________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 14 . . . . December 4, 2009


Extreme Snowmobiling.

Blaine Wiseman.
New York, NY: Weigl (Distributed in Canada by Saunders Book Co.), 2010.
32 pp., pbk. & hc., $10.95 (pbk.), $22.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-60596-135-4 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-60596-134-7.

Subject Heading:
Snowmobiling-Juvenile literature .

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

** /4


Snowmobiling is a sport that requires skill, strength, and courage. Snowmobilers race across the snow on a fast, heavy machine called a snowmobile. Snowmobiles can travel at speeds faster than 100 miles (160 kilometers) per hour. A track or tread at the back of the snowmobile pushes the vehicle to move, and a pair of skis at the front steer through the snow. To turn, the snowmobiler shifts the handlebars and leans from side to side, just like riding a bike.


When I was an adolescent, lo those many decades ago, the only thing I really had to look forward to driving was the family car. Today's teens have numerous other wheeled and tracked vehicles they can "pilot" on land or over water, snow and ice. Among their choices now is the snowmobile, the vehicle that has essentially replaced sled dogs as the principal mode of winter travel in snow covered areas not serviced by all-season roads. As has often been the case with other modes of transportation, what began as a practical vehicle has become transformed into something that also serves a recreational function. Extreme Snowmobiling focuses on one of the snowmobile's more radical "fun" applications.

     Most of the contents of Extreme Snowmobiling are contained in 13 double page spreads. Wiseman opens with a brief history of the X Games which began in 1995 and were initially known as the Extreme Games and that were held just in the summer. However, two years later, the Winter X Games were introduced. "What is Snowmobiling?" succinctly explains the development of the snowmobile, from its functional origins in 1908, through it recreational transformation in the 1950's and its addition to the Winter X Games in 1998. The "All the Right Equipment" pair of pages are a bit thin on specifics. Wiseman, for instance, states, "There are many different types of snowmobiles. Some are designed for racing, while others are made for performing jumps and tricks." Despite the book's being generously illustrated with full-colour photographs, there are none showing these different snowmobile types nor does Wiseman's text offer any further explanatory detail. The equipment worn by snowmobile drivers is also sparsely described and illustrated. "Surveying the Venue" differentiates between the natural spaces used for recreational snowmobiling and the manmade courses that are specifically created for competitive events like the X Games. "Snowmobile Freestyle" describes this particular event, one involving jumps and tricks, which was added to the X games in 2007. "Snocross" focuses on the oldest snowmobiling event in the Winter X Games. The only important factor in Snocross is speed as a dozen racers complete 15 laps around a racecourse. "Speed & Style" was a new event that was added to the Winter X Games in 2008, and it combines the tricks of the Freestyle event with the speed of Snocross. The "Snowmobile Freestyle," "Snocross" and "Speed & Style" sections also list their respective medal winners for the 2008 and 2009 X Games. If young readers really want to get any real tips on how to qualify for the X Games, they will be disappointed by the content of "Qualifying to Compete" as its information remains at the level of almost trite generalities. The section, "Similar Sports," briefly describes "several other sports that are similar to snowmobiling." The four sports, motocross, dogsledding, bobsledding and jet skiing. Given the content gaps previously identified, these two pages could have been better utilized as could the two given over "Around the World" which consists of a map of the world on which are located six locales for excellent recreational snowmobiling. "Unforgettable Moments" deals with the 2009 introduction of a new event, the Next Trick competition in which "the riders fly through the air after launching off a huge jump. Each rider tries to outdo the others by landing a bigger, better trick." "Current Stats" and "Legends" highlight a total of eight present and past stars of the support. Oddly, the descriptions of only three of the eight featured men are accompanied by their photos. "The 10 Question Quiz," which calls for readers to recall information previously mentioned in the book's contents, also provides an answer key. The suggestions on the "Research" page regarding how to do an Internet library search are too basic to be practically useful. Extreme Snowmobiling closes with a page containing a 10 item glossary of words that had been bolded in the text, plus a 17 item index.

     Recognizing that his slim volume can't provide all the necessary information, Wiseman provides three "Technolinks" to websites where readers can access more details on related topics. According to information on the copyright page, "All of the internet URLs given in the book were valid at the time of publication." As of the writing of this review in November 2009, the URLs were all still functional.

     Although Extreme Snowmobiling is attractively and colorfully designed, with numerous action photographs, its informational content is quite limited. A possible purchase for reluctant readers.

Recommended with reservations.

Dave Jenkinson, CM's editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB.

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

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