 2006 Winter Paralympics games as underdogs. Yet, through perseverance, guile and guts, they overcame all obstacles to clinch the gold.
Thematic Links: Paralympics – Hockey

Gold Medal for Weird
Written by Kevin Sylvester
Kids Can Press, 2007
Grades 3 – 6 (Ages 8 – 11)
The gold medals awarded here are for incompetent athletes, bizarre weather, embarrassing scandals, cheaters, chokers and much worse. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Discover athletes who went from chump to champ and warm your heart with stories of high-stakes heroism and fair play. Meet a snowboarder whose hot-dog move cost her a gold medal, a medal-winning gymnast with a wooden leg and a sailor who forfeited a chance at the gold medal to save a drowning competitor. Learn about unbeatable runners who tested positive for caterpillar fungus and turtle’s blood. Find out about live animal hunting, duelling with pistols, other events and more.
Thematic Links: Sport Trivia/Miscellanea

Hockey: How to Play Like the Pros
Foreword by Pat Quinn
Written by Sean Rossiter and Paul Carson
Greystone Books, 2004
Grades 3 and up (Ages 8 and up)
Sean Rossiter and Paul Carson lead readers inside the game of hockey by showing them how to play the world’s fastest sport like National Hockey League (NHL) stars. Discover how to deke, shoot and score. Find out how to skate with power and speed. Learn how to slam the door on your opponents with solid team defense and shutout goaltending. Explore how to be a key player on the power play and penalty-killing units. This book is packed with amazing colour action photographs of hockey stars and chockablock with tips from NHL players. It gives kids and teens the edge they need to play “our game” better.
Thematic Links: Hockey – National Hockey League

How Figure Skating Works
(How Sports Work)
Written by Keltie Thomas
Illustrations by Stephen MacEachern
Grades 3 – 7 (Ages 8 – 12)
Maple Tree Press, 2009
Keltie Thomas offers a sneak peek into one of the most popular Winter Olympic sports in the world. Meet some of the most inspirational skaters in history. Discover how skates are crafted to allow skaters to glide, stop, twist and turn with amazing ease. Delve into the secrets behind the skating world’s rivalries and greatest partnerships. Find out how skaters ward off dizzy spells during their dazzling spins, how to improve your performance as a skater and more! The book includes a “Rules and Regs” section and glossary. Illustrations and photos accompany the fun and fascinating text. This is the fifth instalment in the How Sports Work series.
Thematic Links: Figure Skating – Winter Olympics

Pink Power: The First Women’s World Hockey Champions
Written by Lorna Schultz Nicholson
James Lorimer & Company, 2007
Grades 4 – 9 (Ages 9 – 14)
“Pretty in pink/Isn’t she?” At the first-ever women’s hockey world championships in 1990, Canada dressed its team of tough, talented athletes in pink. The controversial decision offended many individuals but attracted media and public attention and led to a 40 per cent increase in registration for girls’ hockey. Sidebars and black-and-white photos accompany this clearly and concisely written text. The book also contains a detailed glossary and “Where Are They Today,” an epilogue that updates readers on the lives of the team’s members.
Thematic Links: Hockey – Women Athletes