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On the Line

On the Line
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Winters, Kari-Lynn. (2021). Illustrated by Scot Ritchie. On the Line. Toronto: Pajama Press. ISBN 978-1-77278-218-9. Ages 4-7.

In a read-aloud perfect for conversations about team stewardship and growth mindset, a boy overshadowed by a family of skilled hockey players finds an innovative way to shine.

In Jackson Moore’s small town, his family is known for producing hockey heroes—but he worries that he’ll never measure up to their amazing skills. On the ice he feels like a potato on skates, and his teammates begin to wonder if he really is a Moore. Then, when a shortage of equipment puts his team at risk of losing their spot in the Winterfest Tournament, Jackson makes a game plan of his own and realizes that his problem-solving and stewardship abilities are hallmarks of a true MVP.

Just like Jackson, award-winning author Kari-Lynn Winters grew up playing in the shadow of a big hockey family. In On the Line she demonstrates with heart and humor how scoring goals is not the only path to team heroism. An author’s note furthers the conversation about sportsmanship, teamwork, and building supportive communities. Lively art by award-winning illustrator Scot Ritchie perfectly captures the action on and off the ice as Jackson learns to celebrate the skills he has—and to enjoy the game in spite of the ones he doesn’t.



    Kirkus Reviews (June 29, 2021)

    To be a team player, sometimes you need to think creatively.

    Young Jackson Moore comes from a family of hockey players who swap goal stories at dinner. Grandpa tells Jackson, “You’ve got Moore in your blood. You’ll be great!” But Jackson isn’t so sure, and his first efforts leave him flat on the ice. The other kids think he’s too big and uncoordinated for their team. But they have problems of their own—their mismatched gear will prevent them from competing in the Winterfest Tournament. Jackson, it seems, is good at making plans. His first effort to become a better skater doesn’t pan out, but then he puts his talents toward supporting the team with the gear they need. He finds his true calling and acceptance by the team. Scratchy, bright cartoon illustrations portray a diverse cast of characters, from the team to the audience in the stands. Jackson and his family present White; the coach has brown skin. Bright swathes of greens and blues are punctuated by oranges and yellows, powering a vibrant, eye-catching palette. While it’s not entirely clear why matching gear is needed for the tournament, the plot device facilitates Jackson’s character development and sets the stage for an encouraging story for young readers who struggle with shyness and anxiety. An author’s note offers additional insight to the origin of Jackson’s story.

    Believe in yourself, trust your talents, and find resilience in stories.

    Youth Services Book Review (July 25, 2021)

    What did you like about the book: The simple text and lively illustrations in this book celebrate being a team player, thinking outside the box, and the true meaning of stewardship. Jackson Moore comes from a family of hockey heroes. His grandpa was an all-star and taught him how to make a game plan, hold a stick, and pass a puck. Jackson is not so sure about his hockey skills, he feels like a potato on skates and even his teammates question if he is a Moore due to his lack of skills on the ice. Jackson’s grandpa tells him he is good at making game plans and he gets to work on figuring out the team’s problem: not having the proper equipment to play in their upcoming Winterfest Tournament. Jackson and Grandpa save the tournament and turn Grandpa’s truck into “On the Line,” full of matching equipment for all of his teammates. His problem-solving abilities make him the true MVP! The back pages include an author’s note on team stewardship, teamwork, and building supportive relationships both on and off the ice.

    Anything you didn’t like about it? No

    To whom would you recommend this book? A great read aloud for the introduction of being part of a team, reinforcing perseverance, believing in oneself, and valuing everyone’s talents. This would be nice for coaches to share with their elementary school teams.

    Who should buy this book? Elementary schools, home and public libraries

    Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Julie Durmis, J.C. Solmonese Elementary School, Norton, MA

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