________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 16 . . . . April 4, 2008


Sk8er. (Sports Stories).

Steven Barwin.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2007.
128 pp., pbk. & hc., $8.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.).
ISBN 1-55028-985-5 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55028-983-1 (hc.).

Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.

Review by Libby McKeever.

*** /4


Jordy's old trucks began to spin. He picked up as much speed as he could before reaching the go/no-go point. He was going. He kicked the back of his board to get height - and he went airborne. Problem was his skateboard didn't. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw someone skateboard in front of him. He tried to land away from the person as he barrel-rolled out of control. His legs clipped the skateboarder as he went down.

Jordy got to his feet and saw a girl on the ground. She sat with her arms crossed over her knees.

Embarrassed and concerned, Jordy asked if she was okay.

She got to her feet and picked up her board. It had bright pink trucks and wheels, the bright colour making them stand out from under the black deck.

"I've been worse. You have to keep your head up."

"I know I'm sorry I just."

"No, you have to keep your head up."

"I said I was sorry."

She smiled. "I mean it's why you're not making the trick. She got on her skateboard and sped off.

He just started at her as she rode up a short ramp and spun around in the air, her hand holding the end of her board. Good tailgrab, he thought.


Jordy Lee loves skateboarding, and, despite his parents' disapproval, he spends every possible moment out with his friends cruising around the Kensington Market district in Toronto. Jordy's family owns a fruit and vegetable market, and, although Jordy doesn't have responsibilities in the busy store, he is expected to look after his younger brother in the evenings. He feels very detached from his much-younger brother and resents this duty, barely engaging with him when they are together.

     Out on the street, Jordy feels at home. He and his friends encourage each other and push themselves to perform more difficult tricks. Their territory is limited to the area around the busy market until the much anticipated new skateboard park is finished construction. After reading about a competition that is planned as part of the park's opening week celebrations, the boys all dream of winning the prize money and buying new skate gear. Jordy feels his dilapidated board is holding back from being a great skater, and so he sets his sights on winning.

     Murph, Jordy's best friend, is often the brunt of the others' jokes, and he looks to Jordy for support. After Jordy literally bumps into Alisha at the new park, she offers to help him with his riding, and so he starts spending time with her. Confused by new feelings for Alisha and being loyal to his friend Murph, Jordy handles the situation badly and effectively drops his old buddies.  Murph is especially is confused and hurt by Jordy's actions.

     This coming of age story touches on the difficulties that young people can have when forming new relationships and responding to the changing behaviour of their friends. Barwin has used the backdrop of kids who love to skateboard in inner city Toronto to highlight the issue of changing friendships and the subsequent wrestling of shifting loyalties between friends and family. Readers will be able to relate to Jordy's struggles. They will cheer his successes and be content with the satisfying conclusion. Although the issue of first crushes may be enjoyed by a slightly older audience, the cover illustration and spelling of the title are not ones that would attract an older reader.

     Steven Barwin previous "Sports Stories" novels, Slam Dunk and Roller Hockey Blues, both were Canadian Children's Book Centre Our Choice selections. Barwin has also written for television shows such as Royal Canadian Air Farce and Street Cents as well as for the NASCAR and World Wrestling DVD board games.


Libby McKeever is a library technician who works at the Whistler Public Library and Whistler Secondary School in Whistler, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364
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