Sugar and Ice
Twelve-year-old Claire Boucher loves to ice skate. Whether she is skating on the cow pond on her family’s maple sugar farm or at the Northern Lights rink in her hometown of Mojimuk Falls, New York, she loves feeling the cool air blowing on her face and the freedom of flying over the ice.
When Claire performs at her hometown’s annual figure skating exposition during Maple Weekend, she is “discovered” by world-class Russian skater, Andrei Groschev. Impressed with her skills, he offers her a Silver Blades Scholarship to coach her at The Olympic Center in Lake Placid, an hour from her home.
She is flabbergasted by this offer, and though she knows she is a good skater, she does not believe she is good enough to receive this honor. In addition, she is concerned how this will affect her family. Her Border Officer dad, and mom, who makes maple syrup from their farm’s trees, do not have the finances to cover other expenses involved with this offer. Claire knows the travel and incidentals needed are expensive, but her parents are overjoyed and are willing to make any sacrifice necessary.
Thrilled with her new venture, Claire feels like a fish out of water when she first begins training. She is a big fish in her own pond, but seeing that the others in the program are also very talented, she worries that she cannot cut it. Enduring rigorous training, juggling schoolwork, losing sleep and even the relationship with her best friend, Natalie, Claire soon proves she can handle it.
Butterflies erupt when Claire is faced with her first competition, fearing she will make a fool of herself. Meanwhile, three girls in their group of eight trainees are nasty and aloof to her, and someone is sabotaging her by doing everything necessary to thwart her success. Claire cannot believe that a sport she finds so exciting and enjoyable could be so cutthroat. Will she be able to ignore the actions of those who want to see her fail or will she crumble under their interference?
Though skating takes up the majority of Claire's time, she does manage to find pleasure in her class work. She especially loves math, and completes extensive research on Fibonacci numbers, an exciting concept with which she is able to include certain aspects of her skating into her report.
A big competition held in Buffalo finds Claire the winner of a silver medal and her scholarship is extended. However, she has a tough decision to make. Should she continue her training, even if it means giving up a big part of her life, or should she return to her old life with her friends, schoolwork, and other activities?
Ms. Messner has introduced figure skating to her young readers, but added other concepts as well, such as a different mathematical concept and beekeeping, a hobby of Claire’s friend, Natalie. It is evident the author has done considerable research into different topics, making this tale multidimensional and sure to keep the young reader involved.