Reviews

Rock and Roll! Roller Girl

Jamieson, Victoria. Roller Girl. Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015. 239 pages. Hardcover $17.89, ISBN 978-0-525-42967-8; Tr. $11.09, ISBN 978-0-8037-4016-7; PLB $17.06, ISBN 978-1-48988-662-0

 

TL;DR: Do I recommend this? YES ABSOLUTELY

 

Genre: Sports story (Graphic Novel)

 

Part of a series? No.

 

Plot Summary:

Once again, I find myself wishing that I could do roller derby (alas, I am terrified of falling over and breaking my glasses, and my balance on skates of any kind is laughable). Jamieson’s protagonist Astrid discovers roller derby one night when her mother takes her and her best friend Nicole out for an Enlightening Cultural Experience (ECE). Unlike previous ECEs when Astrid has been forced to watch an opera, go to a modern art museum, or otherwise improve herself, Astrid instead gets to watch women on roller skates slam into each other to win points. She immediately plans to attend the Rose Bud roller derby summer boot camp with her best friend Nicole … until Nicole’s dance class friend (and Astrid’s number one enemy) Rachel starts talking about plans for dance camp. Confident in the knowledge that Nicole won’t desert her for Rachel, Astrid is shocked when Nicole ditches her and roller derby for a summer of dancing on pointe. Astrid’s summer doesn’t get much better when she finds out that roller derby is HARD … falling more often than she actually skates, Astrid feels lost, until her favorite jammer Rainbow Bite replies to her anonymous notes asking for advice. Could Astrid make new friends? Can she become a superstar roller derby girl? Or is she just a Rose Dud?

 

Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

I could not put this graphic novel down. I raced through it, eager to read more roller derby names, follow more plays, and get to know Astrid and Zoe (her musical-obsessed roller derby friend) better. I further appreciated Jamieson’s nod to the intense athleticism required for ballet, too. While it is awkward that Nicole chose Rachel and dance over Astrid and roller derby, Nicole’s preferred activity is not painted with the “girly girl” brush that her other choices are. Instead, Jamieson shows the painful side effects of dancing on pointe — bloody toes and bandaged feet, not unlike Astrid’s roller derby injuries. While Nicole’s interest in boys and shopping are more typically feminine than Astrid’s pursuits, their sports are not as different as one might assume. Readers will also appreciate the diversity on the page and the excitement of the sport.

 

Note: This didn’t affect my reading of the graphic novel, but one parent reviewer on Common Sense Media was appalled by the use of profanity in the rude nickname Astrid is given by the school bully (who refers to her as “Ass-Turd.”) While I didn’t find this to be a huge problem, it might be for some folks, so I should remain aware of the potential reactions to the nickname.

 

Curriculum Ties/Library Use:

A fun book club activity for this book could be designing a roller derby team — names for players, team names, and a logo. We could also potentially watch clips on YouTube from a roller derby bout, after I’ve had a chance to preview some to ensure there aren’t any inappropriate signs in the crowd or language caught on the microphones. (Ideas from myself)

 

Grade Level: 5-8

 

Awards and Starred Reviews:

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books starred 4/1/15

Horn Book Guide starred 10/1/15

Horn Book Magazine starred 3/1/15

Kirkus Reviews starred 12/15/14

Newbery Honor 2016

Publishers Weekly starred 1/26/15

School Library Journal starred 12/1/14

 

Reviews referenced:

Beach, A. (n. d.) Roller girl (Review of the book Roller Girl). Common Sense Media. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/roller-girl

Natsmom22 (screen name). (2016, Feb. 12). Profane and inappropriate for its target audience (blog comment). Common Sense Media. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/roller-girl

Kirkus Reviews. (2014, Dec. 6). Roller girl (Review of the book Roller Girl). Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/victoria-jamieson/roller-girl/

Publishers Weekly. (2015, Jan. 26). Roller girl (Review of the book Roller Girl.) Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-8037-4016-7

 

Reviews

Heat by Mike Lupica

Lupica, Mike. Heat. Puffin Books, c2006/p2007. 220 pages. Hardcover $15.34, ISBN 978-0-399-24301-1; Tr. $5.19, ISBN 978-0-14-240757-8; PLB $13.01, ISBN 978-1-42872-024-4

 

TL;DR: Do I recommend this? Yes

 

Genre: Sports novel

 

Part of a series? No.

 

Plot Summary:

This book is a glimpse into the life of a boy who is hiding something … but not the secret that everyone expects. In all honesty, this is one that was better to read than listen to. While the narrator’s voice was great for Michael’s stream-of-consciousness moments, the speaker could not make conversations clear and smooth, so I had to switch to reading it myself. Michael is a typical kid dealing with things no twelve-year-old should have to. Fortunately, he has his love of baseball to help him get by.

 

Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

Featuring a wise-talking best friend, a grandmotherly neighbor, and plenty of well-meaning adults, this novel explores what it means to be a kid with a secret…a dangerous secret, one that could ruin his life if it got out. Michael’s anxieties are very real, and while his best friend Manny injects humor into these serious situations, they are also handled sensitively by Lupica. Allowing for real stress and some sitcom-esque hijinks is a delicate blend, but Lupica pulls it off. While many of the baseball terms go over the head of a reader who doesn’t watch the game, it was still an immersive read.

 

Curriculum Ties/Library Use:

Book clubs could use this book and create vision boards (much like how Mrs. C plays a game with Michael where they envision his dreams coming true). They can either opt to discuss their vision boards or keep them secret, but they will spend “club” time making their boards. (Idea from myself)

 

Grade Level: 5-8

 

Awards and Starred Reviews:

ALA Notable Children’s Book, 2007

Booklist starred 4/1/06

 

Reviews referenced:

Berman, M. (n. d.). Heat (Review of the book Heat). Common Sense Media. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/heat

Kirkus Reviews. (2006, March 1). Heat (Review of the book Heat). Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/mike-lupica/heat-5/

 

Reviews

Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff

Graff, Lisa. Lost in the Sun. Philomel Books, 2015. 304 pages. Hardcover $14.49, ISBN 978-0-399-16406-4; Tr. $7.69, ISBN 978-0-14-750858-4; PLB $13.81, ISBN 978-1-51810-658-7

 

TL;DR: Do I Recommend This? Yes

 

Genre: Realistic Contemporary Fiction

 

Part of a series? No.

 

Plot Summary:

Trent Zimmerman has a lot on his mind. His dad has started a new family with his second wife Kari, and they are expecting a baby almost any day now. Meanwhile, it feels like Mr. Zimmerman is doing his best to tick Trent off. Trent’s fuse is shorter than usual, too, due to the fact that no one wants to talk to him anymore. After a tragic accident the school year before, Trent finds himself overwhelmed with guilt over the death of a peer, and it appears that the town agrees with him that he is at fault for the boy’s death. To make matters worse, Trent can’t try to play sports again to mend those friendships because any athletic activity makes him go clammy, remembering that February hockey game. Friendless and feeling attacked at home (first by his father’s attitude, then by his siblings’ insistence that Trent visit his dad anyway), Trent begins acting out. Fallon Little doesn’t seem to mind, but she’s weird. Could they become friends?

 

Critical Evaluation/Reader’s Comments:

 

This book is fantastic. Graff does a fabulous job describing Trent’s “fire” that erupts in his chest and forces him to blow up when he is angry. Trent does his best to control his impulses, but sometimes (often, early on, he cannot control them at all) they get the better of him, costing even more trust in the community.

 

Curriculum Ties/Library Use:

This book would be a great book for a student dealing with anger management issues or who is interested in reading about this topic. It could also be a great book club book — there is a great deal of potential discussion that could be had when considering Trent, Fallon, and their classmates. A fun club activity would be to watch one of Fallon’s movies and look for the continuity errors. (Idea from myself)

 

Grade Level: 3-6

 

Awards and Starred Reviews:

Booklist starred 3/15/15

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books starred 9/1/15

Kirkus Reviews starred 3/1/15

Publishers Weekly starred 3/16/15

School Library Journal starred 4/1/15

 

Reviews Referenced:

Eisenhart, M. (n. d.). Lost in the sun (Review of the book Lost in the Sun). Common Sense Media. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/lost-in-the-sun

Publishers Weekly. (2015, March 16). Lost in the sun (Review of the book Lost in the Sun). Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-399-16406-4