Set in an icy, mystical land, Olga Jaffae’s Skateland series is perfect for young readers who love both figure skating and the Harry Potter collection.
The third book in the series, “Cammie and Alex’s Adventures in Skating History,” was released
They follow Cammie Wester, an 11-year-old skater, as she masters new skills and faces the pressures of her competitive environment.
The books do not sensationalize a prodigy’s rise to the top; instead, they follow a more realistic track, showing a girl struggling to master double jumps. I know a lot more young girls who are working on their double Lutz, not reeling off triple-triples.
What gives these books some extra pizzazz is the magical world of Skateland, where witches, who represent obstacles like injuries and doubt, can attack skaters at any time. The magic involved allows the readers to escape to an imaginary world, but it also teaches lessons important to any developing athlete.
For Jaffae, blending fantasy in her books came naturally. “Figure skating is such a magical sport in itself,” she said. “It was easy to give it a fairytale form, a magical concept.”
A lifelong skating fan, Jaffae took up the sport herself four years ago. She hopes to increase children’s interest in reading, as well as in skating. “By getting children to read, especially non-skaters, maybe they will be encouraged to skate,” she said. “I think the sport is under appreciated.”
Although the uncluttered writing style is well-suited for the target age group (children ages 9 to 12), the books have some weight to them.
At 400-plus pages, the newest release uses time travel to explore skating history, personalizing the stories of Jackson Haines and Sonja Henie, among others. Adults who love skating will enjoy the history but might find the stories and writing a little too simplified.
Jaffae has seven books planned in the series, with the fourth book tentatively scheduled for release next summer.
The first three books are a pleasant read, and I would recommend them to young skaters and skating fans.
Originally published in February 2011