Snowboard Maverick

Can a skateboard pro conquer the slopes?


By Matt Christopher

Illustrated by The #1 Sports Writer for Kids

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Dennis O’Malley is a master on his skateboard. Although everyone else he knows skis all winter, a bad skiing accident has left him afraid to try it again. But when his friend Tasha gets a new snowboard, Dennis begins to wonder if he can turn his skateboarding abilities into snowboarding abilities. As he tries to develop his skills, he is challenged by rival snowboarders who make him doubt himself on his board. Can Dennis overcome his fears on the slopes in time to prove them wrong?



All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Little, Brown and Company

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New York, NY 10017

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First eBook Edition: December 2009

ISBN: 978-0-316-09531-0

The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

Matt Christopher® is a registered trademark of Matt Christopher Royalties, Inc.


Thirteen-year-old Dennis O'Malley sat straight up in bed and threw off the covers. The time on his digital alarm clock read 8:45 A.M., but the alarm hadn't gone off. Now he was going to be late for school! He ran to his bedroom door and yanked it open. "Why didn't anybody wake me?" he called out.

"It's Saturday, remember?" his mother's voice answered from downstairs in the kitchen. "We thought you might want the extra sleep."

Extra sleep! Was she kidding? Dennis shook his head and rubbed his eyes. With only two days of the week to himself, every moment was precious!

Dennis went to the window and raised the shade. Brilliant December sunlight poured over him, warming his face but leaving his bare feet freezing. Shading his eyes, he stared down at the quiet, treelined street. Snow was piled up in drifts on the lawns where people had shoveled their driveways, but the street itself— and the sidewalks, too — were clear.

"Yes!" Dennis shouted, pumping his fist excitedly. This was a golden opportunity, he knew. Moorsville was a winter resort town, and from now until April, blizzard would follow blizzard all through the long winter. The days with clear sidewalks would be few and far between. And without clear sidewalks, there would be no chance to skateboard.

Skateboarding was Dennis's passion — his favorite thing in the universe to do. He had been at it since his eighth birthday, when his parents had given him his first board.

Ever since then, his family and friends had rarely seen him without his board. Flash, he called it. Every chance he got, Dennis practiced. First he'd learned the proper stance and balance, then how to stop and do turns. The next thing he knew, he was doing simple tricks. Now there was no one in Moorsville who could skateboard better than Dennis.

The only trouble was, for five months a year, he had to wait for the occasional warm spell between blizzards. A kid could get out of practice completely by the time spring finally came. Sometimes, Dennis wished his parents would move the family to Florida, or California, or someplace equally warm and sunny.

Not that he didn't like Moorsville. He had lots of friends there, and he liked his school and his teachers. It was pretty in October, when the leaves fell, and in May, when everything was in bloom. It was fine in summer… but unless you loved snow, the winters were bad.

Dressed now, Dennis careened down the hallway, swung himself in an aerial arc over the banister post, and slid his way downstairs. He yanked open the hall closet door and pulled out Flash, along with his usual safety equipment — helmet, wrist guards, elbow guards, knee guards.

Then, remembering his father's rule — no skateboarding in the house — he tucked Flash under his arm and walked into the kitchen.

His mom and dad were seated around the breakfast table, and the room smelled like cinnamon and coffee. Dennis's mom, Diane O'Malley, was feeding baby Elizabeth from a jar of pureed peaches. Both baby and mother had flaxen blond hair and big blue eyes, although Diane's peered out from behind a stylish pair of glasses.

Dennis's father, Russell O'Malley, lowered the paper from in front of his dark, handsome face and smiled at his son. Dennis had his dad's dark hair and green eyes, and the same craggy smile. "Morning, sleepyhead," Mr. O'Malley said, arching an eyebrow. "Going boarding for a change?"

"The sidewalks are clear," Dennis explained with a shrug. "Gotta go. See you later!" Grabbing a cinnamon roll with his free hand, he waved at his family and headed for the door. He stuck the roll in his mouth for a moment so he could grab the doorknob, and while he was at it, he took a bite.

Just then, Felix, the O'Malleys' black Lab, came bounding into the kitchen, barking his head off as he usually did when anyone in the family left the house without him. "Gotta go, Felix," Dennis told him. "Here. Have some breakfast." He broke off a piece of his roll and gave it to the dog, who chomped down on it happily, allowing Dennis to make a clean getaway.

"Don't forget we're going to do some shopping later today," his mother called as he was leaving. "Be back in an hour if you want to go!"

The cold air bit into his skin. The wind blew the kitchen door closed behind him, and he was out in the morning chill.

"Whew!" Dennis muttered as he pulled up the hood of his parka and Velcroed it shut. He blew steam into the air with his warm breath, and the gusty wind blew it away. He sheltered his eyes from the glare the sun made off the snowdrifts, and looked around.

The sidewalks were clear, not only of snow but of people, too. At nine on a Saturday morning, everyone in Moorsville was still inside, sipping their hot cocoa until the sun warmed things up and the wind died down a little.

He decided to head east up Crabtree Lane, where the sun would be in his eyes but the wind would be at his back. He put his board down on the sidewalk and took off.

Instantly, Dennis entered a different world. When he was moving along on his board, everything was transformed. He felt the energy surging through him as he zipped past trees, houses, and parked cars. It was almost like flying.

Dennis turned his face up to the morning sun, half closing his eyes. This was living!

He came to the corner of Wells Avenue and took it with a forward turn. Then, at the spot where Mrs. Davis's big oak tree had heaved up the sidewalk, he bent down, kicked his board into the air with his back foot, grabbed an edge, and did an aerial right over the raised asphalt. He landed perfectly on the other side of the bump and straightened up. Awesome! he thought, pulling in a deep, cold breath.

The street went uphill now, and Dennis had to work a little harder. By the time he got to the top, he was out of breath but feeling much warmer. From here, he could see all the way to Ford's Mountain, the local ski resort. Tiny black specks wound their way down the distant trails. Skiers.

Dennis shook his head sadly. Skiing was definitely not for him. He had tried it once — and only once. He could still remember the pain and embarrassment.

When he was seven years old, his parents had taken him out on the bunny slope. He had done very well, too — so well that by the end of the day, he'd persuaded his dad to let him try the intermediate trail.

Dennis had been a bit of a daredevil ever since he was in diapers and had climbed to the top of the jungle gym in the playground. All the grown-ups made a fuss over him that time, and he found that he liked the attention.

But on the intermediate slope, he had been going much faster than he should have been. He came around a bend … and there was a fallen skier, right in his path! He tried to avoid her but couldn't. They collided, and Dennis somersaulted over her, going airborne right into a tree.

Six weeks later, Dennis was still wearing heavy casts on his right arm and leg. He swore to himself he would never ski or do any sport that involved speed and balance again. Of course, that was before he saw a group of teenagers skateboarding. It was love at first sight.

For his next birthday, his parents had given him his skateboard, and after that, when winter came around, he just stuck with Flash and forgot about all his friends who went skiing up on Ford's Mountain. It was lonely being the only skateboarder in town for the winter, but it was better than being encased in plaster!

Dennis looked down the long hill that led to his school. In warm weather, he had skateboarded down this hill a hundred times. But the memory of his skiing accident had put a chill into him, and at this moment, he just didn't feel up to it. He tucked Flash under his arm and walked down the hill.


Dennis wasn't sure why he was heading for school on a Saturday. Maybe it was the crowd of kids snowboarding down the hill behind the school. Snowboarding sure looked like fun. It seemed almost like skateboarding.

"Hey, Dennis!"

Dennis turned to see his friend Tasha Springer trotting down the side street toward him. Tasha was tall and athletic, with clear, dark brown skin, gleaming brown eyes, and long, curly black hair. Today she had it tied into a ponytail, and it was bouncing behind her as she ran. And was that a skateboard she had tucked under her arm?

"Hey, Tasha!" Dennis said as she came closer. "What's that you've got there?"

"It's my new snowboard!" she said, her eyes twinkling with excitement. "Check it out!"

She handed it over to him. It was much larger than a skateboard, and wider at the ends than in the middle. It had cool blue metallic surfacing, with the word Racer on top.

"Awesome," Dennis said, admiring it before handing it back to her. "Where'd you get it?"

"My folks got it for me for my birthday last month," she replied.

"Where are you going?" Dennis asked her. "Down by the school?"

"Uh-huh. Robbie's meeting me there."

At twelve years old, Robbie Maclntyre was a year younger than either Tasha or Dennis. He was also about a foot shorter than either of them. But what Robbie lacked in size, he made up for in guts. It was as though he had to prove to his older, bigger friends that he was braver than they were. No fence was too high for him to try to climb. No lake was too cold to go swimming in.

"Robbie's got a snowboard?" Dennis asked in surprise. "Since when?"

"Since he saw me with one," Tasha answered with à knowing laugh.

Dennis chuckled, too. "I guess he couldn't stand it that you had one and he didn't," he said.

"You got it," she said, nodding. "He's probably already there. Want to come along?"

Dennis was about to say no when Tasha cut him off. "You can borrow my snowboard. Come on, it's a lot different than skiing. You'll catch right on. It's just like skateboarding … kind of."

"Kind of, huh?" Yeah, right, he thought. Except that you go down slippery hills of snow and ice, with no way to stop yourself. It might look like skateboarding, but to Dennis, it sure seemed like skiing.

"So, do you want to come or not?" Tasha pressed him. "Come on, it'll be fun!"

"Oh … sure, I guess," Dennis said unenthusiastically. He tucked Flash under his arm and walked with Tasha down the hill to the school.

Robbie was waiting for them at the top of the hill that crested right behind the school building and sloped steeply downward toward the athletic fields beyond. Robbie had a mane of wavy red hair, with a face that was one big freckle. The braces that covered his teeth were always showing because Robbie never stopped smiling — unless you got him mad, of course.

"Hey, Tasha! Hi, Dennis!" he called out, running awkwardly through the snow toward them. Watching him, Dennis realized that he was the only one here in plain old sneakers. Everyone else — twenty or thirty kids in all — was wearing winter boots.

"Are you gonna snowboard, too?" Robbie asked Dennis, his eyes widening hopefully. Robbie treated Dennis like he was his big hero. It made Dennis feel uncomfortable sometimes, but he really liked Robbie, so he tried not to get mad about it.

"Nah," Dennis said. "I just came to watch you guys. I don't have my boots on or anything."

"Aw, come on!" Robbie moaned. "You've gotta try it — it's mad awesome!"

"It is pretty incredible," Tasha agreed. "You'll see. I'll bet in ten minutes, you'll be on a board, flying down the hill."


On Sale
Dec 19, 2009
Page Count
160 pages

Matt Christopher

About the Author

Matt Christopher is the best-selling name behind more than 100 sports-themed books for young readers.

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