Griffin Tardiff is still suffering from a serious hockey injury at the start of a new year in a new school. But he's in luck. For his community credit, he'll be working with the sports guy at the loca
Griffin Tardiff is still suffering from a serious hockey injury at the start of a new year in a new school. But he's in luck. For his community credit, he'll be working with the sports guy at the local radio station, which could be the start of a career. He also meets Noah, a young kid from the neighbourhood who also likes hockey.
Unfortunately, his mentor at the radio station turns out to be less than reliable—and Noah has fears he needs Griffin to help him resolve. Add to this a self-absorbed girlfriend and life in Glenavon turns out to be more complicated than any guy needs.
View Biographical note
Jean Mills grew up in Toronto and went to Queen's University and earned two degrees in English (BA, MA), with a specialization in Medieval and Old Norse literature. Her first job was writing promotional blurbs for CTV Television and while there, started to focus on writing stories for children. She is the author of Skating on Thin Ice, Larkin on the Shore and The Legend. Larkin on the Shore won the 2020 Whippoorwill Award honoring "young adult literature that sings the authentic stories of rural people and places."
Jean spends her winters in Guelph, Ontario and the rest of the time in Pugwash, Nova Scotia.
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"Griffin Tardiff enters 11th grade in a new school with a shoulder healing from a devastating collision in a hockey playoff game, his last time on the ice.
"Narrator Griffin is self-possessed and articulate, with parents who love and support him; he's a young man prepared to face the challenges that come with relocating due to his father's job. A community service internship pairs him with the local radio station, where a nationally known hockey broadcaster got his start. Though he misses his girlfriend, Blair, and his old team in Ottawa, Griffin gets to cover a bit of all things hockey for the station's broadcast and do their social media. It helps that the hockey jocks in his new school immediately befriend him. Among the all-White cast, no one seems more than merely humanly flawed. The station's sports director has some issues, and Griffin is aware of the shallower behavior of some of his peers, but he steers his own course. He's got the kind of self-confidence and emotional intelligence that allows him to navigate the internship and new school with ease, find success in his first attempts at covering hockey as a member of the press, share his hockey expertise with a classmate's little brother, recognize the privilege he has as someone whose family could afford his hockey participation, and gracefully decide what to do about his relationship with Blair. The challenges are low key, and Griffin's likability is certain. Agreeably entertaining."
— Kirkus Reviews
"Jean Mills gives her readers an outstanding main character in The Legend. . . Griffin seems to have it all, and readers will be delighted to experience life with him within this book. . . Hockey enthusiasts will enjoy this book as Mills has insights not only into the sport but into the psyche of players and coaches and the way sports teams work. Other young adult readers will relate to the emotions faced by Griff and the other teens. Mills understands teenagers and provides characters that are true-to-life and interesting. And there is just a touch of romance and just a touch of intrigue added to the plot — enough to ensure readers are engaged from beginning to end.
"In 2018, I gave Mills' novel Skating Over Thin Ice an excellent rating, and, if anything, she has only improved since then. The Legend is a top-notch young adult book from a prize-winning author.
— CM Magazine
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"Everything about this novel rings true, and the lessons are wonderfully subtle. Kudos to Jean Mills for creating a story that allows the characters to control the message. The hockey action will resonate with all sports readers, and the characters with all readers. A book for everyone!"
— Lorna Schultz Nicholson, critically acclaimed author of the One-to-One YA series
"Jean Mills scores again with The Legend a wonderful follow-up to Skating Over Thin Ice. Definitely a winning read!"
— Chris Cuthbert, Sportsnet/Hockey Night in Canada
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On the Canadian Children's Book Centre's Best Books For Kids And Teens 2022 list
View Author comments
The Legend follows Griffin Tardiff, an injured teen hockey player, exiled for a year to a small town near Ottawa, whose life is complicated by an internship at a local radio station, a flawed adult mentor, two quite different girls, and a little boy who needs Griffin's protection. I have a life-long love of hockey, and sport in general, so I was interested in writing about the challenges faced by a young athlete like Griffin, who is forced to switch his focus after an injury.
The community radio scenario was inspired by two experiences: my years as a student broadcaster at CFRC Queen's Radio (I was the Sports Director!) and my ten years on the Media and Communications team at Curling Canada, where I travelled to national and international championships to report from the press box alongside newspaper and broadcast media. It was fun to draw on my own adventures for the story — post-game scrums, for instance (I hated them!).
My writing process is all about seeing the beginning and, especially, the end of the story, and then envisioning random scenes — Griffin's press box adventure, the two girls in Griffin's life meeting at the mall, the road trip with the hockey team. After that, I just write until the scenes all fit together.
The Legend will appeal to readers 12 - 16. It's a story that blends features of the Toronto Maple Leafs Next Gen hockey broadcast with gentler elements reminiscent of Power Play by Eric Walters.