Leonetti, Mike and Banning, Greg. The Mighty Tim Horton. Toronto: North Winds Press (Scholastic), 2010.
At this time of year in the classroom, I think it’s safe to say the “honeymoon” is over with your students. From this point on, it can be a struggle to keep them engaged, but one tactic that works is connecting the curriculum to their lives. Many of your students are probably playing on a hockey or ringette team and settling into the NHL schedule for the winter, so we can thank the hockey gods that The Mighty Tim Horton has recently been published. In Leonetti and Banning’s picturebook, the main character Trevor is going to be benched unless he improves his defensive skills on the ice. On the way home from the game, Trevor’s father suggests he try to play more like his hero, Tim Horton, especially since Horton was “never mean and never tried to hurt anyone. He’d averaged only one penalty minute per game in his NHL career.” Luckily for Trevor, he happens to meet Horton, who gives him advice on having more control, and as Trevor practices his skills, he comes to the understanding that good sportsmanship will benefit him more than brute strength. It’s great that while the book (a combination of fiction with information), focuses on the respect a young player has for a hockey legend, it also reveals that you can achieve success on the ice while still demonstrating good sportsmanship.
The luminous and realistic illustrations by Banning will delight readers as well as initiate discussion: Do your students notice any differences between hockey in the 1950’s-1960’s and now? Most young readers will observe that the NHL players aren’t wearing helmets, which provides a jumping-off point for a conversation about safety in sports. The “About Tim Horton” information at the back of the book will also begin dialogue, since students will connect Horton’s name with the infamous doughnut and coffee franchise. All in all, The Mighty Tim Horton will be an interesting read in a primary classroom, and if you want to be a real “all-star” of a teacher, bring in some “Timbits” as a hook!
Check out the illustrator’s website at: http://www.gregbanning.com/Site/Welcome.html