This is an incredibly well told story. I find it so realistic. I really know how Charlie (the boy in the book) feels; the descriptions are just so good. I highly recommend this book. I think everything Charlie says in this book is actually true, in a way. It feels so true as well. I think Phil Earle has written a masterpiece kids’ book.
Charlie is 14 years old and very short for his age. His Dad owns the Chinese ‘chippy’ down the road, and, just to make matters worse, he has the most overprotective mum ever. When he starts making deliveries for the Chinese takeaway, his mum buys him a trike instead of a mountain bike. It comes with tons of lights and reflective gear. It’s so heavy it can hardly move. His Mum mistakes his genuine tears for tears of joy! Charlie is friends with Sinus (his real name is Linus). Sinus has a huge nose and stares at walls.
When Charlie is in the middle of a delivery, a boy riding a skateboard speeds past him and Charlie instantly falls in love: with skateboarding. But because his mum would never let him do it, he borrows one from Sinus’ older brother. When his Mum stumbles across him skateboarding, he gets into huge trouble. Turns out, he wasn’t the only one hiding a secret. He finds out he has an aunt, Dora, he never knew about. She had a bike accident as a child which now gives her regular fits; she’s in a nursing home. His mum has been hiding this by making Charlie think she is going to college courses when she’s visiting her.
Then, after trying to get back into skateboarding, but scared he’ll get injured, he gets wrapped in bubble wrap by some other skateboarding teenagers who want to ‘help’ his mum by keeping him safe. Charlie starts visiting Aunt Dora regularly. Weirdly, graffiti keeps appearing all over the school. The tags say BWB in the coolest ways. Charlie finds out it was Sinus and it stands for Bubble Wrap Boy!
Then, a skateboarding competition comes to town and Charlie enters for the half-pipe challenge. Well, the plan is to bring Dora and Mum, to show mum how much he knows and show them his skills. Sadly, Dora dies before that can happen. But Charlie still goes to the competition, as the bubble wrap boy. The book then suddenly ends with Charlie in mid-flight during the contest – this is a bit strange. It just reads: “Flying for Dora”.
This is not a funny book but the story is strong enough to keep you reading. The real lesson in this book is not to keep secrets (or not for too long!). I’d read more books by Phil Earle.
Review by Finn Buck aged 12.