HAPPY THANKSGIVING with this bonus review!
Obviously not after reading this story about the world of competitive figure skating. I actually had a student once who was in this same situation. She was absent frequently and now I know why. If your dream is to skate competitively, it takes long hours of dedicated practice for both the technical and performing piece.
Twelve-year-old Kaitlin narrates her story as she adjusts to a new rink and coach after getting dumped by her previous one for an untimely outburst. She has the technical aspects of skating (jumps, spins etc) down for the most part , but Breaking the Ice also refers to her learning how to become a great performer. It’s about following your dream despite the roadblocks put in your way. Yes, you can reach your goals.
In the background you’ll find Dance Mom types watching and pushing their daughters making you wonder whose dream it is they are pursuing. There’s also caddie competitors and a cute boy that brings peer pressure into the story. The cover won’t attract many preteen boys who aren’t into this sport, but that’s okay, there are plenty of others who will love this charming coming of age story.
PUBLICATION DATE: 2015 WORD COUNT: 59,514 READING LEVEL: 4.1
FULL PLOT (From AMAZON) Figure skating is Kaitlin’s passion, but she lands on thin ice after a meltdown in this funny, touching story. Because when you fall down, you have to pick yourself up—even if it’s in front of judges and a crowd.
Kaitlin has always dreamed of being a champion figure skater, and she’s given up a lot to pursue her passion. But after she has a totally uncharacteristic tantrum at a major competition, she’s dropped by her coach and her prestigious skating club.
When no other club will have her, she’s forced to join the ridiculed and run-down Fallton Club, jokingly referred to as the “Fall Down Club.” At first Kaitlin thinks this is a complete disaster, but after meeting some of the other skaters—including a boy who happens to have the most perfect hair she’s ever seen—she realizes it might not actually be so bad.
Yet learning a whole new program right before regionals is a huge challenge, and when she realizes that all the other area skaters target Fallton for pranks, she begins to wonder if joining the Fall Down Club has any upsides.
FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT: BREAKING THE ICE by Gail Nall
- We have a book about a female sport! The shelves are filled with baseball, football, and soccer books with a male protagonist so this book is a pleasant addition.
- Its not just about figure skating. Peer pressure, learning from mistakes, fragile friendships, and goal setting make for a super undercurrent.
- Kaitlin has two supportive parents who are with her the entire ride. There’s no death, divorce, or dimwitedness (Probably not a word, but I needed one more “D”).
- Kaitlin makes a perfect main character. She’s sparkly in more ways than one and her problems will be familiar to many girls her age, even if they don’t skate.
- The coaches name is Greg. A perfect name for a coach. Actually the adults in the story from the coaches to the parents are not all one-dimensional. You often see more than one side to their personalities.
FAVORITE LINES: Saying a bunch of stupid words can’t completely tank my figure-skating career, right? But I know there are some things you just don’t say out loud in skating – at least not until you get home. It’s not like normal sports, where everyone screams insults at everyone else, and no one really cares.
AUTHOR QUOTE: (From Gail’s Author Website) I always wanted to write a skating book. I was watching the US Nationals at home, when I saw a skater receive really awful scores for her program. She and her coach put on pretend smiles, but you could see how devastated they both were. I’m sure that skater cried or yelled or something as soon as she was away from people. Then I wondered what would happen if a skater didn’t wait to let out how she really felt. What if she got upset right there in front of everyone? And that’s the premise of Breaking the Ice.
Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them. Just click on the Comments word above. You’ll find it right under the title of this post.
Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.