“Drop the Puck: Hockey Every Day, Every Way” is the fifth installment in Jayne J. Jones Beehler’s The Official Adventures series. The focus of Beehler’s work is to demonstrate that hockey is indeed for everyone, no matter what challenges an individual might be confronted with.
Each book in the The Official Adventures series is centered around brothers Blaine and Cullen – the former of which was born with Down syndrome and has special needs. The series is suitable for readers from 8 to 10 years of age.
With “Hockey Every Day, Every Way,” readers of the series are introduced to Lila – a spirited young hockey player who was born with cerebral palsy (CP). Lila has recently moved to “Hockeytown, USA”, the nickname for the renowned Warroad, Minnesota. As for any youngster who has gone through a family move, Lila is nervous about fitting in at her new school and with her new hockey team the Minnesota Bears.
Jones Beehler’s inspiration for the Lila character was from an actual reader of the series – a new hockey player who was also born with cerebral palsy. While CP is a permanent movement disorder that stiffens muscles and causes poor coordination, Lila is still one of the fastest skaters on her team and possesses a heart of gold.
Something Every Kid Can Relate To
“Hockey Every Day, Every Way” takes place around Valentine’s Day in February. Blaine, Cullen, Paisley, Avery and the rest of the gang explain to Lila that one of their school’s pastimes is for the students to build their own mailboxes for receiving valentines in the classroom. Most of them decide to go with a hockey-themed mailbox, including Cullen’s which is an homage to Wayne Gretzky.
The idea of exchanging valentines in school is a more time-honored tradition. Readers of any age – but particularly kids – will relate to the nervousness of giving and receiving valentines at school. How does your mailbox measure up to everyone else’s? Will you get a valentine from each one of your classmates? What about getting one from the boy or girl whom you have a crush on?
Such activities are made even more complicated when you are the new kid at school. Lila’s parents reassure her that she will do just fine with making her own mailbox, and that they will help her in coming up with ideas for a potential theme.
What Hockey Fans Will Like Most
Hockey fans will particularly enjoy the fact that Jones Beehler incorporates real life hockey players and hockey history within her books.
A key moment in the book is when Lila and company attend a Minnesota Wild NHL game at the Xcel Energy Center. The team gets to sit in the private box of Jason and Carly Zucker. Jones Beehler goes as far as having The Zuckers make an appearance in the book with dialogue and illustrated likenesses as well.
There are multiple mentions of “The Great One” Wayne Gretzky, and even a quick mention of the USA Olympian Lamoureux twins, Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando.
Jones Beehler also incorporates “Cully’s Kids” into the story. Cullen Children’s Foundation provides financial resources to organizations that support children’s healthcare needs with an emphasis on cancer.The foundation is led by 3-time Stanley Cup champion Matt Cullen and his wife Bridget.
Lastly, the character of Avery was inspired by the real-life daughter of NHL coach Dave Hakstol and his wife Erinn.
Fans will appreciate the connections that Jones Beehler makes to the actual hockey world, and how she incorporates well-known names into the story. Lila meeting the Zuckers accurately depicts the reaction any young person would have if given the same experience in real life.
A Good Read Overall
Drop the Puck: “Hockey Every Day, Every Way” is a rather cute, enjoyable read for any youngster, but especially for those with a keen interest in hockey.
The inclusiveness that Jones Beehler imbues within her story is paramount. Lila and the other children are friends and teammates first and foremost. While Jones Beehler may touch upon the children’s disabilities in the story line, the main focus is that these are kids and that this is a hockey team just like any other.
Lila is repeatedly referred to as “the queen of grit and determination”, and nothing stands in her own. The mantra for she and her family is “Wheels up! Skates on!”. Readers will enjoy seeing Lila at the rink and in her element. Having CP and a wheelchair matters not – she is a hockey player and loves the game just as much as anyone else.
This is a feel-good story, and will get readers hooked on Jones Beehler’s entire series.
General Manager of the Buffalo Beauts (NWHL). Hockey history writer “The Hockey Writers”. Credentialed media for the NHL Combine and 2018 IIHF World Junior Championships in Buffalo, NY, USA. Born and raised in Buffalo, NY. Lifelong hockey fan for over 40 years. Proponent of the women’s game.