I got my copies yesterday of The Home Team, just off the presses from Friesens' in Altona. This my latest children's picture book and is published by Always Books and commissioned by the Winnipeg Jets. I must say, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out... sure, I'm a bit biased, but there it is.
Working on The Home Team with author Holly Preston was great, and included a road trip to Canada's heartland. We spent a few mid-winter days in Winnipeg (February, to be precise), exploring sites that were to play a role in the story. We walked up and down the frozen rivers (the Red and the Assinboine), poking our heads into many of the weird and whimsical warming huts that dot the icepath.
The Forks, where the two rivers meet, was front and centre in the book where our junior Jets did a lot of their skating...
The MTS Centre on Portage Avenue was also on our list to visit-- since our junior Jets end up going to see the Jets in action, we had to check it out, too. In fact, Holly and I got to see the Colorado Avalanche play against our heroes.
We also cruised various areas of the city, looking for a neighbourhood that our characters could call home. My wonderful cousin Stefanie, a long-time Winnipegger (or is it "Winnipegonian"?), drove us around the south end of Winnipeg, outlining the characteristics of each neighbourhood -- Linden Woods, Waverley Heights, North Fort Garry, Assinboine Park (not necessarily in this order). We even came across one house with a skating rink right in the front yard, festooned with Jets' posters and banners, benches, official-looking ice markings, night lights. No sign of a zamboni... maybe it was in the garage.
The neighbourhood I eventually settled on as the backdrop is a mash-up of many of the areas Stefanie drove us through... I knew I wanted somewhere fairly central to downtown Winnipeg, with homes from the 1950s - '60s and lots of trees.
Without giving away too much of the plot, I include this scene below... a full-spread from inside MTS Centre, where one of the Jets flips a puck to our excited fans
Hope you enjoy The Home Team... and let's hope we get a hockey season this year!