Finalist: Finalist – 2017 Governor General’s Literary Awards – Young People’s Literature – Illustration
An exquisite book for young and old who have treasured the magic of a night hockey game on the local lake, creek or pond.
The magic of the language as well as the beauty of the illustrations capture the players and personify nature on this moon-lit night in December as the children anticipate their first skate on the recently frozen beaver pond. The children have been waiting for the rink to freeze, and it seems to be a tradition to wait for the first full moon to give them light to see their way and play. The moon is at the centre of the story and the artwork.
When all the conditions align the children trudge through Arthur’s farm to the beaver flood, to the magic of the night, the game and the cold. Harbridge’s descriptive and figurative language captures the biting cold, and the beauty of the night –e.g. “the leaves shatter under your feet like glass”; “the cold air burns our lungs”, “wet pants freeze solid…and we walk clanking like knights in armor”, “the face of the sky is freckled with stars”, Smoke rises from chimneys, moonlit white against the dark sky”.
James’ acrylic paint and India ink paintings capture the mood – bundled children, hats and scarves streaming, reflected in the mirror of ice; and, especially the night scenes with the full moon, open fire, dark shadows in the woods, and tiny players on the small rink in the vastness of the forest . (“the slash of silver lying silent now in the expanse of white bordered all around by the black forest. Wonderful ice. Magic ice”.”)
This lovely book could be an introduction to a writing assignment or art project, an excellent model for word choice, a read aloud for winter themes or cold temperatures; but, most of all, it is a book for hockey fans, young and old, who go to great lengths to play the game.