The new book from the award-winning Phil Earle, author of Heroic and Being Billy.
All my life I've been tiny Charlie from the Chinese Chippie, whose only friend is Sinus, the kid who stares at walls.
But I believe that everyone's good at something.
I've just got to work out what my something is...
Charlie's found his secret talent: skateboarding. It's his one-way ticket to popularity. All he's got to do is practice, and nothing's going to stop him - not his clumsiness, not his overprotective mum, nothing.
Except Charlie isn't the only one in his family hiding a massive secret, and his next discovery will change everything.
How do you stay on the board when your world is turned upside down?
Phil Earle was born, raised and schooled in Hull. His first job was as a care worker in a children's home, an experience that influenced the ideas behind Being Billy and Saving Daisy. He then trained as a drama therapist and worked in a therapeutic community in south London, caring for traumatized and abused adolescents.
After a couple of years in the care sector, Phil chose the more sedate lifestyle of a bookseller, and now works in children's publishing. Phil lives in south-east London with his wife and children, but Hull will always be home.
Fourteen-year-old Charlie Han is short, clumsy, and friendless save for fellow school outcast Linus (aka Sinus), with whom he has nothing in common. Charlie's overprotective mother (who insists that he ride a tricycle when making deliveries for the family's Chinese takeout restaurant, Special Fried Nice) doesn't help his basement-level social status either. After Charlie discovers skateboarding, it feels like his life is turning a corner until his mother has a mortifying meltdown at the skate park. His peers respond with a prank that involves wrapping him in bubble wrap, an event that is recorded and goes viral. Charlie's amusing sarcasm ("It's bad enough fulfilling every racial stereotype possible by being a Chinese kid who lives above a takeout place, without the takeout having the lamest name known to man") masks a vulnerability that will resonate with anyone who has felt like an outsider. The humiliation of being the butt of a joke is sensitively rendered, as is Charlie's slow reclamation of his pride in this witty, true-to-life story. Ages 10 up.