#439 – Above (Tony Hawk: Live 2 Skate) by Brandon Terrell

Above Tony Hawk Live Skate 2Above (Tony Hawk: Live2Skate)

by Brandon Terrell

Fernando Cano & Joe Azpeytia, illustrators

Stone Arch Books

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Publisher Website:  Skater Nate Kreece is known for his movie-making skills. So when he loses his computer with all his footage in a fire, he is devastated. But giving up is not an option. Armed with his camera, Nate is set to rise above it all to accomplish more than he could have dreamed.

Opening

“Yo, man! Get your camera and let’s get moving. We’re late.”

“Hold up, Jason. Just gimme a second to finish this.”

.     Fifteen-year-old Nate Kreece sat hunched over the small desk in the corner of is cluttered bedroom, staring at his laptop screen.

About the Story:  After Nate Kreece’s inner city Chicago apartment building burns to the ground, he and his mom move to the suburbs. An enthusiast, Nate films his skateboarding friends and then edits the film on his laptop, making awesome five and ten-minute spotlight films. Now living with his cousin Grant, Nate feels lost until Grant takes him to Infinity Skateboarding Park. Grant then shows Nate how to upload his films to the same skateboarding website Nate uses to learn how to edit. A new business is born when local skateboarders want Nate to make films for them. All is good until Nate and Grant lie about where they are going, and then are arrested for trespassing, all to get the “right shot.” Being arrested by police could be worse than the fire.

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What I Thought:   Above. Six pages into the story I was ready to stop reading. Too much slang I do not understand was making the story a difficult read. Sometimes—just sometimes—it is good to be a reviewer, because if not, I would not have continued reading to a conclusion that had me wanting to read book 2. I like the story. The dialogue is great. The characters are terrific and relatable—more so for skateboarders. And the plot ups and downs took me on a wild ride.

Nate is older than middle grade kids are, but he is a great kid. His biggest crime is staying out late, but only when his mother works, so he can get night videos of his friends skating. With a helmet cam, Nate can film himself. He uses a popular video skateboarding site to self-learn editing, but does not upload his finished films. Grant, the cousin Nate barely knows, shows him how to upload and the power of his videos is gives Nate a lot of attention. It also helps Nate recover from the devastating fire.

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At the skate park, kids want to hire Nate to make spotlight films to show prospective sponsors. I like how Nate learns how to do one thing well and then is rewarded for this skill. Nate is proud he can help get him and his mom back into their own home. I like how responsible Nate is becoming and I think he is a good role model for kids.

I was surprised the author chose to have Nate arrested as one of the conflicts. I do not know the skateboarding world where even scooters are used because they are a great way to travel; but this seemed stereotypical: inner city kids, out late at night, must be causing trouble. This situation is something most suburban kids—white—cannot identify with. Most have not gone through such a situation to understand Nate or Grant’s feelings. The boys are grounded the last month of summer vacation, right after Nate begins getting spotlight jobs. Getting caught sneaking out of the house or with a wad of money they might have been making could have been good conflicts.

What I think aside, Above is a good story for boys and reluctant readers. At 72 pages, Above is a short story with short chapters, ending each with a hook that makes you want to turn that page. The illustrations, one full page a chapter, add to the story and help the reader visualize Nate’s settings. There are tall buildings on every street in the inner city, but the suburbs are “flat,” as Nate calls it. Inner city kids skate in abandoned parking lots and in streets. Suburban kids have a nice, shiny skate park with games, rentals, and concessions. Nate must learn to live, skate, and work in both.

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Girls will like Above, if they give it a try. The cover shows Nate skating in front of a phoenix. Though a girl is in the story, the cover yells “boys.” Boys need more books they can automatically identify with and the cover is the first “page” we see. I think they will like the action and, if they skate, identify with Nate. The Tony Hawk: Live Skate 2 is a series of at least four books, every one available right now. Reluctant readers will be apt to devour all four and that is a terrific thing to happen. A short glossary of skateboarding terms is in the back, along with a synopsis of the book 2:

Nate Kreece is the youngest filmmaker ReBoard employs, but you’d never know it from his footage. The only thing tighter than Nate’s skating is his film work.

TONY HAWK’S TWITTER

TONY HAWK’S DRAWINGS

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Above (Tony Hawk: Live2Skate)

by Brandon Terrell    blog    twitter    short bio

Fernando Cano    website

& Joe Azpeytia, illustrators    deviantart    twitter

Stone Arch Books    website    blog    facebook    twitter

Released September 1, 2013

ISBN:  978-1-4342-6186-1

72 pages

Ages 9 to 12

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© 2014 by Stone Arch Books, used with permission

Text copyright © 2013 by Brandon Terrell

Illustrations © 2013 by Fernando Cano & Joe Azpeytia

Stone Arch Books is an imprint of Capstone Books

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7 thoughts on “#439 – Above (Tony Hawk: Live 2 Skate) by Brandon Terrell

    • They do look like graphic novel illustrations. I hadn’t noticed this until you mentioned cartoony, which is what I think o as comics. The beginning had the kids skating and the action ramped up (no pun intended) so a lot of slang for this jump or that ride was thrown around. I’m sure young boys would love it. (Maybe some big boys, too) 🙂

      What do you think? When someone says/writes “no pun intended” do you think they really intended it, or said/wrote it without thinking and they now realize the pun, but don’t want to remove it, or don’t want anyone to think they didn’t recognize it as a pun? 🙂

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  1. Sue, Great review! Extensive slang in books really bothers me. I probably wouldn’t have continued reading just because of that.

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    • The story is really good and this is book 3. I have not read 1 or 2, so it did a good job standing on its own. I just wish I’d known this before I posted the review, so I could have mentioned this. Slang I do not like, but if it were slang from my generation–slang I understand–it would not have bothered me. Guess I’m showing my age. 😀

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  2. “Boys need more books they can automatically identify with” – agreed. I sort of wish there wasn’t a girl on the cover, because I can see how that might be a turn off to boys browsing for an MG book they’d like. This sounds like a pretty interesting book although getting arrested does seem like quite a big plot leap! lol. Cool review honey, glad this one hooked you once you’d gotten used to all the slang.

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    • The covers are actually all boys. The girl in the story is a depth 3 character, so that shouldn’t bother boys at this age. Yeah, once I sort of understood the skateboard slang the story was easier to read. And it is a good story that continues on. The one I reviewed is book 3 of 4. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

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