Surf Riders Club #1: Ava’s Big Move – Mary van Reyk

Where was this book when I was growing up?! Girls are going to adore and be empowered by Ava’s story. This story is so sweet it may as well be coated in sugar but young girls love that!

I spent most of my childhood weekends and school holidays at the beach, reading until I got too hot, then swimming or bodyboarding until it was time to read again. Back in the olden days I didn’t see female surfers but longed to be one, even though I adored bodyboarding. Had I read this book as a kid I’m positive I would have had the confidence to ignore all of the boys in the water and claim my right to be a girl surfer.

When Ava finds out her parents are moving their family to Beachcrest to fulfil their longtime dream of opening a café, Ava is devastated. She can’t imagine not living in the city across the road from her best friend Sarah.

When Alex, the first girl Ava meets at her new school, tells her the school is offering surfing as a sport for the first time that year, Ava decides to join as well. Together with Molly, Janani and Bronte, they are the only girls to join the beginners class. Also in that class are a couple of confusing boys, James who used to be nice but isn’t anymore and nice boy Tom. My favourite character was prickly Bronte who appeared somewhat confused by her own desire to join in with this lovely bunch of girls.

Ava spends plenty of time practicing surfing with her new friends, waitresses at the opening night of her family’s new café, hosts a sleepover, and eats plenty of pizza and ice cream. I’m definitely craving pizza now…

To graduate from beginners to intermediate next term each surfer needs to be able to catch five waves in the final lesson of the term. Ava is anxious about the possibility of being left behind in beginners while all of her friends move up a level. What will happen when the big day arrives?

I love that this book is endorsed by Surfing Australia and really appreciated that while this is a great book about friendship, girls will also learn some useful information, including:

  • How to identify rips and what to do if you’re caught in one
  • How to bodysurf
  • Tips for choosing a good beginner’s board
  • Surfing lingo and etiquette
  • How your body needs to be positioned on the board to catch waves on both a bodyboard and surfboard.

While most of the sugary sweet sections had me thinking about how much I’d have loved reading that as a kid, one scene really annoyed me. Ava and her Year 7 friends are dancing around in the lounge room during a sleepover and her Year 11 brother gets home and joins in with the dancing. Huh? Really? I would have found this so much more realistic if the brother simply rolled his eyes and smirked at the girls on the way to his bedroom to escape the giggling.

Adding to my growing list of insults to store in my head for future use, telling someone they’re “the stink that lingers around a dead rat”.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Hachette Children’s Books, Australia for the opportunity to read this book. I’ll be continuing to read this series and look forward to getting to know Ava and her new friends better along the way.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Join the girls as they take on the world, one wave at a time!

Meet five very different girls with one thing in common: they’ve caught the surfing bug!

Ava has grown up in a big city. But everything changes when her parents decide on a sea change – they’re moving to the small town of Beachcrest to open a cafe. Ava will be starting high school that year, and now she has to say goodbye to her life in the city. Her new school is very different and Ava misses her friends. When she hears that surfing is going to be offered as a sport for the first time, Ava uses her snowboard skills to give it a try. Not everyone thinks she can become a surfer but Ava is determined to prove them wrong, and she’s making new friends along the way!

Ava, Alex, Bronte, Janani and Molly form the Surf Riders Club to help each other practise, but it quickly becomes much more than that. Whether it’s learning how to get barreled, problem parents or annoying boys, the Surf Riders Club are there for each other, no matter what.

Officially endorsed by Surfing Australia.

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