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Jordin Tootoo

The highs and lows in the journey of the first Inuk to play in the NHL

by Melanie Florence

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hockey, prejudice & racism, sports & recreation
list price: $8.95
also available: Hardcover Paperback Paperback
published: 2011
imprint: Lorimer
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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
12 to 18
7 to 12
Reading age:
12 to 18
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Association of Book Publishers of BC
Librarian review

Jordin Tootoo: The Highs and the Lows in the Journey of the First Inuit to Play in the NHL

On October 9, 2003, Jordin Tootoo played his first NHL game for the Nashville Predators. This was especially impressive because he was the first ever Inuit person to play in the NHL. The story of Jordin’s rise to fame is a captivating one. Life at home in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut was very different from the big cities where he eventually went to pursue his dream. This book chronicles the ups and downs of Tootoo’s personal life and career including his decision to go into rehab in 2010, as he fought to achieve his goal of playing hockey in the NHL. The author combines information about aboriginal life and the history of Canada’s north with hockey facts and Tootoo’s personal data in simple, straightforward text. Includes a glossary.

The suicide of his brother is included in the story.

Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. Canadian Aboriginal Books for Schools. 2011-2012.

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  • Commended, Honourable Mention - American Indian Youth Literature Award
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Hockey is a relatively new sport in Canada's North. It wasn't until 2003 that Jordin Kudluk "Thunder" Tootoo became the first Inuk to play in an NHL game. Although hockey is a rough sport to begin with, Jordin Tootoo is known for having to "fight his way through." Jordin has had more than his fair share of fights both on and off the ice. He's had to overcome the social problems that are associated with the North, fight his way through the discrimination and culture shock he encountered after leaving Rankin Inlet and moving to Alberta to play in the Juniors, and see his way through the grief of losing his NHL-bound older brother and hero, Terence Tootoo, to suicide in 2002.
This new biography explores the struggles and accomplishments of the most recognized role model for young Aboriginal and Inuit people today. [Fry Reading Level - 4.6

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It's cold in the arena. But for a guy who plays in a rink that's about minus twenty back home, this is nothing.
The sound of blades cutting a path across the ice can be heard above the screams of the fans. The sound of the player's own breathing rasps in his ears. He leans to the left and turns easily. He sees the puck out of the corner of his eye. He glides over to it. In one smooth, fluid motion, he lifts his stick high into the air. He pauses for a split second before bringing it down. A satisfying crack sounds off the ice. The puck soars across the ice to a teammate, who moves it toward the net.
He sees another player skating toward his teammate, intent on stealing the puck. Ice sprays as he skids to a stop, then takes off again. Gaining power as he gets closer and closer, he's at top speed by the time he reaches the other side of the rink. He passes players without looking. Without slowing, he hones in on his target. He angles his head down and clocks the other player with his shoulder. Hard. They both go down. The crowd goes wild. His reputation as a player is built on hits like this. Playing all out and hitting hard is how he played back home with his older brother. It's who he is. He sees no reason to change now. The fans are on their feet screaming and chanting, "Tootoo! Tootoo! Tootoo!" Before he can even notice the sound of his name echoing through the building, Jordin Tootoo is off down the ice, already focusing on the next hit, the next play, the next goal.

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Contributor notes

MELANIE FLORENCE is a proud Cree and a full-time journalist and children's writer currently based in Toronto. Melanie is working on her first YA novel, the story of an Aboriginal boy growing up on the rez.

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Editorial Reviews

"Though the primary focus of this book is hockey, the book covers a wide range of topics and issues that a young reader can take away with them, such as the rights of Inuit people on their land, the federal governments description and recognition of Indigenous peoples, racism"

— Windspeaker

Though the primary focus of this book is hockey...also covers a wide range of topics and issues that will likely lead to further discussion, including rights of Inuit people on their land, the federal government's description and recognition of indigenous peoples, racism and the higher incidence of Aboriginal youth suicide.

— CM Magazine

This biography follows Jordin's childhood in the Arctic, rooted in Inuit tradition and his parents' constant support...Photographs and factoid insets spread throughout the biography help the reader visualize Tootoo's childhood. Rich descriptive language brings the reader into the hockey game where "blades cut a path across the ice and breathing rasps."
Curriculum Connections: This text lends itself well as a resource for biography research and writing units, supports a character study for sports and Aboriginal heroes, and packs enough action to be a great "book for boys" in a classroom library.

— Canadian Teacher

Like her subject, the author doesn't pull many punches in Tootoo's rousing, rather hard-bitten tale, which, thankfully, has a storybook ending aimed directly at teenage-boy reluctant readers.

— www.kirkusreviews.com

...Tootoo's story is as much a tale about two brothers as it is about the love of hockey...With text boxes and photographs that complement the story and contribute to the reader's experience, each page of this fast paced read details Tootoo's ambition and fighting spirit.

— Resource Links
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About the Author

Melanie Florence

Melanie Florence is an award-winning writer of Cree and Scottish heritage. She wrote Stolen Words in honor of her grandfather. Melanie never had the chance to speak to him about his Cree heritage, and the story is about the healing relationship she wishes she had been able to have with him. Her book Jordin Tootoo was an American Indian Library Association Honor Book, and Missing Nimama won the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award. Melanie lives with her family in Toronto.
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