Roller Girl

Book review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Roller Girl Book Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
With girl power galore, graphic novel is great for tweens.

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 20 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The basics of roller derby, with some strategy and tactics explained. How to fall safely when skating. Artistic license explained. Advice on applying makeup. Steps for dyeing hair.

Positive Messages

If you really want something, work harder at it than everyone else. Don't run from your fear; embrace it, because the best things in life are worth fighting for. You're a real hero if you're willing to take a hit for the team and let another player have the spotlight. As you grow up, things become more complicated; you have to find your own path through it.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Astrid models sticking with something even when it's hard, giving it everything she's got. She learns how to be tough in the rink and how to channel that toughness through difficult situations in everyday life. She also learns how to be a better friend and to be the bigger person by apologizing and making amends when she's hurt others. Adult roller-derby coaches and players offer guidance and instruction, expecting a lot from the junior skaters and helping them become better. Astrid's mom is supportive and exposes Astrid to lots of different culturally enriching events. She and Astrid model fostering honest communication.

Violence & Scariness

Lots of bumping, falling, and hitting in the context of moves allowed in roller derby. Illegal hits are swiftly punished with time in the penalty box. One player wears makeup at roller-derby bouts that simulates dripping blood. Astrid angrily throws a soda that splashes on two other girls.


Rare. "Jerk," "butt," "turd." Several mentions that classmates call Astrid "Ass-turd."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that  Victoria Jamieson's 2016 Newbery Honor book, Roller Girl, is a graphic novel about how things change for Astrid during the summer between fifth and sixth grades. Against the backdrop of a roller-derby day camp, the book explores themes of friendship, working hard for something you really want, being a team player, and being ready for how much more complicated life becomes as you grow up. Violence is all on the rink, with elbow and hip checks shown. Sportsmanship, fair play, and being a contributing part of a team are all emphasized. Boy-girl dynamics are briefly touched on when Astrid wonders if a boy and girl she sees are on a date and whether they'll kiss. Astrid's a great model for sticking with something when it's hard and for learning how to be a better friend. All adults are great role models. There's some name-calling; the strongest language is a few mentions of Astrid's nickname at school, "Ass-turd."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 7 and 9-year-old Written byJennifer M. December 1, 2017

Roller Girl is realistic, empowering, and positive

Roller Girl is an amazing book with a message of strength, kindness, and empowerment for girls. Astrid goes through a lot in this book and learns some hard less... Continue reading
Adult Written byNatsmom22 February 12, 2016

Profane and inappropriate for its target audience

This book is a piece of garbage. I am quite shocked and disappointed in both Scholastic and Common Sense Media, who acknowledge that the characters use words li... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old October 20, 2018

Love it!

This book is so good! There is only one swear-word throughout the book but it is only used once, and your kids should be fine. It is about roller derby, and wri... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byToma Prichard March 16, 2017

Recommended to all ages

It has very positive messages for children of any age. The author renders the very complex emotions of maturing very cleverly, and gives it a very hopeful and... Continue reading

What's the story?

In the summer between fifth and sixth grades, Astrid's mother takes her and her best friend, Nicole, to see a roller-derby bout. Astrid is immediately fascinated by the strong, powerful athletes and their amazing moves on skates. When she discovers that the league offers a day camp for girls her age, Astrid immediately knows she wants to spend the summer as a ROLLER GIRL. But Nicole doesn't quite get it. Lately she's been more interested in boys, clothes, and her new snobby friend from ballet, Rachel. As Astrid deals with the pressure of training for her first bout in front of an audience, she and Nicole seem to be drifting in opposite directions. Is it time for them to go their separate ways, or can this lifelong friendship be saved?

Is it any good?

This colorful, engaging, and lively debut graphic novel has girl power galore. Big kids and tweens will easily relate to Astrid as she learns how to navigate a world where everything -- especially feelings and friendships -- is getting so much more complicated. And they'll really root for Astrid as she struggles to get good enough to be the team's jammer at the big bout. Astrid really is worth admiring as she powers through the bumps and bruises and picks herself up after each of the (seemingly millions) of times she falls down.

Author Victoria Jamieson's background in design and illustration serves her well in creating a vivid, entertaining, but realistic world. The engaging characters are well realized in pictures and with words, and the illustrations effectively enhance the text by adding nuance and telling detail to the story. Big kids and tweens will find a lot to admire here.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why graphic novels are so popular. What do we like so much about putting words and pictures together to tell a story?

  • Astrid talks about how feelings are getting complicated now that she notices she's feeling more than one emotion at a time, and sometimes even opposite emotions at the same time, such as when she said she felt "shad." Which feelings have you had at the same time? How were you able to cope with them?

  • Did you know about roller derby before you read this book? What do you think of it now? Look in your library or online for more books about the sport, or any other that interests you, to find out more about it.

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love strong girls and graphic novels

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