As they did in Basketball Belles (2011), Macy and Collins offer a superb social study through a sports lens.
In the days after World War II, when Rosie the Riveter was expected to go back to slinging hash at home, some girls took up a new sport slinging each other around a track. Roller derby had been developed, and a growing fan base, aided by the advent of television coverage, couldn’t get enough of the feisty free-wheeling queens. Collins’ dynamic, full-spread action “shots” emphasize the circular sweep of the track and the disappear-into-the-distance audience. They give readers the feeling they are not just ringside, but perhaps working the TV camera. The text replicates a sportscaster’s staccato and captures the pace of the competition. Macy seamlessly packs in the details that allow youngsters to understand the cultural revolution they are witnessing, including the changing role of women, the birth of TV sports programming, and the use of sports marketing that includes the cultivation of personas and manufactured rivalry—here between Toughie Brasuhn and Gerry Murray—to keep fans hooked. Even as these women battle it out, the mischievous glimmers in their eyes reveal their love of the sport and regard for each other. Children eager to see the two real-life queens need only turn to the backmatter to find photos and URLs for film clips.
Positively riveting. (author’s note, timeline, sources, further reading) (Informational picture book. 7-10)