SKATEBOARDS

From the Made by Hand series

Part minibiography, part DIY guide, this engaging book chronicles the making of handmade skateboards by a lifelong aficionado.

“If you’ve got wheels under your feet, you can fly.” A skateboard—composed of three main parts: a deck, trucks, and wheels—promises fast movement. That’s certainly how Californian surfers thought of skateboards in the 1960s. Though no one can definitively pin the origins of these boards-on-wheels to any one location or time, Lakin notes that California seems like a probable birthplace for them, emphasizing the connection between surfing and skateboarding. After a brief history of the skateboard, readers meet Jake Eshelman, a white craftsman whose skateboarding adventures began during his childhood in Virginia. The book then explores Jake’s notion to make handmade skateboards from tossed-out strips of wood like maple, cherry, and walnut and the founding of his company, Side Project Skateboards. The author follows this snapshot with an extensive look at Jake’s weeklong process, which features plenty of up-close, bright photographs detailing each step. The tone of the narrative voice remains upbeat and energetic throughout, while the text, photos, and various figures appear on graph-paper backdrops, keeping everything clean and pleasant. Ultimately, it’s the boards themselves that appeal: a timeline at the end of the book offers a glimpse at a broader view of the skateboard—and the cool world it inspires.

Radical. (timeline, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4833-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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A charming read that demystifies the work of making a movie and celebrates the gifts of authentic friendship.

MARCUS MAKES A MOVIE

Marcus, obsessed with making comics, finds new ambitions for his superhero character Toothpick when he joins an after-school filmaking club.

Always-working comedian Hart enters the children’s-literature world with this middle-grade novel uplifting one of the profound life lessons that helped catapult him to global superstardom. It’s certainly not a biography, but one can see the shades of reality, with a young Black boy who’s short and funny making his way into film. Marcus’ gift for storytelling is nurtured by his love of making comics (represented visually throughout by Cooper). Readers come to understand how these creative acts help process stress and grief via striking conversations between Marcus and his loving father that also show the critical importance of developing emotional language. After an inspiring first day of film class, Marcus declares that he will make the most awesome movie ever—but there’s a gigantic difference between making comics and making a movie: You can’t make a movie alone. He’s going to have to work with peers who challenge him. Through Marcus’ experiences, young readers will learn about the many different concepts, tools, and techniques that are part of the behind-the-camera filmmaking endeavor. Unfortunately, lumping Toni Morrison in with William Shakespeare as just another “dead author” is a distasteful moment in an otherwise enjoyable read. The book adheres to a Black default.

A charming read that demystifies the work of making a movie and celebrates the gifts of authentic friendship. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-17914-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

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THE CROSSOVER

Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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