TeachingBooks.net

Guest Blogger: Roch Carrier

TeachingBooks.net is delighted to welcome award-winning author Roch Carrier as our featured guest blogger.

Each month, we ask one distinguished author or illustrator to write an original post that reveals insights about their process and craft. Enjoy!

 

The Hockey Sweater”

by Roch Carrier


Photo courtesy of the author

Forty years ago, when I was a young writer, and enjoying some success with my first novel, La Guerre, Yes Sir! (Éditions du jour, 1968), I was invited to write a story for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). I wanted to write about the moment that I felt, for the very first time, that I was my own person—not my mother’s son, not my father’s son—but me, petit Roch. That moment occurred the day I put on my leg pads, my shoulder pads, my ice skates, and my Montréal Canadiens sweater. Suddenly, I was as tall as my mother and I had a hockey stick to fight with my big brother.

But another story came. The story I related for that broadcast was when, as a 10-year-old living in a very small village, I arrived at the skating rink wearing the jersey of our sworn enemies, the Toronto Maple Leafs. How did that happen? My mom had ordered a new hockey sweater from a catalog. What arrived? The jersey of our rivals.


Image from The Hockey Sweater (Tundra, 1984)

I wrote the story in French, my mother tongue, but it was translated into English. I read the story on the Canadian radio network and later learned that they received bags of letters about the story.

The Hockey Sweater played many times on the air and was printed in a collection of short stories. It was also made into a wonderful animated film by Sheldon Cohen, and then, by the same artist, an illustrated children’s book (Tundra 1984). There is even a quote from The Hockey Sweater on the Canadian five-dollar bill. In 2009, images from the International Space Station depicted the Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk reading the illustrated version of the book.


Image from The Hockey Sweater (Tundra, 1984)

In May and June of 2012, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra commissioned Abigail Richardson, a great Canadian composer, to write music for the story. I read The Hockey Sweater nervously to almost 40,000 children and their parents. The enterprise was highly successful; there will be more performances across Canada.

How did this all happen? I don’t know. As a writer, I would like to think that there was some magic in my words, but in the end, I know it just happened. My listeners and readers made it happen. Many thanks to all of them; they gave me so many opportunities to connect with people who had their own, often touching, stories to tell me—stories that also deserve to be told. While it’s not my habit to advise young writers, if I had to (under duress), perhaps I would say: Write as you speak—about what you know.

 

- An original article by Roch Carrier

This material may not be used without the express written consent of Roch Carrier. All images courtesy of Roch Carrier

More online resources about Roch Carrier:

Hear Roch Carrier share the pronunciation and story of his name. Listen now

Hear Roch Carrier introduce and read an excerpt from The Hockey Sweater. In English / In French

See all online resources for Roch Carrier.


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