CM . . . .
Volume VI Number 21 . . . . June 23, 2000
As punk and new wave music began to fuse with the "outlaw" or underground image of skateboarding, it started to dramatically change the entire sport. As skating moved from horizontal (slalom, downhill, freestyle) towards vertical (pools, parks, ramps, pipes), it assumed a more aggressive style. There has been much debate about whether this fusion was good or bad, but the fact is that it happened and SkateBoarder had a hard time deciding how to handle the sport's more aggressive turn, which was unappealing to some advertisers.Using information from his own research as well as from contributors to his "Skategeezer" website, which is dedicated to the history of skateboarding, Brooke has compiled a 40-year chronology of the sport. The book is divided into four main "waves," each one lasting an average of seven years. (Gaps between the waves indicate periods of time during which skateboarding was out of favour.) Topics include the earliest homemade boards and their inventors, the technological improvements in skateboard design, safety equipment, freestyle techniques, skateboard parks and the many businesses which were spawned as a result of skateboarding's increasing popularity. Boarders will easily recognize brand names such as Independent, Vans, Alien Workshop and World Industries, to name a few. Pioneers in the world of boarding are featured, as well as interviews and first-hand accounts, many of them fond reminiscences, written by famous (and not so famous) skateboarders. Though the majority of the book focuses on skateboarding in North America, there are brief chapters devoted to other parts of the world - Australia and Sweden - as well. The trials and tribulations of skateboarding's waxing and waning popularity and its impact on the companies that manufacture board components and accessories are dealt with in an honest and straightforward manner. What is most evident in the text, however, is that boarders are a group unto themselves, many of them passing along their love of this fun, thrilling sport to their own children.
The text varies in difficulty, largely due to the fact that there are several contributors, each with his own writing style. Brooke's portions of the book are well researched and written in fairly typical expository style, whereas the interview responses and letters from skateboard inventors and aficionados are far more casual in style and have simpler vocabulary. The beauty of the book is that it does not necessarily have to be read in its entirety or in proper sequence. Readers may choose their particular area of interest and not even bother with the "heavier" stuff. A word of caution: some of the vocabulary and illustrations (of company logos on stickers, boards and in cartoons) might be offensive to some readers, and so, for this reason, the book might not be suited to an elementary school library (although the kids themselves have been exposed to the language and off-colour slogans every time they've entered a skateboard shop). The book also provides sections on skateboarding legends of each decade, appendices of skate pros over the past 40 years, skateboard movies, competitions, memorable skateparks of North America, skate 'zines, a list of resources, an index and a table of contents. There are plenty of colour (and some black-and-white) photographs which expertly match the text. The layout is bright, contemporary (read "cool") and attractive.
Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian at Bird's Hill School in East St. Paul, MB.
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