Request: Hockey Books

GoalieI need some help and I’m hoping that will all the combined knowledge out there in the kidlitosphere this will be easy! I work in a bookstore in Wisconsin and I get at least six requests for kids’ hockey books a day. Any kind of hockey books and all ages are asked for. I know of some, but not nearly enough and I can’t think of hardly any fiction for anyone past the early chapter book level (and beginning readers are scarce too). Good biographies of players would be great, nonfiction on hockey, picture books, beginning readers, middle grade, I even need some fiction for teenagers if it’s out there! Basically, anything beyond Matt Christopher as far as chapter books would be great. I’ve found some suggestions online, but I’d love to hear about any good ones people know of or have read or have heard about. Anything. Even if it’s only available in Canada, it’ll give me something to recommend! Thank you for any suggestions you come up with!

Picture Books:

- That’s Hockey by David Bouchard, illustrated by Dean Griffiths
- Franklin Plays Hockey by Paulette Bourgeois, illustrated by Brenda Clark
- The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier, illustrated by Sheldon Cohen
- The Kid Line by Teddy Jam, illustrated by Ange Zhang
- The Goalie Mask by Mike Leonetti, illustrated by Shayne Letain
- Gretzky’s Game (Hockey Heroes Series) by Mike Leonetti, illustrated by Greg Banning
- Number Four, Bobby Orr! by Mike Leonetti, illustrated by Shayne Letain
- The Magic Hockey Stick by Peter Maloney and Felicia Zekauskas
- The Magic Hockey Skates by Allen Morgan, illustrated by Michael Martchenko
- Hat Tricks Count: A Hockey Number Book by Matt Napier, illustrated by Melanie Rose
- Z Is For Zamboni: A Hockey Alphabet by Matt Napier, illustrated by Melanie Rose
- When I Grow Up I’m Going to Be a Hockey Star by Kimberly Jo Simac

Easy Chapter Books:

- Arthur and the Goalie Ghost by Marc Brown
- The Hockey Machine by Matt Christopher
- Ice Magic by Matt Christopher
- Penalty Shot by Matt Christopher
- Frankenstein Doesn’t Slam Hockey Pucks by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones, illustrated by John Steven Gurney

Middle Grade Chapter Books:

- The Screech Owl Series by Roy MacGregor
- The Mystery of the Morphing Hockey Stick by P. J. McMahon, illustrated by John Manders
- The Hockey Mystery by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Nonfiction:

- How Hockey Works by Keltie Thomas

Gender-Flipped Tales: Rumpelstiltskin

RumpelstiltskinThe Tale:

There was once upon a time a poor miller who had a very handsome son. Now it happened one day that she had an audience with the Queen, and in order to appear a person of some importance she told her that she had a son who could spin straw into gold. “Now that’s a talent worth having,” said the Queen to the miller; “if your son is as clever as you say, bring him to my palace to-morrow, and I’ll put him to the test.” When the boy was brought to her she led him into a room full of straw, gave him a spinning-wheel and spindle, and said: “Now set to work and spin all night till early dawn, and if by that time you haven’t spun the straw into gold you shall die.” Then she closed the door behind her and left him alone inside.

So the poor miller’s son sat down, and didn’t know what in the world he was to do. He hadn’t the least idea of how to spin straw into gold, and became at last so miserable that he began to cry. Suddenly the door opened, and in stepped a tiny little woman and said: “Good-evening, Master Miller-lad; why are you crying so bitterly?” “Oh!” answered the boy, “I have to spin straw into gold, and haven’t a notion how it’s done.” “What will you give me if I spin it for you?” asked the manikin. “My chain,” replied the boy. The little woman took the necklace, sat herself down at the wheel, and whir, whir, whir, the wheel went round three times, and the bobbin was full. Then she put on another, and whir, whir, whir, the wheel went round three times, and the second too was full; and so it went on till the morning, when all the straw was spun away, and all the bobbins were full of gold. As soon as the sun rose the Queen came, and when she perceived the gold she was astonished and delighted, but her heart only lusted more than ever after the precious metal. She had the miller’s son put into another room full of straw, much bigger than the first, and bade him, if he valued his life, spin it all into gold before the following morning. The boy didn’t know what to do, and began to cry; then the door opened as before, and the tiny little woman appeared and said: “What’ll you give me if I spin the straw into gold for you?” “The ring from my finger,” answered the boy. The manikin took the ring, and whir! round went the spinning-wheel again, and when morning broke she had spun all the straw into glittering gold. The Queen was pleased beyond measure at the sights but her greed for gold was still not satisfied, and she had the miller’s son brought into a yet bigger room full of straw, and said: “You must spin all this away in the night; but if you succeed this time you shall become my husband.” “He’s only a miller’s son, it’s true,” she thought; “but I couldn’t find a richer husband if I were to search the whole world over.” When the boy was alone the little woman appeared for the third time, and said: “What’ll you give me if I spin the straw for you once again?” “I’ve nothing more to give,” answered the boy. “Then promise me when you are King to give me your first child.” “Who knows what may not happen before that?” thought the miller’s son; and besides, he saw no other way out of it, so he promised the manikin what she demanded, and she set to work once more and spun the straw into gold. When the Queen came in the morning, and found everything as she had desired, she straightway made him her husband, and the miller’s son became a king.

Spinning WheelWhen a year had passed a beautiful daughter was born to him, and he thought no more of the little woman, till all of a sudden one day she stepped into his room and said: “Now give me what you promised.” The King was in a great state, and offered the little woman all the riches in his kingdom if she would only leave him the child. But the manikin said: “No, a living creature is dearer to me than all the treasures in the world.” Then the King began to cry and sob so bitterly that the little woman was sorry for him, and said: “I’ll give you three days to guess my name, and if you find it out in that time you may keep your child.”

Then the King pondered the whole night over all the names he had ever heard, and sent a messenger to scour the land, and to pick up far and near any names she could come across. When the little woman arrived on the following day he began with Kaspa, Melanie, Bella, and all the other names he knew, in a string, but at each one the manikin called out: “That’s not my name.” The next day he sent to inquire the names of all the people in the neighborhood, and had a long list of the most uncommon and extraordinary for the little woman when she made her appearance. “Is your name, perhaps, Sheepshanks Cruickshanks, Spindleshanks?” but she always replied: “That’s not my name.” On the third day the messenger returned and announced: “I have not been able to find any new names, but as I came upon a high hill round the corner of the wood, where the foxes and hares bid each other good night, I saw a little house, and in front of the house burned a fire, and round the fire sprang the most grotesque little woman, hopping on one leg and crying:

“To-morrow I brew, to-day I bake,
And then the child away I’ll take;
For little deems my royal game
That Rumpelstiltskin is my name!”

Rumpelstiltskin BowingYou may imagine the King’s delight at hearing the name, and when the little woman stepped in shortly afterward and asked: “Now, my lord King, what’s my name?” he asked first: “Is your name Cora?” “No.” “Is your name Hattie?” “No.” “Is your name perhaps, Rumpelstiltskin?” “Some demon has told you that, some demon has told you that!” screamed the little woman, and in her rage drove her right foot so far into the ground that it sank in up to her waist; then in a passion she seized the left foot with both hands and tore herself in two.

by The Brothers Grimm (available in its original form at SurLaLune Fairy Tales)

Thoughts:

I’m actually really pleased with the flipped version of this story. I actually like Rumpelstiltskin as a woman far more than as a man – spinning has always been a woman’s art, so it’s only fitting that a woman should know the secret of spinning straw into gold while a man should not. The other characters don’t change a whole lot in the flipping. The Queen doesn’t seem odd for the greed just as the King didn’t (repulsive, maybe, but not odd). Women boast as often as men do, so the Miller’s flip doesn’t seem out of place at all either. Why she would boast that her son excelled at something really only women usually do, who knows, but maybe she spoke before she really had time to think about it. As for the boy himself, well, who wouldn’t be distraught in that situation? I think he’s perfectly realistic. More than the girl, even, since he likely wouldn’t even know how to begin when put in front of a spinning wheel, whereas she would almost certainly know at least how it usually works and in her desperation try to spin the straw. Yes, I think this story works wonderfully well as a gender-flipped tale! This may even be the best one so far!

Women in Videogame Promotional Art: NCsoft’s Game Girls

Tabula Rasa Promo ArtI’m always on the lookout for gaming art with images of women that make me want to play the game or, even better, play that particular female character. I was a kid in the era when Ms. Pac-Man and Princess Peach were about the only female characters that were terribly prominent in the video game world. This led me to believe for a long time that video games weren’t really for me. I didn’t really want to be a princess in a pink frilly dress who constantly needed rescuing (What is up with that anyway? Somebody needs to buy Peach some books on how to be self-reliant!). Anyway, we’re beyond that now. These days, women are everywhere in the world of video games. Unfortunately, they still have a ways to go when it comes to being attractive as avatar images for women.

Not too long ago I got an email from NCsoft advertising their various Massive games (I play one of their games, so I get emails from them periodically). For each game there was an accompanying piece of promotional art. The art did not please me very much. At the top of the email was an image for the game Tabula Rasa featuring a man and a woman (it’s the top image in this post). The man is fully armored, is wearing a helmet, and is holding a large weapon out in front of him. He looks ready for action, if maybe not as well protected in the facial area as one might wish. The woman, on the other hand, wears no protective gear on her head at all (except for the stylin’ shades that appear to really be goggles of some kind) and her “armor” is skin-tight leather. Skin-tight to the point where even her nipples are showing. She’s also in a really dumb pose entirely designed to throw her breasts forward. It’s actually pretty uncomfortable to stand that way in real life (I tried it before writing this post). It also looks stupid in real life. So, to recap on this image – the man is armored and looks ready to fight the ‘Bane’ while the woman is dressed and posed like a sex object. Presumably they are both in situations where bullets are flying at them. Yeah, that makes sense.

Guild Wars Promo ArtThe next game in the email was Guild Wars, specifically an ad for the Eye of the North expansion. The expansion’s promo art so far has given me the impression that it has sort of a Norse theme. That’s pretty cool. I would have loved to have seen a Valkyrie or something in the ad, but instead I get this girl (see the image to the left). She’s standing in what appears to be a pretty cold place (whites and blues and frosty effects) and she’s in front of a bear-like creature. You’d think she’d be wearing armor or fur or something to protect her from the cold. She’d need protection when she goes out fighting scary ice creatures with her cool bear companion or whatever he is, right? Instead she’s dressed like a stripper in a gold bra, connected by the thinnest strip to a tiny swimsuit bottom of thin straps that seems designed to expose every bit of flesh possible. Her arms are completely covered by cool sleeves, but those sleeves connect to absolutely nothing. Nevertheless, they’re probably the only thing keeping her warm at all. Not that it would help, since she’s still going to die of frostbite long before she even finds the ice creatures, bear companion or no. This is not encouraging, and makes me wonder how that picture can represent the same game as this one. I actually really like some of the promotional art for this game, but it seems like for every empowering piece there are two like this.

City of Heroes/City of Villains Promo ArtNext up are the paired games City of Heroes and City of Villains. There are three people in this image – two men and a woman. This time all three are equally armed with swords of various types (see image to the right). The men, however, are fully covered. One even has serious shoulder armor to protect him, while the other sports more of a corporate-samurai look. On one of the men you can’t see a scrap of skin below the neck while on the other only the thinnest strip around the elbows is visible. The woman, on the other hand, is not so well protected. She’s in a short, pleated skirt (really practical for fighting crime, I’m sure) and a halter top. Her knee-high boots leave much of her legs exposed and her cute little wrist-length gloves aren’t really any protection for her arms. But she’s a superhero, right? Maybe she’s invulnerable. I’ll buy that. It’s that kind of game (although why girls who are invulnerable run around wearing very little and guys still cover up is a mystery to me). The problem still stands that she looks like an overdeveloped schoolgirl while the guys look like grown-men to be taken seriously. I’m not saying that overgrown schoolgirl superheroes shouldn’t exist, I’m just saying maybe this isn’t the best image for NCsoft to have chosen to represent female characters in the game. If you’re going for a bad-ass look to the image (and the weapons, poses and two of the figures’ outfits suggest you are), don’t decide to go with an infantalized image for the one woman – make her bad-ass too.

Dungeon Runners Promo ArtThe fourth game discussed in the email is one I’d not previously heard of – Dungeon Runners. The image in the email (see left) shows a tall, thin redhead wearing a skin-tight cat suit of sorts. It’s cut out from her neck to below her navel and only held shut by a small gold clip. The cat suit is sleeveless, but the woman wears separate three-quarter sleeves, apparently for style since her shoulders are completely bare. A belt that clearly carries nothing hangs stylishly at her hips. Since the game description suggested a D&D-style dungeon-crawling game, I wondered about this outfit. It’s useless as armor, the woman bears no weapon, has no equipment or even a backpack, and generally appears more ready for an evening in a nightclub than a dungeon-crawl of any kind. The few screenshots I could find of this game suggest that the in-game characters appear nothing like this – they look more squashed, cartoony and (shocker, here) armored. So where this piece of art came from and who decided it was good promo art for the game I have no idea. I do know that this particular piece of art does not make me want to play. It makes me wonder if the game follows the classic fantasy gaming rule of inverse armor (where the higher your level, the less skin you cover if you play a female character), which definitely doesn’t make me want to play. If I’m going to be fighting someone with claws or a sword, I’m going to be doing it with a breastplate (or something, anyway) on, thank you very much!

Lineage II Promo ArtThe last game discussed in the email was Lineage II. Now, this game’s primary market is Korea and other parts of Asia and the art is very Anime-like. I realize that asking for non-striper, non-infantalized women is a stretch, but this image still bothered me (see right). The girl in this image is so stupidly dressed that it’s actually really hard for me not to laugh at her. The bodice looks just like a rubber one I saw on a booth babe at Gen Con a few years back. And what’s with the ridiculously armored panties? Seriously, armored panties are about the dumbest thing ever and these ones look like they’ll stab her with their pointy decorative bits. Of course, not as badly as her shoulder piece will if she happens to tilt her head a little too far. And again, what’s with covering up her arm completely and leaving her torso nearly naked? What, arms aren’t sexy so they can be used to kind of suggest armor, but heaven forbid we cover up anything with sex appeal to it! This outfit just doesn’t make any sense at all. I just want to wrap her in a towel and tell her it’s going to be ok.

Seriously, I like videogames. I even like NCsoft’s games. I just can’t figure out what’s up with the art that is used to promote games. I could as easily have picked just about any other major game company to pick on for this post (and the idea for the post had been in my head long before I got this particular email). NCsoft just happened to send me the perfect set of sample images all in one place. The thing is, SOE’s images are just as bad (check out any of the Everquest or EQII promo art). So are Blizzard’s (I’ve even talked about their avatars before). By and large, the art that’s out there is just awful when it comes to portraying women. I’m not saying there aren’t exceptions because there are. NCsoft has even made some of those exceptions. The problem is that if so much of it is bad, it doesn’t exactly draw women to play.

Like I said, I already like videogames. I play them. But I pick up a videogame magazine and generally find myself feeling sick. Flipping through the ads in a typical gaming magazine generally makes me not want to play anything – except maybe Viva Pinata – for several days. This is clearly a problem. And it’s not just a problem with me. There are mountains of articles out there talking about how the gaming industry isn’t reaching out to women, how it isn’t making them feel welcome, asking where all the women gamers are and how to create more of them. Maybe rather than making “girl games”, which pretty much everyone agrees generally suck, the industry could try to better brand the games they have so that women felt invited to play them like men did. I know it’s kind of a radical concept, but we know there are women who like to play these games already. Why not advertise them in such a way that is going to make them appear appealing to other women?

Hint number one: half-clothed women and chest-thrusting poses that look really dumb when tried by real women are not the way to do that.