More than just a number

11 Dec

I get weepy around Christmas time. My twin sister likes to send me Hallmark ads to see if I’ll cry. t’s always the good kind of cry, and I try to get her back. So imagine how surprised I was to find myself more than a little teary-eyed at the end of a picture book about hockey!  The Highest Number in the World is written by Roy MacGregor and beautifully illustrated by Geneviève Després.

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From the publisher: 9-year-old Gabe (Gabriella) Murray lives and breathes hockey. She’s the youngest player on her new team, she has a nifty move that her teammates call “the Gabe,” and she shares a lucky number with her hero, Hayley Wickenheiser: number 22. But when her coach hands out the team jerseys, Gabe is stuck with number 9. Crushed, Gabe wants to give up hockey altogether. How can she play without her lucky number? Gabe’s grandmother soon sets her straight, though–from her own connection to the number 9 in her hockey-playing days to all the greats she cheered for who wore it, she soon convinces Gabe that this new number might not be so bad after all.

 What starts off as a simple story about a disappointed little girl becomes a much more complex and meaningful tale once Grandma starts sharing her story. Talk about girl power and historical context.

As a kid hockey wasn’t even an option for me. Where I grew up, girls didn’t play, we watched.  Hockey heroes were big for us. I loved watching Guy Lafleur skate down the ice hair flying (these were the days before mandatory helmets). In 1979, Roch Carrier, published The Hockey Sweater, which you can watch as an excellent National Film Board of Canada short here. The Highest Number in the World, feels like an homage to  The Hockey Sweater and girls in sports all at once. I’m going to be sure my twin sister reads this one. I bet she cries, too.

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One Response to “More than just a number”

  1. Kylie Betzner December 11, 2014 at 12:28 pm #

    You have a twin sister too! That’s awesome!

Comments are closed.

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