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Swim to Win

September 11th, 2012 by Carrie Gleason


One of the most astounding things about the 2012 summer Olympics was just how young some of the competitors were. In addition to their incredible feats of athleticism, it can make you wonder: What's it like for these athletes having to train, travel, and compete, while their teenage friends are out doing what "normal" teenagers do? What do they miss?

For young athletes who want to know, the main character in Swim to Win gives them a glimpse into this lifestyle. Former nationally ranked swimmer Vallery Hyduk draws on her own experiences as a teenager when she created the character of Lasha, a promising young swimmer who is at the cusp of becoming a world-ranking swimmer.

For young athletes already in training for a future in professional sports or top-level competition, the character's frustrations, determination, and dreams will ring true.

Swim To Win is a novel in the Lorimer Sports Stories series for ages 10-13.

Not Out

September 11th, 2012 by Carrie Gleason


What does the fictional young black character in Dirk McLean's cricket novel Not Out have in common with real-life Canadian speedskater Clara Hughes? Finding sport as a teenager changed the direction of both their lives.

The story is not a new one, but it is one that needs to be told over and over again. Famous athletes like Clara have said it, and organizations that raise funds so at-risk kids can play sports make it their mandate. Sport can make all the difference in the lives of troubles kids and teens. It gives them something positive to focus their energy on and a feeling of acceptance and accomplishment.

In Not Out, fictional character Dex is angry. He lost his parents in an accident a few years ago and now lives with his aunt in a Scarborough apartment. It seems as though he's in a constant battle — not only with rival athletes but his own teammates and, ultimately, himself. Dex has been kicked off every team at his school for unsportsmanlike conduct. Finally the only team that will have him is the cricket team. For many kids, cricket is an unknown sport — even though it is rapidly growing in popularity in many Canadian cities. But if Dex is going to succeed at the "gentleman's sport," he first needs to learn to exert some self control.     

Dirk McLean was born in Trinidad, but now lives in Toronto. He has worked as an actor and with at-risk kids with the Toronto District School Board. Not Out is a novel in the Lorimer Sports Stories series for ages 10-13. (Also available is the cricket novel Wicket Season by Gabrielle Prendergast.)

Fighting for Gold

September 11th, 2012 by Carrie Gleason

For kids who are looking for non-fiction sports bios about athletes, Lorimer publishes the Recordbooks series. These books tell the stories of famous Canadian athletes who have had to overcome adversity. As well, the books have a low reading level, which makes them perfect for sports fans who are struggling readers.

Fighting for Gold

Fighting for Gold is the story of the 2006 Paralympic Hockey team and shows how these players travel, play hockey (and win!), and live with a physical disability. Hockey Canada insider Lorna Schultz Nicholson was at the games when the team won and interviewed the athletes for this book. (This book is a great choice for units on empathy.)


While Canadians today take it for granted that our athletes will excel in events at the Winter Games, it hasn't always been that way. Crazy Canucks, also in the Recordbooks series, is the story of the Canadian ski team who took the world by storm in the 70s and 80s with their daring. Sportswriter Eric Zweig takes readers up close and personal with the skiers that proved to the world what Canadians were made of!


Hockey history buffs will enjoy the story of the Winnipeg Falcons, the first team to win gold when hockey was made an Olympic sport at the 1920 summer games (it was moved to the winter games in 1924). Long Shot in the Recordbooks series is also written by hockey historian Eric Zweig.



Q+A: Do your kids have what it takes to make it?

September 14th, 2012 by Carrie Gleason

The authors who contribute to our sports series know a thing or two about sports. Many of them are not only themselves former (and current) athletes, but they follow, report on, blog about, and watch a ton of sports. We asked them they think is the number one lesson that sports can teach kids about life.


Trevor Kew: "I've been a soccer goalkeeper for twenty years, since first picking up a pair of gloves at the age of eleven. Being a goalkeeper is great, but there is one problem: in twenty years, you end up letting in a lot of goals. All those practices, all those games — all those balls hitting the back of the net behind you! I've never found this easy; every goal that goes in, whether because of a beautiful shot or a terrible goalkeeping mistake, feels like a crushing personal failure. On one hand, I think this is a necessary feeling, because if you don't feel terrible when you let in a goal, you won't try hard enough to save every shot. On the other hand, it's very easy to lose confidence and become negative. The important thing to remember is to pick yourself up off the ground and move on. This is especially true for goalkeepers, who actually end up on the ground when they've failed, but it is also true in other sports, and more broadly, in school, relationships, and life."


In Trevor Kew's new soccer novel, Playing Favourites, main character learns a thing or two about failure, not as a player, but as the team's stand-in coach!

Visit Trevor online at



Lorna Schultz Nicholson: "Sport teaches children how to work hard to achieve goals. Every skill in sport, from catching a ball to learning to skate to hitting a tennis ball, takes time to perfect and often a child will have to “just keep trying” to finally succeed. Success in life is about not giving up and sport can give children the tools to work hard to do well in school, and eventually in the career of their choice."


In Lorna Schultz Nicholson's new Podium book, Once Cycle, lacrosse player Nathan tries to take the easy way out by taking steroids to get bigger.

Visit Lorna online at


Dirk McLean

Dirk McLean: "I think that the number one lesson that sports can teach kids about life is co-operation — working with others towards a common goal. Whether one is part of a team or working one-on-one with a coach, the spirit of co-operation is a necessary learning tool."


In Dirk McLean's new cricket novel, Not Out, Dex Armstrong learns how to put the past behind him and get along with others for the sake of the team.

Read an interview with multi-talented Dirk (he's not only a writer; he's also an actor!) here:



Steven Sandor: "For team sports, soccer especially, it's about working together toward a common goal. Soccer is not a sport that's about padding stats; the best player on the team could be someone who only scores once or twice a season but does a lot of things that lead to goals or taking the ball from the other team. It's about becoming something greater than a sum of all the parts."


Steven Sandor's first sports novel for kids is Playing For Keeps, about a young Croatian Canadian finding his place on his team, and in Canadian society.

Visit Steven online at


Writing queer lit for young adults

September 27th, 2012 by Kendra Martin

We asked SideStreets author Michael Harris about his inspiration for his debut YA novel, Homo.

 "I grew up in a sleepy suburb and, when I was 17, took myself to the local library in search of some answers. When no one was looking, I searched for “homosexual” in the card catalogue and found listings for two books: a psychiatric guide to mental illness and a memoir by Stan Persky that detailed his adventures with male prostitutes. They were both interesting but hardly seemed like a reflection of the life I was living, or the one I wanted to lead. So, when it came to writing a queer novel for today’s teenager, I couldn’t help feeling some responsibility to my younger self, who so desperately wanted to read about people like him. The subject matter and tone I arrived at do come pretty close to what my 17-year-old self would have asked for: a troubled hero who’s seriously at odds with the “gay culture” he’s beginning to inherit, and yet who would sacrifice almost anything to enter into the secret lives of men in the city.

Another major influence has been the reporting I’ve done on young gay guys and HIV. Because, like me, a lot of young guys are coming of age thinking that the old gay world has nothing to do with them, including the HIV crisis. They end up ignoring those old messages about safe sex and condom use. HIV seems so passé. As a result, rates of infection among young gay guys have been rising. I guess that’s part of the argument behind this novel—that we ignore our history at our peril."

Homo cover art

Michael Harris's new SideStreets novel, Homo, follows Will Johnson, who, after being outed by his friend on Facebook, learns that he can be an individual while still connected to others.


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