Freak out!;Reviews;Books

22nd January 1999 at 00:00

Sport is cool, but some sports are cooler than others. Anything that seems fast, dangerous, extreme, has great clothes and gear, and looks effortless is more desirable to young eyes than safe, sweaty, plodding effort. Snowboarding, for instance, is ultra-cool; flash and dash, with quite a large expenditure of cash. Meantime - the adults are asking - is it safe?

Leslie McKenna, British Ladies Snowboarding champion, in her sparkling contribution to the Fantastic Fold-out series, does a good job in skimming gracefully over the fields of fun while slaloming neatly around every potential adult worry. McKenna's authority is matched by virtuoso design and huge enthusiasm; even I wanted to go and get kitted up straight away - and I hate snow!

The other titles in the series are equally impressive. Aldie Clamers is an experienced skating instructor. It shows. His introduction to the hip moves and "rad" argot of in-line skating is clear and affectionate. Did you know that "aggressive" means "master of tricks", that "rec" skaters use different wheels from hockey skaters, and that "air" means "jump"? Information about safety is cleverly woven into attractive pictures of skating wear.

Such inside knowledge and welcoming tone characterise the other two books in the series. Gymnastics is by Lloyd Readhead, director of coaching and judging at the British Gymnastics Association; Mountain Biking is by Brant Richards, an experienced biker and editor of a bike magazine. All the titles are illustrated with photos of cheerful young sportsmen and women. The series would be useful both for children researching sports they would like to try and for adults anxious about financial and safety implications.

There's only one caveat; the centre fold-out spread - which gives the series its name - is the weakest point in design and interrupts the books' steady flow of information.

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