Reading Level: Grades 4-8; Lexile Level 440L; ATOS Level 3.2
Interest Level: The interest level for this book would be middle school ages, around grades 6-8. I think these ages would relate more with some of the struggles Astrid faces like puberty and friendships.
Summary: Astrid must learn some tough lessons when it comes to friendships and determination. Astrid was born to do roller derby, at least she thinks she was until the day roller derby camp starts. Along with roller skating and derby rules, Astrid must also learn some tough lessons on friendships and determination.
Justification: Roller Girl was a 2017 Texas Bluebonnet Award book. This title was also a John Newbery Medal honor book in 2016, a commended title on the ALSC Notable Children’s Books list for 2016, and a selected title for the 2015 School Library Journal (SLJ) Best Books of the Year list. Lastly, Roller Girl was a 2016 selection title on the International Literacy Association (ILA) Young Adults’ Choices Reading List and the ILA Children’s Choices Reading List.
I enjoyed this book and the female empowerment tone it set. I like that it touched on a very real, and tough, topic of growing up; that sometimes you and your friend may grow apart. While that may not be explicitly stated, it was implied throughout the story when we see Astrid and Nicole pursuing different interests. By the end of the book, each girl as made a new friend with shared interests, and they feel okay with this decision. The character growth of Astrid kept me reading and had me finish the story in one sitting. We see Astrid, a determined but quiet young lady, blossom into someone with a strong sense of self and the ability to recognize when they were wrong. As an adult, one of my favorite scenes was when Astrid is caught in her lie and the way her mom handles it. Astrid’s mom shows us a gentle parenting technique and in fact digs to the root of Astrid’s problem instead of immediately doling out punishment.
The story flowed nicely and was not rushed. The story takes place over the summer, or length of the roller derby camp, and plenty of detail was given to just how long it took Astrid to feel comfortable on her skates. By the end of the story, I felt complete. There were no unanswered questions on just how we ended up with a totally different Astrid than the beginning. I also like that Jamieson didn’t make Astrid a pro at skating right off the bat. We watch Astrid fail multiple times which causes her to learn determination and perseverance. Roller Girl shows readers that it’s okay if you aren’t good at everything, you can still have fun in the process.
Through the illustrations, we can watch the progression of Astrid’s skating abilities. Also, the colors throughout the book were just superb. Astrid likes dark colors, it’s something she states and that is implied from the illustrations. For majority of the book, Astrid is wearing black while the other characters are waring a lot of pinks and purples. It seems like this is a way of portraying the internal struggles Astrid is facing, as if she is keeping herself closed off. Once Astrid colors her hair, there is a shift in the illustrations. They become brighter and Astrid becomes more confident and open.
Jamieson, V. (2015). Roller girl. Dial Books for Young Readers.