When you grow up in a small town in the north woods, you have to make your own excitement. High spirits, idiocy, and showing off for the girls inspire Gary Paulsen and his friends to attempt: Shooting waterfalls in a barrel
The first skateboarding
Jumping three barrels like motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel-except they only have bikes
Hangliding with an Army surplus target kite
Wrestling . . . a bear?
Extreme sports lead to extreme fun in new tales from Gary's boyhood. !
Paulsen, who has written several volumes of memoirs, once again reaches back to his boyhood in northern Minnesota, this time to recount his and his pals' attempts to pull off stunts that live up to their billing as "outrageous" and "extreme," even by today's standards. An expansive foreword (which includes vivid details of the then-12-year-old author's almost catastrophic endeavor to ride over a dam in a covered wooden pickle barrel) and a don't-try-this-at-home admonitory note precede five swaggering tales of his contemporaries' derring-do. In the title story, a newsreel report about a new world record for speed on skis inspires a 13-year-old to try to break it by attaching himself to a car on the flatlands. Elsewhere, a boy rigs up a hang-glider of sorts from an army-surplus target kite and a piece of hockey stick, and lands in a pig pen; impressed by the daredevil shows at county fairs, the gang imitates the stuntmen's maneuvers on their Schwinn bikes, etc. Paulsen laces his tales with appealing '50s details and broad asides about the boys' personalities, ingenuity and idiocy. Despite (or maybe because of) a heavy residual tinge of the fish story, this collection will likely hook adults as much as young readers. Ages 10-up.