Extreme! by J. A. Mawter

‘Now there’s a girl with a death wish.’
Mio watched the girl skateboard down some handrails, nailing the landing but carving close enough to fog up a metal pole. Straightening, and with a push-push of her foot, she popped into the air, the skateboard somehow stuck to her feet, before flipping and spinning, only to drop to a crouched landing before rolling away.
Mio smiled as she spotted the sign attached to the pole. The ‘N’ had been whitened out and texta-ed over so that the NO SKATEBOARDING now read GO SKATEBOARDING. She pointed out the sign to her friend Clem saying. ‘Those skateboarders don’t miss a trick.’

Mio and her friends, Clem, Bryce, Tong and Darcy, are mad keen BMX riders. They are excited that the council is constructing a BMX/skate park, until they find there’s been a change in plans. The council have decided that it’s too dangerous to have the bikers and skaters together and the park will now be just for the skaters. They are all furious, but Mio is the most determined to do something about it. They meet with their friend, Mr Lark to plan a course of action. Mio borrows Mr Lark’s Vietnam War dog tags for a school project and things begin to go wrong, especially for her. Each attempt she makes to sort things out just lands her in more trouble, until even her closest friends seem keen to distance themselves.

Extreme! is a rocketing ride from start to finish. It is full of BMX stunts, described in detail. The reader has plenty of opportunities to experience the similarities and differences between BMX riding and skateboarding. The thrills and the spills. There are chase scenes worthy of any action movie. Extreme is told from the omniscient point of view with characters from Japanese, Vietnamese, Jewish and Anglo backgrounds. In Mio, for example, Japanese reticence fights with an Australian forthrightness. Tong struggles with English, but also with some Australian concepts. The relationship the children have with Mr Lark is an anchor for them all, particularly when other adults appear to be being unreasonable. Themes include justice, cultural identity, friendship, identity theft, cooperation and safety.

Recommended for upper primary-early secondary readers.

Extreme!, by J A Mawter
Harper Collins
ISBN: 9780732285319

Launched, by J. A. Mawter

Five riders stood astride their bikes. The late afternoon sun bounced off helmets and handle bars and bells and reflectors, giving the group an eerie luminescent glow. They were an odd assortment of kids, drawn together by their love of riding, especially stunt riding.

In this, the second instalment in the Freewheelers series, the Freewheelers decide to enter a local bike trials competition. They’ll need to do some serious practice to get ready, but when they find the ideal training ground they soon find that they have unwelcome company.

There are strange things happening. There is graffiti appearing in their favourite places – and it’s not just any graffiti. Bryce, one of the Freewheelers, used to be in a graffiti gang, and his tag is being used. The other Freewheelers are worried that Bryce has gone back to his old ways. Then, when Tong’s bike is stolen, Bryce again falls under suspicion. Can Bryce remain a freewheeler? And what can he do to clear his name?

Although part of a series, this offering stands alone, too, so that readers new to the series are not disadvantaged. With a mix of boy and girl characters, from different racial and family backgrounds, this is a series designed to appeal to readers of both sexes. There is plenty of bike action, a mystery to be solved, and issues including loyalty, graffiti and homeless kids.

Likely to be lapped up by readers aged 10 to 12.

Freewheelers: Launched, by J.A. Mawter
Angus & Robertson, an imprint of Harper Collins, 2007

The Freewheelers – Unleashed!by J.A. Mawter

Reviewed by Dale Harcombe

This book is the first of a new series and reminiscent of the Secret Seven and Famous Five books many of us remember from childhood. The difference is this is a group of smart, multicultural kids from varied family situations in Australia. In the four friends, who make up the Freewheelers, two are male, two female and two are twins. They hang out together, spending a lot of their time doing tricks on their bicycles or just hanging out at their hideout.

When the group consisting of Bryce, Mio, Clem and Darcy, see a beagle being mistreated they attempt to rescue it but the beagle disappears. Then other dogs go missing. What is going on? The Freewheelers are determined to find out.

These high spirited twins and their friends come across as real, believable children in an urban setting. They are children who love mystery, games and adventure. Each character is distinctly drawn with interesting characteristics, like Bryce who has a song to fit every occasion. The writing is full of action and excitement that will quickly draw readers in not only to this book but will have readers around the 9-12 age group waiting eagerly for others in the series to come out. A great read.

The Freewheelers – Unleashed!by J.A. Mawter
HarperCollins, 2006 Paperback RRP $14.95

So Stinky! by J.A. Mawter

Something warm is trickling down my back. I can feel the hotness of it against my wind-cooled skin, almost burning. It starts at my neck and slowly, slowly meanders down. I want to deck him! Him is Felix, my kid brother. The liquid cools as it trickles down. My face burns.

Having your baby brother wee down your back is not nice. At all. But when he wees down your back when you’re talking to the coolest chick in your class it is simply unbearable. It seems that things can’t get any worse – but Jake soon discovers that they can, when he is stuck babysitting his incontinent brother during the school holidays.

One Flakey Fountain is one of the four silly stories which make up So Stinky, the sixth book in the So seris from the comic team of author J.A. Mawter and illustrator Gus Gordon. Other stories involve dinosaur dung, goat poo and a collection of human teeth.

Primary school children love gross stories, and So Stinky is sure to appeal to kids aged 8 to 12. There are plenty of smells, stinks, pongs and whiffs, along with some action and loads of laughs.

The cartoon-style illustrations on every page provide an extra facet, as do the three poems which come in between the stories.

So Stinky is a fun package.

So Stinky!, by J.A. Mawter, illustrated by Gus Gordon
Angus & Robertson, an imprint of Harper Collins, 2005

So Sick! by J.A. Mawter

Have you ever wondered what it might feel like to wear jellyfish undies? Or seaweed undies? Have you ever been so worried about taking off your shoes that you miss the chance to win tickets to the movies? Do you know what Pee Pee Poo tastes like? And what’s the connection between spelling and smelling?

This is J A Mawter’s third collection of stories in the ‘So…’ series. So Sick!, from HarperCollins, is full of itching undies, smelly, scabby feet, chook poo and a shocking case of BO. By the end of the fourth story, the reader will also know the latin name for the common snail, meet the bug that eats bacteria and learn more than one way to spell a flower!

A perfect mix of humour and horribleness, these four stories are sure to appeal. For 8-12 year olds (especially boys).

So Sick!, by J. A. Mawter
HarperCollins, 2003