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list price: $8.99
published: Sep 2012
imprint: Lorimer

Willie O'Ree

The story of the first black player in the NHL

by Nicole Mortillaro

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sports & recreation, hockey
0 of 5
0 ratings
list price: $8.99
published: Sep 2012
imprint: Lorimer

Willie O'Ree quietly made NHL history at the Montreal Forum on January 18, 1958, when he became the first black player to take to the ice. In the dressing room before the game, his Boston Bruins teammates told him not to worry. If any one of the Montreal players said anything to him, they'd have his back.

There was a round of applause when O'Ree stepped onto the ice, and newspapers ran the story. The colour barrier in the NHL had been broken, yet it would be sixteen years before the next black player, Mike Marson (also a Canadian), was drafted. Four decades later, the NHL pulled O'Ree out of retirement to honour his achievement and make him an ambassador for the NHL's "Hockey is for Everyone" program to encourage kids from all backgrounds to play hockey.

This new book by Nicole Mortillaro traces the early life of O'Ree in Fredericton, New Brunswick, his journey to the NHL, highlights from his hockey career, and his work encouraging diversity in the NHL.

[Fry reading level - 4.9

About the Author

Nicole Mortillaro

NICOLE MORTILLARO is a children's sports books author and editor. She is an avid hockey fan (Leafs, not Flyers!) and has edited several bestselling children's hockey books. Nicole lives north of Toronto with her daughter.
Author profile page >
Contributor Notes

NICOLE MORTILLARO is the author of several hockey books for children, including the Recordbooks Something to Prove and Jarome Iginla. She lives in Richmond Hill, Ontario.

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
12 to 18
7 to 12
Reading age:
12 to 18
  • Short-listed, 2013-14 Red Cedar (Non Fiction) Award
  • Commended, One of the Year's Best for 2013 -- Resource Links
  • Commended, Best Books for Kids & Teens Selection (Canadian Children's Book Centre)
Editorial Reviews

“[Mortillaro does paint clear pictures of the sport's history and significance, especially in Canada, as well as the racial hostility that O?Ree braved through much of his playing career.”

— Booklist

"Willie O'Ree is well-researched. [Mortillaro has made Willie O'Ree's story an engrossing one. Her writing style is easy to read and suitable for young readers." Highly Recommended.

— CM: Canadian Review of Materials

“[Mortillaro's touch is light and energetic, so that O?Ree's life story advances quickly... I would highly recommend this book for literacy collections, classroom libraries, and general libraries. It could also make a nice gift for young hockey fans” Rated E, excellent, enduring, everyone should see it!

— Resource Links

"This biography stands on its own as a well written life story of a man who had his fifteen minutes of fame but supplements the Willie O'Ree story with a running anecdote of racism in society and modern sports, physical impairment, the history of the development of the NHL, the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 60s. Willie O'Ree is a gem to be discovered."

— Canadian Teacher

"Willie O'Ree is an inspiring biography that tells how a brave young man was determined to realize his dream... If you are studying human rights or slavery this is a great account to share with your children. And if you have a child that is already interested in hockey this would be a wonderful tool to use to share history with them."

— Hammock Home School Blog

Featured as a "Book of Interest" in The Seniors' Advocate

— Seniors Advocate

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