Matt Christopher is the best selling name behind more than 100 sports-themed books for young readers.
Gr 5-7-Narrator Ramon de Ocampo does a fine job bringing to life this lively celebration of skateboarding superstar Tony Hawk and his misunderstood sport. Credited to the late Matt Christopher but written by Glenn Stout, On the Halfpipe-with Tony Hawk shows how Hawk changed the history of skateboarding. The narrator's clear, understated delivery serves the text well. He doesn't try to sound too "hip," and reads the story with respect and even a certain degree of awe. This approach works especially well in the book's final chapter, a thrilling recap of Hawk's attempts to master a near-impossible move called the 900. Thanks to some exciting writing in this section, de Ocampo helps listeners experience what it must feel like to try this mid-air maneuver. Nothing else in the book matches this passage, but what remains entertains. The first two chapters explore the evolution of skateboarding from a fad that borrowed elements of surfing and rollerskating to the successful industry that it is today. Hawk was not interviewed for this book; the author relies on outside sources to paint a portrait of the skateboarding champ. Listeners learn about Hawk's childhood and his introduction to the sport. Although the book is mostly upbeat, chronicling Hawk's many successes, it doesn't shy away from some of his personal hardships (losing his father, getting a divorce, falling out of favor with the younger skateboarding crowd). Ultimately though, it shows the star landing on his feet and emerging as a successful role model who shatters the stereotype that skateboarders are socially irresponsible misfits. Young skateboarding enthusiasts will enjoy this title.-Brian E. Wilson, Evanston Public Library, IL Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.