Review Blog

Jul 16 2012

Sugar and ice by Kate Messner

cover image

Walker, 2011. ISBN 978-0-8027-2330-7.
Recommended for readers aged 10 to 13 years. Sugar and ice refers to maple syrup collection and ice skating, two topics that most Australian readers would know very little about. Yet the themes in the story are universal, perseverance, self doubt, balancing commitments with a personal life, bullying and friendship.
Middle school aged Claire Boucher is passionate about ice skating, with most of her training occurring on a frozen cow pond on the family farm in Mojimuk. She helps her parents with the maple syrup collection and has a best friend she sees all the time. This all changes when she is offered a scholarship to train at Lake Placid. All her time is taken up by the rigorous training schedule and the travelling time to the rink. She loses touch with her friends and family and must adjust to the highly competitive sport of figure skating.
Claire has a lot to learn during her time at Lake Placid and not just about skating. She has to decide what's important in her life.
Claire is a believable character and it is very easy to be involved in her problems and successes. I know nothing about ice skating but was intrigued enough to look up some of her more troublesome moves on YouTube, i.e. a double salchow. An accomplished writer can successfully guide the reader into unknown worlds and experiences and Kate Messner did that for me.
Jane Moore

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