CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 13 . . . . February 16, 2007
Sharon Jennings’ Pump, one of High Interest Publishing’s latest slim volumes aimed at reluctant readers, is a plot-driven story about the tribulations of those who are stereotyped and the power of activism. Pat, a 12-year-old boy, loves to skateboard. However, Mrs. Harris, a whiny, hypocritical next-door neighbor, views all skateboarders as troublemakers and calls the cops every time Pat’s practicing on the street with his friends. Furthermore, Pat’s mother is afraid of his getting injured. A solution presents itself – the city is planning to build a skateboard park near Pat’s house, a place where Pat and his friends can practice without disturbing the neighborhood while staying safely off the streets. Of course, certain people, such as Mrs. Harris, are determined to stop the plans from being approved. Pat decides to rally his friends and his courage to speak out in support of the park, and he proves to the community that skateboarders aren’t the troublemakers they’re made out to be.
Overall, Pump is a good read for a reluctant reader. However, the inclusion of John, a wheelchair-ridden boy who wishes he could skateboard again, seems forced, and scenes with him are overly didactic. Unfortunately, too, the cover’s photographs clash with the graphic style illustrations found inside, and the boy on the cover seems much younger than Pat, a situation which could possibly deter potential readers from picking the book off the shelves. But the snappy pace and skateboard savvy language – terms like “goofyfoot,” “acid drop,” and “vert ramp” – are sure to appeal to sportive kids who may postpone a few kick flips to flip a few pages.
Kallie George is currently completing her Master of Arts in Children’s Literature at the University of British Columbia.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.