by Roch Carrier, illustrated by Sheldon Cohen
ISBN 0-88776169-0. (French version also available.)
The Hockey Sweater is a well known bit of Canadiana. Published in 1980, in both English and French with the author having written it in both languages. It is a simple story about the author's childhood in Ste-Justine, Quebec. The story contains all sorts of stereotypical Canadian symbols, especially snow and Hockey, but the details of the story only make sense if you grew up in Canada.
In the story, the narrator describes his love of hockey and the obsession he and his friends have over Maurice Richard (a player for the Montreal Canadians, nicknamed The Rocket). He explains how he and all his friends had identical Canadians jersies with The Rocket's number emblazened upon. A hockey match is described as "six Maurice Richards facing six other Maurice Richards", and the Catholic priest as the referee.
The narrator's Maurice Richard jersey becomes old and his mother suggests he get a new one. She writes a letter (in French) to "Monsieur Eaton", the head of Eaton's department store, based in Toronto. (The narrator's mother does not fill in the Eaton's order forms as they are in English, which she does not understand).
After a long wait, the package arrives but the sweater inside is not a Canadians jersey, as requested, but a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey. This is a horrible, crushing event for the narrator as the two teams are rivals, and wearing the jersey outside would be equivalent to collecting Digimon toys while all your friends are into Pokémon - likely to get you rolled, that is. The mother refuses to send back the sweater, as it would be insulting to M. Eaton, he being a Torontonian.
Thus the narrator is forced to play hockey wearing the sweater, and he is shunned by his peers, and given undeserved penalties - by the priest, no less! He loses his temper and snaps his hockey stick on the ice. The priest tells him to go to church and pray for forgiveness from God for his anger. The narrator, however, prays instead for "a thousand moths to eat his Toronto Maple Leafs sweater".
Most people who know the story first saw not the book form, but the excellent animated film produced by Sheldon Cohen for the National Film Board of Canada. Images from the film were used as illustrations for the book.