Have you ever unexpectedly read a book in a day? You sit down with it, figuring you’ll just start it, and before you know it, you’re done? That happens to me a lot, especially with fiction and graphic novels, so I wasn’t too surprised when I read Check, Please! Book 1 by Ngozi Ukazu from cover to cover in an afternoon. If you need a quick and lighthearted read, then I can’t recommend this book enough.
Originally published in 2018, this upbeat story follows Eric Bittle, dubbed “Bitty” by his teammates, as he starts school at Samwell University as part of the men’s hockey team. He navigates a much more challenging atmosphere than he’s accustomed to, including hockey that includes violent physical ‘checking’, of which he is deathly afraid. Luckily, his teammates are true friends – utterly supportive, relentlessly funny, and deeply appreciative of Bitty’s skill as a baker. Over the course of his freshman and sophomore years at Samwell, Bitty finds his place on the team and forges a strong bond (and an equally strong crush) on team captain Jack. But what happens when Jack and the others graduate?
I found this book completely adorable, with an endearing art style and lovable characters. The immersion into Canadian hockey culture was fascinating, and I appreciated that Ukazu didn’t overwhelm the reader with too many details, giving just enough information to keep you engaged. I also really liked that the story was told in the form of Bitty’s video blog entries; this was a clever narrative tactic that worked perfectly for the graphic novel medium. However, I wasn’t always satisfied with how the scenes were fleshed out: a lot of backstories and events had to be inferred from context or brief mentions, or understood only after multiple throwaway lines. Especially in the case of romantic storylines, I just wanted more. Luckily, there was a lot of additional material after the story – bonus comics and Bitty’s Twitter feed – which helped add some details and context.
If you’re a graphic novel lover, reluctant reader, hockey fan, or are looking for a fluffy read about friendship, falling in love, and LOTS of baking, this book may be for you.
Inspired by the great performances of the Olympic athletes? Interested in trying one of those winter sports? The library has lots of books to inspire and instruct!
Hockey for Everybody by Cam Neely
Cross-Country Skiing : a Complete Guide by Brian Cazeneuve
Learn Downhill Skiing in a Weekend by Konrad Bartelski
Figure Skating for Dummies by Kristi Yamaguchi
Winter Adventure : Complete Guide to Winter Sports by Peter Stark
Snowboarding Skills by Cindy Kleh
And don’t forget about the great local resources available in our area from the Quad Cities Sports Center to the pond at VanderVeer Park.
You’re on your own for aerial ski jumping and luge!
Hollywood must have had some serious Winter Olympic fever in the early Nineties because almost all of my favorite movies featuring skates, ice and attitudes were made between 1992 and 1994–not that surprising when I remember that these were the years of the great split between the Winter and Summer Olympics, and in order to get the new schedule on track the Winter Olympics were held only two years apart (Albertville, France in 1992 and Lillehammer, Norway in 1994). Here are my favorites:
The Cutting Edge:
I may have only been in elementary school when this movie first came out, but I was apparently woman enough to completely swoon over a tough guy hockey player getting in touch with his figure-skating sensitive side. Note that this movie was an obvious inspiration for the heated relationship between Will Ferrell and Jon Heder in 2007’s Blades of Glory.
D2: The Mighty Ducks
D3: The Mighty Ducks:
From these movies I learned that the best way to deal with a person is to quack at them, flying Vs are unstoppable (unless you are playing the Varsity team), and Joshua Jackson is pretty awesome.
This family comedy may skew the truth a lot from the events surrounding the real 1988 Jamaican bobsled team (I never realized how much until I was reading the Cool Runnings wikipedia post before writing this blog entry), but that won’t stop the tears from streaming down my face every time I watch it. And Doug E. Doug is hilarious! I wonder if I would be funnier if my name was Amber L Amber…
They’re back! The Winter Olympics return with the Opening Ceremonies tonight. Taking place in Vancouver, British Columbia, they’ll serve as a showcase for obscure (to most Americans!) winter sports and the beautiful country of Canada. Join the blogging librarians over the next two weeks as we discuss all things Olympics, winter sports and Canadian!
I’ll start things off with a look at one of the iconic moments in sports history – the defeat of the mighty Soviet hockey team by the little regarded United States team at the Lake Placid Olympics in 1980 – an event that can still send chills down your spine.
The Cold War was still at its height and relations between the Soviet Union and the United States were tense at best. The Soviet team was stocked with seasoned professionals that had played together for years; the American team was made up entirely of college players, thrown together just a few months earlier. The US had never been considered a hockey powerhouse on the international stage, yet Coach Herb Brooks was able to mold this ragtag group of players into a team that challenged – and beat – the best in the world.
You can relive these events through the movie Miracle, starring Kurt Russell and Patricia Clarkson. From the recruitment of the players to the rigorous training and team building to the tense game situations (this team did not win every game that they played!) you never loose sight of the fact that these are ordinary people thrown into an extraordinary situation, achieving more than they – or anyone – dreamed possible. In the words of Al Michaels, “Do you believe in miracles? YES!”