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Sports fan first, author second

October 27th, 2011 by Carrie Gleason

Know kids who love sports, but books . . . not so much?

Forever champions coverFearless cover

Richard Brignall is a sports fan first, and it is this love of sports allows him make an easy connection to kids who like sports more than books. Based in Kenora, Ontario, Rick travels around northern Ontario, to Winnipeg, and even as far as Edmonton introducing kids and teens to  Canadian sports history legends. Some they know of already, some they don't. By starting with sports, he finds ways of making connections that encourage reluctant readers to try his books.

Rick's latest book, coming this fall, focuses on what is probably the biggest Canadian sports story of all time — the cold war hockey series fought out in 1972 between Canada and Russia. It's coming up to the 40th anniversary of this famous series, and this new book is geared to young readers who are interested in learning more about the background to this legendary tournament.

Rick's other Recordbooks cover a broad range of topics. They run from the all-star Edmonton Grads, a renegade women' basketball team in the 1920s-30s; to tough-guy boxer George Chuvalo, who went head-to-head with the biggest boxing stars of the '60s and '70s — including Muhammad Ali and George Foreman — but was never once knocked out! 

china clipper cover

But there's always a bigger story behind the topics Rick chooses. Kids attracted to a book about  Major Leaguer Fergie Jenkins in Big League Dreams, will also be learning about how this great ballplayer is descended from black slaves who fled to Canada via the Underground Railroad and the significance of becoming the first African Canadian to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In the book China Clipper, Rick shares with readers the story of how a Chinese Canadian kid discovered that he had a talent for football, and became the first Chinese Canadian to play in the CFL. Later, Edmonton Eskimo player Normie Kwong became Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta.

big train coversmall town glory coverSummit Series '72

Altogether Rick has published five narrative sports biographies in the Lorimer Recordbooks series. Richard Brignall's book Big Train, about Lionel Conacher — Canada's Greatest Male Athlete of the Half-Century (1950) — is currently nominated for the Red Cedar Information Award.

richard brignall

For more on Rick, check out his website at


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