Does every Canadian kid know we have two official national sports: lacrosse (summer) and hockey (winter)? Do they know lacrosse gets its name from the crozier (staff) carried by French bishops? Many kids know that basketball was invented here, but do they know synchronized swimming and five-pin bowling are also homegrown? If they don’t now, they will after reading Susan Hughes’ informative and entertaining Canadian Sports.
Hughes’ book provides four colour-coded chapters, written in a fun and informative tone: Canada’s national sports, sports invented in Canada, our most popular sports, and great athletes and moments. On the “most popular” front, soccer, Canadian gridiron football, and curling all get due treatment, though oddly, snowboarding – hugely popular with kids – is relegated to a sidebar with motocross, BMX, and in-line skating.
The section focusing on athletes and great moments could have been larger, though it does cover a wide range in its eight entries. Usual suspects such as Wayne Gretzky and Steve Nash make appearances, as well as less-familiar figures such as native marathon champion Tom Longboat and Paralympian Chantal Petitclerc. (One quibble: Hughes tells us Gretzky was the youngest player to reach 50 goals in one NHL season, but neglects to tell us how old he was at the time.) Sadly, no lacrosse players are featured, and while our 2002 Olympic hockey teams receive space, there’s no mention of our tremendously successful junior hockey teams.
Backed up by lots of great action photos, Canadian Sports covers a lot of territory and, despite its gaps, will serve as a great primer for kids.