Within the sports mystery, Something’s Missing, three children unite to solve a mystery, but in addition, each one has a problem to solve. This is Chris’s problem:
A Snippet from Chapter Two:
Chris desperately wanted to do well his afternoon. He had assisted both his team’s goals in this final game, but he knew the coach would never say anything to him about his hard work. If only his dad were here – his dad would have been proud of those assists.
When Chris complained earlier in the year that the coach complimented only the boys who scored goals, his father shrugged. “So what,” he said. “You know when you’ve done well, and so do your teammates, and that’s what should make you feel good. It’s how you feel that’s important. Besides, I always tell you when you make a good play, don’t I?” But tonight, Chris’s father wouldn’t be there to tell him that he had played well, and Chris blinked back the sudden tears that came to his eyes.
Suddenly, all the players on the bench rose to their feet, and the crowd roared. A Pirate had poked a loose puck past the defense and was going in on a breakaway! Kieran came out a few feet from the net, making himself as big and threatening looking as a twelve-year-old goalie could look, and waited tensely for the shot. When it came, Kieran made a desperate lunge for the puck with his glove, but it flew past him and careened off the inside post. It was in the net.
The crowd screamed, the Vikings groaned, and Mr. Peters threw his cap disgustedly on the floor of the bench where it immediately began to soak up the dirty water. Chris, with other fresh teammates, stepped over the cap and out onto the ice, skating past the tired and discouraged boys crowding around the gate of the player’s bench waiting their turn to get in. He could hear Coach Peters angrily demanding to know why Marc hadn’t tripped that Pirate to prevent him from shooting and Chris knew the answer to that one. Their previous coach wouldn’t allow the boys to trip a player coming in on net to shoot. Tripping a player under those conditions was an insult to the goalie, the coach had explained.
“It’s like telling your goalie that you don’t believe he can stop the puck,” the coach reminded them from time to time. “Don’t ever trip a shooter.”
Marc was being blamed for doing what he had been taught was the right thing. Maybe he would quit playing hockey next year, too.
Chris skated over to Kieran who had just mournfully dug the puck out of the net for the referee. “Nice try, Kieran,” he said, giving the goalie a friendly tap with his stick. “That was a tough one.”
“I shoulda’ had it,” Kieran muttered.
“Yeah, and four other guys should have had it, too,” Chris answered, remembering what to say.
Kieran’s unhappy eyes met his and held for a moment. Then, he straightened up and tossed his head. “So, go get it back for us.”
Kids Love the Support of a Cheering-Section Parent
In a perfect world, parents, teachers, and coaches would be perfect, but part of the growing up process is learning that adults are very imperfect, and children have to learn how to function within an imperfect family, team, classroom, and world.
Many children come from one-parent families and don’t have very much support from that one busy parent when there are problems at school, with a team, or when participating in a particular activity. Even in two-parent families, a child may not have either parent involved for any number of different reasons: There’s a new job, a new illness, a new baby on the way or in the household, a parent is absent for long periods, there are family problems. For one reason or another, the child must cope on his own whether he likes it or not.
Why Reading About Kid’s Problems Helps Shape Attitudes
A parent who offers guidance about what happens on the playing field helps a child develop social skills and coping skills as well as athletic skills. Even when a parent is absent, the early parent-child relationship and influence can continue to have a positive impact on a child’s attitude. Children themselves often learn to recognize each other’s needs and many of them supply sympathy and support for each other, a service which eventually becomes more and more important to all of them.
All children face problems that they are forced to solve right here, right now, without parental advice, and reading about how children learn to manage these situations is useful to young readers. When children are interested in the outcome of a story, they are encouraged to read more. And we certainly want our children to read more.
Something’s Missing is for sale in paperback at this link to Amazon.com, or by clicking on this Amazon.ca link, and at Barnes and Noble, and independent bookstores. If your child enjoys e-book reading, watch for the Kindle version, coming soon.
Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Maureen Grenier and a clickable link back to this page.