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Roller Girl Paperback – Illustrated, March 10, 2015
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For most of her twelve years, Astrid has done everything with her best friend Nicole. But after Astrid falls in love with roller derby and signs up for derby camp, Nicole decides to go to dance camp instead. And so begins the most difficult summer of Astrid's life as she struggles to keep up with the older girls at camp, hang on to the friend she feels slipping away, and cautiously embark on a new friendship. As the end of summer nears and her first roller derby bout (and junior high!) draws closer, Astrid realizes that maybe she is strong enough to handle the bout, a lost friendship, and middle school… in short, strong enough to be a roller girl.
In this graphic novel debut that earned a Newbery Honor and five starred reviews, real-life derby girl Victoria Jamieson has created an inspiring coming-of-age story about friendship, perseverance, and girl power!
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From School Library Journal
2016-2017 Texas Bluebonnet Award winner
A New York Times Bestseller
A Spring 2015 Indie Next Pick
A New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Book of 2015
A New York Public Library Best Book for Reading and Sharing of 2015
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2015
A School Library Journal Best Book of 2015
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2015
A Top 10 Latin@ Book of 2015
A Parents Magazine Best Children's Book of 2015
A Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2015
A Texas Bluebonnet Award 2016-2017 nominee
A 2016 YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers selection
A 2016 YALSA Popular Paperback selection
An ALA Notable Children's Book of 2016
A 2015 Nerdy Book Club Award Winner for Best Graphic Novel
“Roller Girl's message of self-discovery, friendship, and perseverance will roll its way right into your heart.” —Raina Telgemeier, New York Times bestselling author of Sisters
“This spiky, winning graphic novel captures the bittersweetness of finding a new passion and saying goodbye to your former, more uncertain self.” —New York Times Book Review
* "Jamieson captures this snapshot of preteen angst with a keenly decisive eye, brilliantly juxtaposing the nuances of roller derby with the twists and turns of adolescent girls' friendships...Full of charm and moxie—don't let this one roll past." —Kiruks, starred review
* “The story will engage readers… Offer this comic to fans of Telgemeier’s Smile and Laura Lee Gulledge’s Page by Paige.”—School Library Journal, starred review
* "Readers will stand up and cheer."—Publishers Weekly, starred review
* "Jamieson’s dialogue captures coming-of-age…so authentically"—Horn Book, starred review
* "[A] sharp and engaging graphic novel”—BCCB, starred review
"Visually, Roller Girl is very appealing — think Lynn Johnston with a modern edge — but it's the storytelling that really sets this graphic novel apart…A great choice for tween girls, whether they're remaking themselves, renegotiating friendships or just weathering the stormy seas of early adolescence." —Chicago Tribune
- ASIN : 0803740166
- Publisher : Dial Books; Illustrated edition (March 10, 2015)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780803740167
- ISBN-13 : 978-0803740167
- Reading age : 9 - 12 years
- Lexile measure : GN440L
- Grade level : 4 - 7
- Item Weight : 1.21 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.63 x 1 x 8.31 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #7,330 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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I think it would resonate best with kids who are 9-to-14--a time when children run into a lot of misunderstandings coupled with hormones. I remember being exactly that age as a couple long-term friends and I split apart with our differences. The main character (Astrid) has a lot of intense emotions that are experienced at that age and comes to the understanding that she was actually part of the issue when it comes to the demise of her friendship with her best friend (Nicole). She realizes she was caught up in her own world and stopped paying attention to the person Nicole grew into. They seemed to make peace they were taking different paths, but it's up in the air whether or not they will be friends. It seems like a parent could mention is that it's okay (good even) to have friends in different aspects of your life. They don't have to share all your interests. You don't have to part ways even if the main things you love are very different.
I am not completely sure about the message at the end. Astrid chooses to eat dinner with her roller derby friends instead of Nicole after the game. That is okay except Astrid leaves Nicole's gift of flowers at the bleachers. I know it's meant to be powerfully symbolic, but it seems so wasteful. Why not regift them?
But perhaps I am overthinking this. The book is still a good message for girls as we woman are too often pressured to put others' feelings in front of ours or hang onto a relationship as long as possible—which actually makes things worse. It also touches on a subject that seems to be pretty universal for tweens and young teens—even those who don't play/like roller derby.
Astrid’s passion for roller derby ignites when Ms. Vasquez takes Astrid and her best friend, Nicole, to their first derby bout. Afterward, Astrid can talk of nothing but the derby and fails to notice that Nicole doesn’t share her excitement. Come on, how could she not? Check out the theater of it all: the players’ costumes and wild hair colors, the electricity of the crowd, and the take-no-prisoners energy that drives the sport. Astrid even discovers an idol in Rainbow Bite, a star jammer for the Rose City Rollers, who exemplifies roller derby’s ferocity and skill. Astrid loves the fact that there’s nothing girlie or restrained about roller-derby culture, and when she hears about summer camp for junior players, she’s chomping at the bit to sign up. Best friends do everything together, right? This assumption crumbles when Nicole reveals that she’s planning to attend dance camp instead, along with Rachel, Astrid’s one true nemesis from their early elementary days.
With Nicole’s “desertion,” Astrid has to face the first day at derby camp alone. From there, complications abound. Ms. Vasquez is under the impression that Nicole’s mom will give Astrid a ride home at the end of each day’s session. Astrid is afraid to tell her mom that Nicole isn’t participating, as this would lead to all sorts of questions Astrid wants to avoid. As a result, the lies she must tell and the long walks home she must endure only add to the drama of those first grueling weeks at the rink. Did I mention that Astrid discovers she’s a lousy skater?
Despite aching muscles and botched skill drills, Astrid persists and finds new motivations as she enters more deeply into the world of her chosen sport. The camp coaches balance demanding practices with timely pep talks, and Astrid strikes up a friendship with Zoey, a camper her age. Another boost comes in the form of a correspondence with Rainbow Bite that starts when Astrid discovers the star jammer’s locker and begins leaving notes for her. (Rainbow proves a generous celebrity and writes back with inspiring tips.)
None of these triumphs mean that Astrid transforms into a roller derby standout; what matters are the personal victories that she achieves over the course of the summer, including earning the respect of her teammates and figuring out some important things about who she is and what sort of friend she wants to be.
Roller Girl succeeds on multiple levels. Through a lively narrative and a rich visual landscape, it draws readers into the fascinating world of roller derby, often explaining the rules and strategies of a sport unfamiliar to many through clever diagrams and dramatized scenes. Through these invitations to explore the sport, it portrays women and girls as highly capable both physically and intellectually. Readers get a clear sense that women can—and should—take on tough challenges.
In addition, Roller Girl gives us a Latina character comfortable with her ethnic identity and shows us Anglo characters who are equally accepting. Astrid’s Latina background doesn’t even emerge until page 54, and only much later do we learn that the family is Puerto Rican. This information comes across casually, as just another cool detail about the main character. At least this is how Astrid’s new friend Zoey takes the information when Astrid reveals it during a scene in which West Side Story plays in the background.
Astrid says to Zoey, “I’ve seen this movie! My mom made me watch this for an evening of Puerto Rican cultural heritage. Or something.” (At first blush, the idea that an adult puertorriqueña would push this movie as representative of her culture struck me as improbable. I associate West Side Story with racial stereotypes, discriminatory casting—white actors playing the Puerto Rican leads—and the problematic practice of filming lighter-skinned Latino actors in brown-face. But after asking around, I learned that not all Latinos recoil at the legacy of West Side Story, and many view Rita Moreno’s dynamic, Oscar-winning performance as a cause for celebration.)
In general, my sense is that ethnicity may not be central to the story, yet it gives readers additional exposure to a positively framed diverse character who faces the same challenges most 12-year-olds face. In fact, one of the biggest ways that Roller Girl succeeds is in its depiction of Astrid’s emotional journey. It delivers an honest and satisfying ride through many of the complex social and internal upheavals of middle-school life. I particularly like the author’s portrayal of mixed emotions. On one page, a central panel depicts a kindergarten poster of cartoon faces bearing unambiguous expressions. The caption reads: “The feelings were all simple ones, like ‘happy’ and ‘sad.’ They didn’t tell you about feelings that got mixed together like a smoothie.” In the next panel, Astrid contemplates exactly such “mixed together” feelings, the result of running into Nicole after weeks of separation. Astrid is happy to see her former best friend yet sad about the emotional distance that stands between them now. Out of this, she coins a new word, “shad,” a distillation of those contradictory feelings—happy and sad. This moment of acceptance that emotions are complex seems to me a marker that a character is coming of age.
As happens with the best of sports stories, Roller Girl follows a character’s trajectory through brutal training challenges, inevitable setbacks, as well as moments of triumph–and elevates these into something beyond athletic achievement. At twelve, Astrid is finding her way in the world. Some of her falls are literal and happen on the skating rink. Some are relational and emotional, and arrive without the benefit of coaches to teach her how to land injury-free. The important thing is that after each fall, Astrid is learning how to dust herself off and get back into the game.
Pros: Middle grade readers will cheer for Astrid as she learns how to be herself and to navigate the tricky waters of girls’ friendships. Fans of Smile and Sisters will love Roller Girl.
Cons: Graphic novels like this take too long to create…I can’t wait to read the next installment of Astrid’s story!
Top reviews from other countries
One thing to be careful of - there are two types of book. One is a regular book, which is fine. We bought that book a couple of years ago, but it got lost unfortunately. The other type of book is slightly smaller, cheap glossy paper and it fell apart after a couple of normal uses. That type of book is not worth buying.
I like this book because it is funny. I like the pictures. I think it's a god read for children aged 7+
By Kizzy aged 8