Real-life roller derby skating star Victoria Jamieson’s graphic novel debut is full of heart and positive mental attitude, all set within the competitive sport of roller derby.
After being taken to the Roller Derby by her mum, Astrid is totally captivated by the sport and the Rose City Rollers star player Rainbow Bite. Excited to sign up for the Roller Derby summer camp, Astrid quickly finds herself out of her depth, lost amongst older and more experienced skaters and without her lifelong best friend to support her, who would you believe it has betrayed Astrid and signed up for dance camp.
In the rough and tumble world of roller derby and surrounded by cool kids with tattoos, dyed hair and piercings, will Astrid be able to skate into new friendships, earn a place on the team and discover who she really is…
My first venture into the world of roller derby was awesome and Roller Girl is one of my all-time favourite graphic novels. It is perfect reading for children in their later years of primary school who are preparing for high school and all of the changes and challenges that it brings.
Victoria Jamieson's brilliant coming-of-age story that follows Astrid’s time at roller derby summer camp packs a punch as big as one of those ferocious hip-checks that Astrid is determined to master. Full of bumps and bruises, both physically and emotionally, Astrid’s life - that has suddenly been turned upside down - will strike a chord with many readers because as we all know, life for a kid about to start high school is far from straight forward.
Astrid is completely recognisable as a pre-teen who is experiencing many relatable issues. Her world has been torn apart by the unexpected friendship rift that arises when BFF Nicole heads off to dance camp and bonds with Astrid’s enemy, Rachel. To make matters worse, Astrid is completely out of her depth at the roller derby, out of her comfort zone and struggling to to stand up let alone skate in a straight line. With the mantra ‘Tougher. Stronger. Fearless’ and positive messages from skating superstar Rainbow Bite, Astrid is a great protagonist who learns to persevere, to let go of old friendships and welcome in the new as well as learning how to jam, block and most importantly, how to fall and get back up again (there’s a lot of falling down).
Real-life, like roller derby, is tough, there are highs and lows, frustrations and celebrations, heart-break and happiness and Roller Girl hits upon a lot of important aspects of life that pre-teens will easily identify with; fear of new situations, growing apart from childhood friends, exploring new friendships, fixing things when you have screwed up, following your passions and learning to discover who you are. These big themes are all delivered with a lightness of touch and bags of humour and heart.
Colourful action-packed cartoon strips are full of energy and Jamieson expertly captures Astrid’s changing moods and emotions both on the roller derby rink and in her personal life.
Bursting with girl-power, Roller Girl is a book that deserves to roll its way into many a middle-grade readers lives.
Recommended for 9+.