Over the last few weeks as I’ve been loading Inly’s Summer Reading list onto my blog, I’ve also been watching Bruins games (only the third periods) and buying Father’s Day gifts for my husband and my dad. I’m always with my dad on Father’s Day since he makes his annual two-week visit in June. Of course, he gets books. He doesn’t even bother shaking the packages anymore. This year I bought him the new Jeff Shaara novel, The Final Storm. My dad has read all of Shaara’s WWII novels so I think he was expecting this one. My husband received The Ancient Guide to Modern Life by Natalie Haynes. He is fascinated with the parallels between our 21st century lives and those of the ancient Romans and Greeks.
My husband and my father were watching lots of hockey last week and, although we didn’t go to the big parade in Boston, I noticed a few Bruins caps around the house over the weekend. I’m not a big hockey fan, but one of my favorite picture books is The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier. Here’s how important The Hockey Sweater is to Canadiens: an excerpt of it appears on the back of the five dollar bill! Really. I’m looking at it right now. It’s a beautiful story about the importance of hockey to Canadians, but it’s bigger than that. I always use Carrier’s story when I’m teaching The Outsiders to middle school students. The themes are the same.
The Hockey Sweater is about a boy who idolizes French-Canadian hockey star, Maurice Richard. Just like his friends, he wants to wear a Montreal Canadiens jersey with the number 9 on the back. When his mother orders it for him from the Eatons catalog, a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey arrives instead. The story is about more than hockey. It’s about national identity and how we define ourselves by identifying with well known people. It’s a perfect book to start a conversation about belonging.