By: Jayne J. Jones Beehler
Illustrated by: Cory Jones
Publisher: Whitaker House Publishing
Publication Date: September 7, 2021
Reviewed by: Katie Specht
Review Date: August 2021
From author Jayne J. Jones Beehler comes the first book in the Drop the Puck series titled It’s Hockey Season. An illustrated chapter book, It’s Hockey Season is perfect for young readers ages 7-11 years old. This book is the first in a series of three, preceding Hooray for Hockey Day and Hockey Every Day, Every Way.
It’s Hockey Season follows the story of two avid hockey fans and brothers, Blaine and Cullen. These brothers share an unbreakable bond. Cullen is the captain of a hockey team and Blaine, who has Down syndrome, is the team manager. The story starts as the brothers are preparing for the beginning of hockey season with the annual day after Thanksgiving tournament. As the team manager, Blaine busies himself with organizing the team’s gear and readying water bottles. As usual, his enthusiasm and positive attitude are evident as he gets everything game ready. All the parents are seated eagerly on the bleachers, their cameras ready in their hands for the moment when the puck drops.
The game does not begin well for Cullen and Blaine’s team. They can’t seem to get their offense going and they keep hindering themselves by ending up in the penalty box. Cullen’s frustration with the game builds until he explodes at Blaine in the locker room during the first intermission, telling him that he is not a part of the team. Blaine sadly walks away, feeling hurt. The second period does not go much better, and Cullen finds himself spending most of the period in the penalty box due to playing unfairly. The team has one period left to get it together if they want to come away with a victory. Blaine also has a surprise in store for the team that is sure to energize them and lift their spirits.
While the premise of It’s Hockey Season is obviously hockey, there is so much more to this story than simply the sport of hockey. With this book, Jones Beehler teaches young readers about good sportsmanship, teamwork, and the inclusion of others. By incorporating a main character with special needs into the story, the author is normalizing Down syndrome and teaching kids to treat others with respect, regardless of their differences.
Book characters with special needs are, unfortunately, the exception rather than the rule in children’s literature today. With this delightful book series, Jones Beehler will undoubtedly appeal to readers with special needs, who will be ecstatic to read about characters who are just like them.
Quill says: Author Jayne J. Jones Beehler has a winner with It’s Hockey Season. Kids will love the fun illustrations and relatable story of determination and perseverance, and parents will appreciate the numerous valuable lessons about empathy, respect, teamwork, and good sportsmanship.