Friday, June 17, 2005

Skating Books

Ice skating is a really weird sport. It is very athletic, creative, and just plain fun. But the "industry" is riddled with problems. It's expensive, the "end goal" is strange, the judging is stranger still. Critiquing skating is like judging ballet. Both are artistic/sporting endeavors requiring enormous strength and skill, but we'd never dream of rating the individual performances of ballet dancers. It's a sport that attracts competitive parents and requires a lot of money to participate at a higher level. Rinks are often unique ecosystems of their own with bizarre cliques (hockey vs. figure, Russian vs. U.S., etc).

Children's books about skating are not as numerous as you would think. There are the two classics—Noel Streatfield's Skating Shoes and Mary Mapes Dodge's Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates. Both are great reads even today. Each big girl series (Nancy Drew, Boxcar Children, Babysitters Club, etc. has a skating book. My favorite title is the Nancy Drew skating book—Not Nice on Ice. Funny. And, better than On Thin Ice which is a very popular title in all genres. Other than a recent series sponsored by Michelle Kwan (sponsored by? endorsed by? Her name is on the covers, but she doesn't write them), only a handful of recent children's novels on skating have been published (3). One looks particularly good: Frozen Rodeo by Catherine Clark.