Title: Stunt Kid Seriously Stacks It
Author: Jack Heath
Publisher: Scholastic Australia
Published: 1st March 2021
Synopsis: Levi is pretty sick of starring in Dad’s stupid TV show, Kid Kablam. Because Levi is the kid who gets KABLAMMED.
So far he’s been knocked down, blown up, and attacked by wild animals. And Dad has one more scene planned—the most dangerous stunt so far.
Can Levi survive this final stunt without seriously stacking it?
- · A brand-new comedy from award-winning Australian author, Jack Heath
- · A side-splitting tale about a quiet kid forced into performing dangerous stunts by his wannabe director dad for a TV show pilot, with a surprisingly heart-warming conclusion
- · A lengthier story for slightly older readers, aged 9+
- · Packed full of uproarious illustrations and funny design elements to break up the text, making it an accessible read for all levels
We’ve all seen the movies and television shows with stunts that in the real world would cause immense harm and even death to people. Think Kensi being hit by a car and then rolling off the bonnet in NCIS LA, or Derek Morgan in Criminal Minds doing…well, everything he does. Or James Bond in his various incarnations racing Astin Martins, Indiana Jones running away from boulders – these all look very real in the movies and shows, but they are also carefully planned and filmed stunts that contribute to the plot and ensure our heroes make it to the next episode or film. So what happens when your dad loves these stunts to such an extreme level, he thinks that they must all be real?
This is Levi’s reality. Levi would rather curl up and read, but his father is determined to finish filming the pilot of his action show, Kid Kablam, starring Levi, and has decided that Levi will perform every stunt himself – without help, and without a stunt double or any safety gear. Levi dreads what is to come – and enlists his best friend and hacker mastermind, Maya, to find a way to stop the stunts, because he can’t convince his father to stop the filming.
Poor Levi is the kind of character who things happen to, when they really shouldn’t, and who just wants a quiet life as he navigates his life at school. Levi and Maya hatch a clever plan to train for the stunt – but will their plan work? Or will everything turn pear shaped? What happens when he discovers the identity of a rich neighbour living in their hometown? Will this person help Levi, or hinder everything he has planned with Maya?
In true Australian irreverence, Jack Heath combines humour, action movie tropes and excitingly unique characters to create a fun, and genuine story peppered with Australian slang like budgie smugglers, and clever tongue-in-cheek references to action movies and movie franchises, subtly disguised with slight name changes yet they are recognisable to fans and adult readers. This adds a fun layer to the book as it allows older readers to enjoy it just as much as younger readers, and is a great book to read alone, or read together and out loud. It pulls together all the tropes we love and turns them on their head. I half expected Maya to announce she was joining the FBI rather than be arrested by them when she was uncovered by Officer Foo and his talking horse companion. Levi seemed to see this as totally normal, whilst everyone else questioned it. This added another layer of fun to the book, showing that everyone views the world differently.
Aimed at readers aged nine and older, even confident readers aged about eight will enjoy reading this, as it is filled with fun. It is the first Jack Heath book I have read – mainly because I have not always found the others when I want them, but this is a perfect entry into his work, and readers of all ages can build up towards his other books as they get older or discover the others.
The beauty in this novel is also in the relationship between Levi and Maya. It is a loyal and powerful friendship, and something we need to see more of in fiction for all ages. I loved the way the characters developed across the novel, and Maya’s devil may care attitude to being caught hacking or committing some kind of cybercrime. This tongue in cheek novel satirises the classic tropes of action, crime and mystery genres, and pulls them together in a humorous and entertaining way, keeping readers engaged and entertained throughout. I think the classic Aussie humour and lingo used makes it unique and fun and ensures Australian representation in the literary world for kids, who need to see their country – in many ways – represented in their books, and this will differ from book to book. Jack has done it in a fun and inviting way, and Stunt Kid is a great book and works well as a stand-alone, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some kind of follow up or book featuring Maya as the hero, and Levi helping her.
A great entrée into the world and mind of Jack Heath!