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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Clean Sweep: Frank Zamboni's Ice Machine, written by Monica Kulling and illustrated by Renne Benoit. Tundra Books, Random House. 2016. $19.99 ages 8 and up

"The first step was to make the surface of the ice level. A tractor dragged a planer that shaved down the pits and grooves. The crew then shoveled away the shavings, washed the surface, and sprayed on a layer of fresh water. Finally, they dragged a barrel of hot water around the rink to give the ice its gleaming finish."

I remember waiting for what seemed an endless time when I was a kid who loved skating. We would watch the workers come out and do all they could do to make the rink smoother for us as we spent afternoons skating at the community center and at the old Wheat City Arena. It was hard to be patient!

In this welcome addition to the Great Idea series, Monica Kulling tells her young audience about a man who loved to be around machinery for his whole life. He helped keep the trucks and tractors running on the family farm in Utah, and then used those skills when he moved to California to work with his older brother George in his auto repair shop. The money he and his brother Lawrence earned was enough to send Frank to trade school.

Upon graduation, the two brothers opened their own company, doing all types of work to help others. Adding an ice plant meant new customers and set Frank on a path to building a skating rink. All they needed to know for it to be successful was ice-making.

Always looking for a better way to cut down the time needed to resurface the ice, Frank worked for nine years to refine the machine that is known to all hockey fans and players today as the Zamboni.
Reading this book assures that you know the 'rest of the story', and Frank's place in history as an inventor of the iconic machine that is a staple in all ice hockey arenas today. The artwork, done by Renne Benoit in watercolors and colored pencils, is detailed and engaging. They share a real sense of the time in which the Zambonis lived and worked.

 A set of fun facts follows the text, including these:
  • The machine can remove up to 60 cubic feet of ice in one pass. That's enough shavings to make 3, 661 snow cones!
  • At the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, there were 20 Zamboni machines standing by to resurface the many ice rinks.

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