Friday, March 17, 2017

BMX Bully and Speedway Switch by Jake Maddox, illustrated by Sean Tiffany

The Jake Maddox imprint (no, he's not a real person) is not exactly well-written, but I have gotten the most reluctant of readers to read them, so they're awesome in my book!

In BMX Bully, Matt is struggling with his feelings about his father being overseas and a new guy running the BMX course. This gets even worse when a cheating bully shows up - and turns out to be the son of the new owner! Matt works hard to keep his cool and play fair, even when the other kid breaks the rules and he and his dad try to rile him up. Eventually, he wins despite the obstacles and finds another track where the owner remembers his father and doesn't allow cheating.

Speedway Switch features twins, Michael and Mark. One drives on the midget-car circuit and one is the mechanic. An unsafe driver causes an accident, making Michael have to sit out a whole season and Mark takes his place, although he's not a good driver. When Michael gets a chance to go up against his nemesis, what will he do? Will his dad let him race? Will he get hurt again?

The Jake Maddox series covers not just mainstream sports and both male and female players, it also covers more obscure sports. I had no idea kids raced cars. I guess you have to be more of a sports and/or Nascar fan to know this! The writing is fast and choppy, although it has a mid-range lexile (blech) any kid who's ready to tackle a beginning chapter can usually make it through these. The endings are simplistic and the characters one-dimensional. But, they offer what many reluctant readers want. Exciting, blow-by-blow descriptions of sports, dramatic clashes of personality (bullies, cheating) and a happy ending.

Verdict: You can pretty much buy these without ending. There are multiple different series, some at a higher level, featuring both boys and girls, and many also feature diverse characters. They come in inexpensive paperbacks or more expensive library binding. Your library should have at least a small selection of these titles for reluctant readers, sports fans, and kids who want a quick, fun read. I chose these two titles for my recent book club and all the copies were pounced on with glee. I've also gotten several extremely reluctant readers, those who resolutely refused to pick up any book, willing to read these.

BMX Bully
ISBN: 9781598892369; PB edition published 2006 by Stone Arch/Capstone; Purchased for the library

Speedway Switch
ISBN: 9781598894165; PB edition published 2007 by Stone Arch/Capstone; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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