Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 9 to 12
- Grade: 4 to 7
- Reading age: 9 to 12
Jamie is determined that nothing—not even his annoyingly popular younger brother Seth—is going to spoil his fun at a mountain biking camp in the backcountry. Nothing but stumbling on a giant grow-op in the woods, that is. And watching their fellow campers get captured by violent drug dealers. And working with Seth to figure out a way to save them without getting caught themselves.
About the author
Alex Van Tol taught middle school for eight years, then made the switch to writing for a living. A writer of fiction and nonfiction for kids and teens, she has published over 10 books including Great Bear Rainforest: A Giant-Screen Adventure in the Land of the Spirit Bear with Ian McAllister and several titles in the Orca Currents, Soundings and Sports lines. Alex lives in Victoria, British Columbia, with her family.
- Commended, Resource Links "The Year's Best"
Excerpt: Gravity Check (by (author) Alex Van Tol)
I push all thoughts of falling out of my mind and focus on being one with the trail. I roll along, up rises and into dips like a wave following the ocean floor. I steal a peek behind me, the wind rushing through my helmet openings.
Warren has dropped back. He's slowed down to take the hill. Good. I've bought myself some time. I'm formulating a devious plan. If it works the way I want it to, I'll be able to put Warren away too. Without getting myself killed in the process.
"Can be summed up in one word: adventurous...A great book for reluctant readers, especially one who is into sports...Van Tol has a fantastic voice to appeal to a teen crowd."
"Van Tol does it again with her newest novel, enticing the reader through mystery and suspense as the plot unfolds!...Jamie is a well-thought-out, quick thinking, teen that reacts to his situations with caution and gumption; all of the characters are balanced very well, adding to the chilling reality and believability of the story at hand...Concern and trepidation for the characters seized me as I read, and I highly recommend this novel for all readers 10+, regardless of reading level or interest in mountain biking. This phenomenal novel is a testament to Van Tol's sheer writing genius. Five stars!"
"This book has a highly engaging storyline mixed with descriptions of mountain biking that will appeal to boys."
Tacoma School District #10
"Jamie is a solid character, and his actions and reactions throughout the book are quite believable...Van Tol does an excellent job of keeping the story advancing quickly while still allowing the reader to catch subtle nuances of character as each of the camper/bikers get to know one another....Gravity Check is very suitable for its audience, having been published for reluctant readers through "Orca Sports." The reading level is simple and the plot compelling as well."
"Plenty of sports action, just enough specialized jargon to provide flavor, and some character conflict...Climaxed by a melodramatic rescue from armed thugs, and then the arrival of a surprise villain (just ahead of the police), this quickly paced tale offers multiple “whoop-de-doos” (look it up) for Matt Christopher fans and older reluctant readers."