Books·Canadian

Meet Willie O'Ree

A picture book by by Elizabeth MacLeod, illustrated by Mike Deas.

Elizabeth MacLeod, illustrated by Mike Deas

On January 18, 1958, Willie O'Ree made history as the first black player in the NHL when he suited up with the Boston Bruins against the Montreal Canadiens. O'Ree went on to play a total of 45 games with the Bruins, a remarkable achievement considering what he overcame to get there.

In addition to dealing with racism, bigotry and name-calling, Willie lived with a secret disability: he was blind in one eye — a fact he had to keep to himself, or he'd never play in the NHL. Thanks to his relentless positivity and love of the game, Willie's time with the Bruins was only one of his many achievements in hockey.

The Scholastic Canada Biography series aims to introduce young readers to remarkable Canadians whose lives and contributions have shaped our country and led the way for others to follow in their footsteps. Meet Willie O'Ree is no exception. This wonderful book is a celebration of his life from childhood to playing career, to his later work as an ambassador for NHL diversity, and to his eventual induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018.

Written by award-winning author Elizabeth MacLeod, this portrait of Willie O'Ree couples simple yet compelling writing with full-colour, comic-flavoured illustrations by Mike Deas that help bring this fascinating story to life! (From Scholastic Canada)

Elizabeth MacLeod is the author of numerous Canadian nonfiction titles including the Canada Close Up series titles Canadian GovernmentCanada's Trees and Canadian Money, in addition to the award-winning Scholastic Canada Biography series and Canada Year-By-Year, which won the 2017 Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children's Non-Fiction at the Canadian Children's Book Centre Awards. She is also the author of the forthcoming book Canadian Women Now and Then. She lives in Toronto.

Mike Deas is an author and illustrator of graphic novels, most recently Tank and Fizz. He is the illustrator of the Graphic Guide Adventure series. 

More about Willie O'Ree

On Jan. 18, 1958, O'Ree stepped onto the ice of the Montreal Forum as a member of the Boston Bruins, officially becoming the first black player in the NHL. 1:28
O'Ree, who became the first black player in the NHL in 1958, is now featured on a commemorative coin marking this year's Black History Month. O'Ree spoke to CBC's Adrian Harewood about overcoming adversity and why the game of hockey should be for everyone. 3:43
From Willie O'Ree to Angela James, from Donovan Bailey to Andre De Grasse, from being trailblazers in sport, to being champions of the world we celebrate Canadian Black Sporting Excellence. 2:27

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