Review of Roller Girl

Roller Girl
by Victoria Jamieson; illus. by the author
Intermediate, Middle School    Dial    240 pp.
3/15    978-0-8037-4016-7    $12.99

When Astrid’s best friend Nicole starts harping on ballet, fashion, and dating, Astrid is left behind (read: not interested). She’s behind on the roller derby track, too, where she’s signed up for summer boot camp even though she can’t do a crossover to save her life or skate five seconds without disaster. Practice makes better, and Astrid’s skills and cred build with every bruise and scrape. Coaches, teammates, and celebrity roller Rainbow Bite cheer Astrid on as she faces the challenges of derby as well as tweendom — including mean-girl moments, changing friendships, and the worst of the worst: clothes shopping with Mom. When the time comes for her big end-of-summer bout, “Asteroid” is blue-haired, brimming with confidence, and ready to roll. This graphic novel also serves as a surprisingly informative derby primer. Jamieson’s dialogue captures coming-of-age within a subculture so authentically that readers will forgive the art’s occasional inconsistencies in draftsmanship. The comics format is used resourcefully, with the artist occasionally placing Astrid before exaggerated, out-of-this-world backdrops (a desert on a long, hot walk home, for instance) and pausing action to address readers directly. Tweens and young teens will identify with Astrid’s journey to find her unique voice in the world and derby name on the track. Have it at the ready for Telgemeier fans racing to find something new.

From the March/April 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Elisa Gall

Elisa Gall is a teacher-librarian at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. 

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