Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Greatest Children's Book of All-Time

I spent most of Friday finishing continuing starting my Christmas shopping. While wandering through a book store, I found what may end up being the coolest gift of the holiday season.

Yes, there is now a full-length children's book about how awesome Wendel Clark is.

Wendel and the Great One by Mike Leonetti is the touching story of David, a young boy who is named captain of his youth hockey team. His proud father sets out to teach him about the value of leadership through the examples of two NHL captains, Wendel Clark of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and also some skinny guy from Los Angeles.

The book takes place during the 1993 season and playoffs, culminating with the Leafs and Kings meeting in the conference finals. Along the way, David learns how to be a leader on and off the ice by watching Wendel every night. I haven't read all the way through, but I'm asuming the book ends with young David cornering the school bully and punching out all his blood.

The book, in large hardcover format, includes plenty of colorful full-page illustrations by Greg Banning. Many feature Clark and Gretzky, as well as Doug Gilmour who also plays a prominent role in the story.

Let's get this out of the way now: Unfortauntely, the book doesn't have the courage to deal with Gretzky's infamous high-stick. This results in a wasted opportunity to teach children the important lesson that sometimes, terrible things happen because bad men are stupid, cowardly and dishonest.

Yes, some would argue that bringing up the Fraser incident would be too traumatic for younger children, causing them to break into tears, suffer from night terrors, and ultimately question anything that their parents may have tried to teach them about the existence of a just and loving god. On the other hand, any child being brought up as a Leaf fan might as well just learn how to miserable now.

But while Wendel and The Great One ducks the high-stick, the book does include a passage about the Clark-McSorley fight. Historians may end up regarding this as the coolest paragraph in children's literature history.

Wendel and The Great One is available from Amazon, Chapters, and your local book store. Make sure there's a copy under the tree of the young hockey fan on your Christmas list.


  1. I just sent the Amazon link to my wife. This had better be under the tree in a couple of weeks, or there will be Wendell to pay!

  2. I just ordered two.
    One for myself and one for my sister to read her grade 6 students

  3. They should have included a "What Wendel Would Have Done" section where Wendel could teach Gretz about good sportsmanship as he called the penalty on himself.

  4. My Leaf Sweater by Mike Leonetti is another great hockey book for kids.

    No sign of Wendel in that one, but there is a search for a Sittler jersey that culminates in Sittler's 10 point night versus Boston.

  5. This looks like a great book. Only a couple things would make it better:

    First, it should be ubundantly clear at the end of Game Six that Greztky has turned to the dark side, embracing evil. From that point on, the Canadian hero-boy that we knew as Wayne, who won 4 Stanley Cups, ceased to exist. American NHL-Whore Evil-Wayne never won a damn thing. That point really needs to be made if the kids are going to get anything out of this story.

    Second, it would have been really cool if this book had been written by Stu Grimson (with Wendel standing behind him, ready to punch out his blood if he messes it up).

  6. For younger kids, a good read-along book for the parents is "Z is for Zamboni" from Sleeping Bear Press.

    I've seen it in bookstores, but here is the Amazon link:

  7. Definitely, "Z is for Zamboni" is one of my daughter's favorites. There's also another in the series called "Hockey Numbers".

  8. PPP, it'd be like Gallant and Goofus from the Highlights magazines, except more blood punching.

    I should do this.