Ramp Rats: A Graphic Guide Adventure by Liam O'Donnell

Illus: Deas, Mike
ISBN: 9781551438801
Format: Graphic
Rating: good
Grade: 4-6
The summer is only just beginning, but Benny “Bounce” Sharp already knows there’s trouble ahead. All he wants to do is use the skate park to learn some new tricks with his best friend, but the park is dominated by Crunch and his gang, and the police chief won’t allow skating anywhere else in town. Everyone tells Benny to stand up to Crunch, but that’s easier said than done–especially when Benny makes an ill-advised bet about who will win the upcoming skate competition, with the stakes being use of the park. Luckily, Benny’s stepbrother Marcus is in town to teach Benny the finer points of skateboarding–and to give him the courage to stand up to Crunch.
Subplots involving local vandals and protection rackets flow with the rest of the narrative, and the explanations of how to do each trick are well-integrated into the story. There is not a lot of specialized vocabulary (and what little there is, is defined early on) and the directions on how to perform the different tricks are clear to this non-skater. Kids already familiar with skateboarding should be able to figure out these moves based on the instructions given. Overall, narrative and how-to blend seamlessly, without either half lecturing at the reader.
The artwork has a cheery, inviting, Saturday-morning quality to it, and the cast is ethnically diverse without skin colors being an element in the story. The only strike against the artwork is Bennyâ s slightly feminine appearance; early references to “him,” “brother,” or other male signifiers are a little confusing until the reader realizes that Benny is, in fact, a boy. (His best friend is a girl, which is also a non-issue in terms of plot, but does reinforce the assumptions.)
Recommended for most graphic novel collections, particularly where skateboarding is popular.
Reviewer: Brandy Danner
LibraryCity: Wilmington
Reviewdate: 1/26/09


About Sharon Colvin

Sharon Colvin is past chair of the Youth Services Section of MLA and a Youth Librarian in Chelmsford, MA.
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