Stick Dudes are four friends: Ben Milano; Martin Tang; Johnny Johns and Michael Tubble. They are mostly ten years old, or close to it. Their life is chock-a-block full of adventure. In Champions of the World all the friends catch World Cup Fever. They have a chance to meet a soccer hero, but only if they can win a game of soccer against their arch-enemy, bully Meeval.
In The Secret Four-ce the four decide to form their own secret spy network when treasures begin disappearing from the school. First it’s a book, then football cards. There seems to be no pattern and their initial suspects all prove to be in the clear. The Secret Four-ce is undaunted, even when it seems that the teachers could be suspects as well.
Stick Dudes are illustrated with stick figures also drawn by Felice Arena. There are illustrations on almost every page and each book provides frames at the end for readers to add their own stick dude stories.
Stick dudes are wild. They jump to conclusions, mete out their own justice and generally cause mayhem. There are boys in every school just like them, full of energy and enthusiasm, impossible to contain. They are aimed at mid-primary boys, particularly those who struggle to sit still long enough to read a novel (even the book stolen from Marty in The Secret Four-ce is a adventure one borrowed from his uncle and valued mostly for its extrinsic signed worth). They are also loyal and open and quick to help each other. Each title contains a complete adventure, with the problem identified very quickly. Each story positively zooms along, twisting and turning like a boy on a skateboard. The characters are introduced at the front of each book, and although the stories are told in first person by Ben, one of the main characters, all the others have equal time in the sun. Recommended for mid-primary readers, particularly reluctant ones.
Champions of the World (Stick Dudes), Felice Arena
The Secret Four-ce (Stick Dudes), Felice Arena
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author