Friday, September 24

Maddie Takes the Ice

Maddie Takes the Ice is a short novel geared towards children aged 8 to 12. The author, Nicolette House, is a former international and World-level ice dance competitor, having skated with partner Aidas Reklys for Lithuania. On top of Nicolette having ties back to my current city of Columbus, books that deal with figure skating are sparse lately, so I was excited to give it a read!

First, here is the description from the inside panel of the book:
Madison Albright is one of the most confident skaters at the Arctic Circle Figure Skating Club, but the pressure builds as she prepares for the regional championships. A jealous skater is prepared to do whatever it takes to knock Madison from the competition and an old friend turns against her just when she needs her the most. Strangers and classmates alike suddenly make her the center of attention. Her stern coach seems incapable of understanding her worries. Her best friend is preoccupied with boy problems. At home, her family expects a big win. In the final days before the event, her confidence begins to unravel and she struggles to succeed in spite of the stress and strain that is competitive figure skating. Come along for the unforgettable journey as Maddie Takes the Ice.
I think this is a great read not only for fans of figure skating, but for any children that have to deal with pressures through sports in general, or really any other outlet. Madison is the skater that dominates all of the practice sessions and is touted as the next star, but the second her talent starts getting noticed, she begins to doubt herself. There are pressures from other skaters (including mentions of weight management), pressures from her coach, and expectations from her family and other people who know what she is capable of doing.

Madison competes at the regional championships, which serve as the qualifier to the Junior National Championships. Expected to easily qualify, she skates the two worst programs of her life and is not able to explain what happened or why all of these doubts started to creep in at the most important time. She misses Nationals by one placement, but another skater was dealing with injury and ended up withdrawing, leaving the spot open for Madison to compete. I won't reveal the rest of the story, but things end up taking a turn for the (much) better after that bit of luck.

As someone who has skated in freestyle sessions with skaters less than half of my age (and mind you, I am only 24), I can say that I definitely see pressures being put upon these kids that are just unbelievable. Sometimes it comes from the parent that thinks they know everything, sometimes it comes from the coach that doesn't understand that not everyone deals with pressures the same way, and sometimes it just comes from their own self doubt and lack of confidence. I think that Nicolette has really captured the feelings and nerves that many young athletes go through when it is their time to "shine", and it truly is a great read for everyone, regardless of age.


Anonymous said...

Awww that story seems so sweet. Might be a good thing for skaters to read leading up to regionals.

Are you in a big competitive skating area? The catty side of me would love to read posts about parents you see who are a nightmare. But it would be nice to also read about skating parent who are good at being skating parents. There must be a good balance somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review - sounds like a good book!

As it happens I've got a figure skating-book coming up myself on my reading list - though this is a much older book: "White Boots" by Noel Streatfeild. Not only is this - as far as I can recollect - the only such book I have; I don't think I've ever read any other either... Figure skating-books (fiction) are rather thin on the ground, are they not?


Ilona House said...

Tony, Thank you for the positive review.The book was really written for the competitive athlete and we are seeing that it is starting to reach that reader. It is available at