The Moccasin Goalie
Review by Dave Jenkinson
The Moccasin Goalie’s adult narrator recalls a period during his childhood when he lived in the small prairie community of Willow. There he spent his winter free time playing hockey with his three best friends on the town’s snow-covered streets and outdoor rink.
Because of a crippled leg and foot, he could not wear skates, but just tended goal in his moccasins, a practice that earned him the nickname “Moccasin Danny.” When the community establishes the Wolves, a “real,” uniformed hockey team, Danny is initially elated at the thought of becoming a Wolf, but his happiness is short lived as he and two of his friends don’t get selected by Coach Matteau. But the situation changes when the Wolves’ regular goalie gets hurt just before an important game and the coach — with the league’s permission — recruits the non-skating Danny. Despite his nervousness, Danny makes enough saves to help the Wolves win. Coach Matteau asks Danny to become a permanent team member, and Danny agrees with the provision that his two previously rejected friends can become Wolves too.
Brownridge’s full-colour paintings – especially his double-page spreads – powerfully capture both the biting cold of prairie winters and the eye-dazzling brightness of the season’s days as rays from the low winter sun reflect off snow-covered land. A series of three consecutive double-page spreads focusing on the critical game dramatically freeze-frames the action. Only the presence of horse-drawn sleighs gently reminds contemporary readers of the book’s period setting.
The combination of a warm, affirming story and fine illustration makes this a book for all collections serving young listeners and readers.
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