The Xtreme World of Billy Kool (Books 3-8), by Phil Kettle

The director pointed to a map on the wall. There was a drawing of a plane at the top of the piece of paper, then little stick figures joined to parachutes falling. Even on a sheet of paper, it looked like a long way down. I caught Basher looking at it. He’d turned kind of pale. Come to think of it, I think I had too.

Life is pretty cool for Billy Kool. He entered a contest to win the chance to host a television show and now he and his two best friends Sally and Nathan are television stars. With their own extreme sports program, the trio get to experience snowboarding, skydiving, bungy jumping, rock climbing and more.

Each one of these books focusses on one extreme sport which, in turn, is the basis of one episode of the television show. Part of the story is told through first first person narrative from Billy’s point of view, while the rest is in the form of a television script. Each book also includes non-fiction compnents including a glossary, diagrams of equipment and an explanation of the sport and its history.

At just 54 pages each, these little books are very accessible to reluctant readers in middle and even upper primary, with the combination of reality television and extreme sports an attractive subject especially for male readers. Teachers will appreciate the varying text-types and non-fiction elements which make them suitable for classroom use. The books also subtly explore issues which confront all children such as popularity, friendship and family.

A clever concept.

The Xtreme World of Billy Kool: Bungy Jumping, Snowboarding, Skydiving, Mountain Biking, Kart Racing and Rock Climbing, all by Phil Kettle
Scholastic Australia, 2004