The Final Game
Review by Dave Jenkinson
In The Moccasin Goalie, readers/listeners first met Danny, Petou, and Anita and learned how Danny, along with his two friends, became members of the Wolves. In The Final Game, Brownridge continues the story of their season. Initially, the trio had been well accepted, but, as the hockey season progressed, whenever the Wolves lost, the team, led by Travis, their best forward, blamed the threesome for the loss. When Coach Matteau chastises Travis, he retaliates by no longer passing the puck either to Anita or Petou. On the day before the championship match against the league’s best team, Danny’s brother Bob, a star left-winger for the Toronto Maple Leafs, returns home to rest an injured shoulder. Coach Matteau invites Bob to the team’s practice where Bob assesses the Wolves. While the team members individually possess the requisite skills, Bob questions whether they can “play as a team.” When the final game goes into sudden-death overtime, Bob provides advice to Travis which leads to the winning goal and team harmony.
Again, Brownridge’s paintings contribute significantly to the story’s overall impact. In particular, his double page spreads of the hockey action capture the drama of the game while his use of colour recreates the eye-dazzling brightness that can be found on clear winter days. Smoke rising vertically from chimneys reminds readers of the coldness of prairie winters. As in Moccasin Goalie, only the presence of horse drawn vehicles and a steam locomotive alerts youngsters to the fact that the setting is not contemporary.
While the story’s outcome is somewhat predictable, young readers/listeners will still respond most positively to Danny’s latest hockey adventure.
Dave Jenkinson teaches children’s and adolescent literature courses at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba.
1997 CCBC Our Choice
1997 Ruth Schwartz Children’s Book Award nominee
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