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From the Derby Daredevils series, volume 1

by Kit Rosewater ; illustrated by Sophie Escabasse

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: March 24th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-4197-4079-4
Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

The first in an illustrated middle-grade series about growing up—and roller derby.

Fifth graders and best friends Kenzie and Shelly have always done everything together. They also share the same dream: to be on the same roller derby team. It’s only 2,000 days until they turn 15 and can join the local “wreck” league. But when tryouts for a new junior league are announced, the girls no longer have to wait. The catch: if “Kenzilla” and “Bomb Shell” want to be on the same team, they need to try out as a team. The Dynamic Duo must find a way to expand to a fivesome, and introvert Kenzie will need to accept that she must share outgoing Shelly with new people. The third-person limited narration sympathetically conveys Kenzie’s struggle. The derby scenes are fast-paced and fun to read, with clearly explained rules; readers who hope for the further support of a glossary will be disappointed, however. Expressive black-and-white graphic novel–style illustrations show wide diversity among classmates and derby members. Kenzie and Shelly are white; new teammate and basketball player Tomoko is Asian and larger than the other girls; skateboarder and Kenzie’s crush, Bree, is black and wears her hair in locs; and a third, shy Camila, is implied Latinx. Kenzie’s dad is trans, a fact that is incidental to the story.

A lighthearted celebration of life, friendship, and rolling with the punches. (Fiction. 8-12)