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CATFISH AND A PIE IN THE FACE, PLEASE: NASHVILLE HERE WE COME

SOUTHERN HOCKEY, SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY. THAT’S A COMBINATION I’M READY TO MEET!

HOCKEY’S STARS WILL SHINE IN NASHVILLE THIS MONTH WHEN THE HONDA ALL-STAR GAME COMES TO TENNESSEE, THE HOME OF THE NASHVILLE PREDATORS. ON PAPER, THE EXCITEMENT LOOKS LIKE THIS:

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THE GUY WITH ALL OF THE PIES IS … GNASH. THE HOME TEAM’S MASCOT. JUST LIKE FANS WHO LIKE TO WHIRL A CATFISH ON THE ICE, HE WILL NOT HESITATE TO FIND A PIE TO MEET YOUR FACE!  GNASH ( WITHE THE SABRE TEETH) MEET ADAM, SEASON TICKET HOLDER AND FAN EXTRAORDINAIRE:

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AND WHAT’S THAT THEY’RE HOLDING? THAT’S NO PIE, THAT OUR NHL LICENSED CHILDREN’S BOOK, NHL MASCOTS & FRIENDS. I’LL BE READING THIS LITTLE BOOK AT THE ALL-STAR FAN FEST EVERY DAY FROM THURSDAY TO SATURDAY NIGHT AT MUSIC CITY CENTER AS WELL AS ALL OF OUR THE HOME TEAM BOOKS. THERE’S ONE FOR NASHVILLE PREDATORS FANS TOO! COME MEET ME. I’D LOVE TO MEET YOU. BRING THE KIDS. CELEBRATE YOUR TEAM. IF YOU LIKE OUR STORIES, MAYBE BUY A BOOK :) SEE YOU THERE …

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Harvey Steals the Show

 

 

 

 

 

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MAYBE IT’S THE TONGUE? THERE IS DEFINITELY SOMETHING ABOUT….HARVEY.

HARVEY THE HOUND, THE FUN-LOVING MASCOT OF THE CALGARY FLAMES. I LOVED THAT HE STOPPED TO HAM IT UP BESIDE HIS IMAGE IN OUR BOOK, NHL MASCOTS & FRIENDS. WE TOOK LIBERTY WITH HIS TONGUE. ( IT’S HARD TO IGNORE :) IT’S WHAT YOU SEE FIRST, ISN’T IT? IT’S HOCKEY NIGHT IN CALGARY AT THE MAX BELL ARENA WHERE THOUSANDS, ELEVEN THOUSAND YOUNG HOCKEY PLAYERS ORGANIZERS SAY, COME TOGETHER FOR ESSO MINOR HOCKEY WEEK. THAT’S A SPECTACLE. WE WERE HAPPY TO BE THERE, TOO, THANKS TO HOCKEY CALGARY, SELLING OUR SERIES THE HOME TEAM CALGARY FLAMES AND OTHER TEAMS TOO! WE SIGNED BOOKS FOR CAEDEN AND GORD, BENNY AND ALI AND GILLIAN. FOR THE VANDERBURG FAMILY AND JAXON, WHO CHEERS FOR THE OILERS. SO DOES LUKE. STEPH BOUGHT A BOOK FOR HERSELF: GO HABS! THE FUN WAS MOSTLY ON THE ICE. ( OH AND IN RACING AROUND THE STANDS FOR THE LITTLE ONES THERE TO CHEER ON THEIR OLDER BROTHERS AND SISTERS, KIND OF.) AND THANK YOU HARVEY FOR HAVING TIME FOR EVERY ONE OF THEM….INCLUDING ME!

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Walter Cronkite led me here …

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So, I said to Walter Cronkite….well, who knows what I said when I met one of the world’s most famous journalists quite some time ago. I was a first year journalism student then with much to learn.

I hope I also listened. That would have been my best move. I graduated four years later and went on to a career in journalism myself. It was a perfect choice. And, in all of the years I anchored the news and wrote stories for tv and radio, was in front of the camera and the mic and then behind the scenes too, I hope I learned to listen. That’s where good information comes from – other people telling their stories.

Today, when I write for fans of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Boston Bruins or the USC Trojans, I hope I capture in my children’s books a story that isn’t unlike one they would tell themselves, one they’d tell me. What is it like to be a fan? Why do they do it?! Is a Grey Cup or a Stanley Cup worth cheering for if it’s so elusive? If it comes every few years or every few decades? Apparently, yes! That’s why there are thousands of you cheering for your special team, your home team. I would love to listen to you.

Here’s my invitation: write to me. Tell me about sharing your love of your team with the young fan in your family as you read, The HOME Team New York Rangers or The HOME Team Edmonton Oilers. And send pictures if you like. A picture really does say a thousand words. Let me hear from you and let me see you reading together.

holly@afanforlife.com

I promise to be a good listener :)

 

 

 

 

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Chicago Blackhawks vs Calgary Flames: Winner – kids!

The Chicago Blackhawks at the Calgary Flames was as exciting as it gets. Leslee and Lincoln were there!

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So were Danielle Chang and her son.

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Regardless who won ( the Flames’ Johnny Hockey in OT) these kids were already winners. They are novice players with Hockey Calgary and this fall, instead of sausages, or pizza, popcorn or raffle tickets or just having their parents throw more cash at the cost of hockey, the boys and their teammates sold The Home Team NHL children’s hockey books. And did they sell! 955 books later, half of those The HOME Team Calgary Flames ( of course :) and the rest all the other teams in the series. The fund raiser came with the NHL’s support on the condition the kids made a good profit. One manager says ” We raised enough money to get our kids practice jerseys and the kids and the coaches were pretty excited about that.” Me too! She adds,” This was definitely an easy sell.”

Thanks to Hockey Calgary – Lisa and Kevin – for believing this was a good idea, connecting young hockey players with a hockey story that encourages good sport values and the joy of reading.

Thanks to the Calgary Flames – for great prizes for the top selling kids and top selling teams,  including those tickets when the Blackhawks came to town.

Thanks team managers and parents who took this on! Who went to the doors in your neighbourhood to support each young player as they asked,” Would you like to buy a hockey book to support my team?”  To the customers who bought the books and mostly to the young players who sold them. You’re winners for raising this money for your team! Now, find a good hockey story to read and get a good sleep. Hardworking hockey players need their rest. Goodnight.

 

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Dads & Daughters

My Dad was a good, no better than good, athlete. The kind of athlete who could hit a badminton bird behind his back, between his legs, and get the point. He excelled at individual sports and he was a team player. He played on teams all his life: basketball and football.  In 1944 a university student newspaper wrote this about his football prowess and that of his two team mates ” … just about the smoothest, backfielders  on the campus – speedy, crushing and clever.”

And here he is, from that year:

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Dad loved sports and he passed that love onto me. We watched NHL hockey games together. That was Saturday night when I was a kid. And, he taught me everything about playing the game – any game – but often ones played with a racquet. He won championships for badminton and tennis. He was a good squash player. Hand/eye coordination? He had that nailed. Finesse? His name was all over it. Who would you want on your team to make that 8 foot putt to win the round? Dad.

This is where it starts for so many kids. A parent teaches us how to play. Before long, we  appreciate what it takes to excel. Soon, we find our way to cheer for a team of the greatest athletes among us – football, hockey, basketball, baseball. It doesn’t matter. It’s all the same. We embrace lifelong team loyalty. They’re our team. Even if they haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 1967. ( you know who I mean) we’re in their corner. We hope for wins. We swallow each loss. We are fans!

And, we pass that love of team to the next generation.  My small role in that is through my books; The HOME Team. For the Winnipeg Jets or the Chicago Blackhawks, the Montreal Canadians or your home team. For families in Brielle, New Jersey or Oak Lawn, Illinois or Thunder Bay, Ontario who bought The HOME Team NHL children’s book this week for their next young generation of fans, the beat goes on…..

Dad’s childhood friend put it this way: ” The nature of sports in general is to draw participants together. That’s the wonder of sport.” The world, right now, could use a little bit more wonder.

My Dad died a few weeks ago. While that changed a lot in my life, it didn’t change everything. You see, we’ll always be, on the same team.

 

 

 

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Putting Cancer in the Penalty Box

I love to hear from you. In a minute I’ll tell you a little story about an email I received yesterday from M in Montreal. He’d just bought a Chicago Blackhawks book for V, who is six years old. I don’t know where V lives or if he’s a nephew or what. I don’t think I’ll share their names. But I couldn’t be happier than to send him his new book.

It’s the simple things that make this job of creating children’s picture books for sports fans so rewarding. Selling to you through Shopify or Amazon provides a bonus I hadn’t considered. Here’s how it works:

You order a book ( thank you!) for the little fan in your life. (Though sometimes that’s a big fan – the dad or brother or colleague who is the BIGGEST Bruins fan ever!) Your email address comes to me along with your order so I email you back. Here’s what I write:

“Thank you for ordering my little Bruins book. I am the author and if you’d like me to write the name of anyone you are buying the book for inside the cover, I’d be happy to do that, just let me know.”

I never imagined how wonderful the responses from buyers would be. It connects me with them. We get to know each other. It gives me insight into who will soon have my little NHL or USC Trojans or Saskatchewan Roughriders book on their bedroom or family room shelf.  Read these and see: 

From Michael:

” Thank you for the kind offer. I think I would like to Abigail, Levi and Isaac. Enjoy your first USC Trojans football game.”

Brian wrote:

” That is very considerate of you! The book will be for my 2 year old daughter Juliana. She is going to love the book. We watch the Blackhawks all the time and every time she sees their logo she points and it and smiles.”

And from Beth:

“Wow! Thank you so much for the offer. This is a present from my nephew. He would love to see a note from the author … he loves reading and drawing and makes his own books for fun. His name is Josh.” 

Then, yesterday, an email reply from M : ” This is great. The book is for a little 6 year old boy named V who is battling cancer. If you can make the book out to him with a note of encouragement that would be much appreciated.” 

You bet I can do that. Honoured. I’ll suggest to V that we’re wishing that what’s making him feel sick is put in the penalty box …forever. 

And I’ll write, “I hope you enjoy The HOME Team Chicago Blackhawks. I bet you’re a great fan! I am sending you a copy of NHL Mascots & Friends too because these 27 NHL mascots are silly. They do crazy stuff that I think will make you laugh. And laughs are really, really good medicine. Enjoy hockey and get better soon.”

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It Takes a Team

 

It takes a team to play the game of hockey.

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To play the game of football …. teamwork.

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& to create sports picture books for children …likewise.

Our team doesn’t line up with 5 wearing the same team colour on the ice, plus the one they rely on in goal. Or 11 or 12 others on the field. No, we meet the narrowest definition of team: We’re 2.

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Holly Preston writes the stories. James Hearne draws. It’s a process that brings the best out in each of us. I recently read one of my books to a school class. I talked about team. Children always ask me, ” Did you draw the pictures?” I’m sure they ask because they are impressed with the illustrations., no surprise! My response, on this day, as always: “It takes a team to create a book, just like it does to play hockey or football. My part is to write. It’s great to have James on my team because I can’t draw.”  A little girl puts up her hand. “Everyone can draw, just in their own way,” she says. Hmmm. I acknowledge she’s right. Here’s my hockey player:

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Say no more. It takes a team.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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For the love of mascots

Kevin's #1 NHL Mascot

Kevin’s #1 NHL Mascot

I couldn’t have been happier about what I got yesterday. I had a great day talking hockey and selling my NHL children’s books to grandmas and grandpas and aunts and teachers. I was surrounded by creative artisans at Holiday Bazaart at the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina. A little boy named Kevin was there too, helping his family sell their fabulous leather goods at the table across from mine.  But a little boy can only sit among purses and wallets for so long. Kevin was drawn to the colourful images of hockey players in our The HOME Team series and then his eyes caught something else on the table: Mascots. All 27 NHL mascots performing their zany on-ice antics in the pages of  NHL Mascots & Friends.  And, Kevin? An artist, himself, he took in every one of them. Then, he found the one he liked best and proudly showed me: ” This is my favourite animal under the sea.” Or on the ice, as the case may be. But, it was time to back to work at the leather goods table.  This was a full day’s work: 9 – 5 with hundreds of folks browsing, chatting, buying. Somewhat more interesting, I am certain, to holiday shoppers than a budding young artist.

So, I grabbed my purple pen ( purple for Al the Octopus of the Detroit Red Wings and our theme colour for this book), wrote Kevin’s name inside and asked a family member if he could have it. Now, he could really check those mascots out! The show went on and later I turned to see Kevin in his little red checked shirt standing right beside me. He proudly held out a piece of paper torn, evidently, from a lined notebook, which he later told me he carries all the time so he can draw whenever he wants.

In return, for my mascot book I now have an original. An original Sharkie the Shark ( doing San Jose proud) which sits in my office where it will remind me of a great art show, a great day of sales and a lot of fun talking to families about their youngest hockey fans. And Kevin: Salesman and artist.

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THE BEGINNING

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There were so many of them in the stands: babies, toddlers, little kids, fully decked out wearing their green and white team colours, but mostly, wearing big smiles. They were at the game, many for the first time, and having the time of their lives!

Theirs was a story in waiting. I just had to write it! And so ALWAYS Books was born. It’s my way of welcoming these pint-sized fans to all the fun that comes with cheering for their favourite team. I know how that feels!

The ALWAYS Team, arrived in 2010, a great year for the team I grew up cheering for, The Saskatchewan Roughriders. Win or lose, I have never lost the thrill of being a fan. And now here all of these kids, in fine Rider tradition, learning to perch watermelons on their heads and asking “why?!” Having just as much fun – parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles as they pass on their lifelong team loyalty to the next generation.

Celebrating the home team is what sports fans do everywhere. ALWAYS Books is right in the middle of it all! Love of team. Love of reading. That’s what we’re all about.  Whether it’s sending a personalized book to an Amazon buyer in the name of a nephew or meeting new parents as they buy a book for the new fan at their house, there’s nothing I’d rather be doing.

Look at these brothers, fully engaged at a table of The HOME Team Chicago Blackhawks books. They had to be asked to look up at the camera! A picture says it all. And, no need to ask why I do this!

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