Roller Girl


Roller Girl
by Victoria Jamieson

Readers Theater

Book Trailer

Author Interview

Related Activities & Resources:

Author Information:
Victoria Jamieson blog:

Bounded Enthusiasm #10-Victoria Jamieson is a Roller Girl:

Kirkus interview of Victoria Jamieson:

NW Kids interview of Victoria Jamieson:

SLJ review of Victoria Jamieson, includes video interview of Victoria. Interview starts 4 minutes into video(10:45):

5 questions with Victoria Jamieson:

Victoria Jamieson on Twitter:

Roller Girl Book Review by student

Play last woman standing on page 97. You can modify the directions by running and tapping the person on the arm to tap them out. Everyone must be spread out to start. Draw or tape a huge oval field on the floor for play.

Play the war face drill on page 120-121.

Come up with your own scary roller derby name.

Play Simon Says using the following terms. Crossover, plow stop, one knee fall, two knee fall, small turn around, toe stop, backward skate, and t-stop.

There are roller derby teams in the large cities of Texas. Ask someone from a local team to come and demonstrate moves and talk about being a roller derby girl.

Many school districts have roller skates from the physical education department. If yours does, ask to use them and have students try to skate and learn some of the moves.

Roller derby rules and terms defined:

Rose City Rollers homepage:


Skating skills list (scroll down toward bottom of page):

Rose City Rollers (6:54):

Roller Derby in Texas:




Discussion Questions:

If you were told you were having an evening of cultural enlightenment, what would you think? What is culture enlightenment?

Brainstorm cultural events. What cultural events would you be willing to go to?

Would you want to go to a poetry reading or opera? Explain.

Astrid and Nicole are given a poster of Rainbow Bite. They are afraid to ask Rainbow Bite to sign it. Why? Have you ever asked someone for an autograph? Were you scared? Why? Why are famous people scary?

Astrid makes a list of what she needs to do to train for roller derby camp. She needs equipment, to eat better and exercise. Have you ever been in training for a sport or event? Did you stick with the training? How hard was it?

Astrid wants her mom to take her skating so she offers her orange juice and pays her a compliment. Does this work for you when you want something from your parents? Explain.

Astrid believes Nicole will go skating with her because that’s what best friends do. Is this true? Do best friends have to do everything together? Explain.

Astrid touched a dead squirrel because Rachel told her not to. Have you ever done something because someone told you not to? What did you do, and how did it make you feel?

Can you get rabies from just touching a rabid animal?

Astrid doesn’t know how to skate and ends up hiding in the restroom? What does this tell you about Astrid? Have you ever hidden because you were not good at something? What advice would you give to Astrid?

Astrid’s mom tells her to go get some fresh air. Astrid thinks parents act like getting kicked out of the house is a real treat. What do you think and why?

Why does Astrid not like that Rachel is at Nicole’s house? Is it hard to have more than one friend at a time? Why is Astrid having a problem with this?

Nicole says Astrid is not listening when she explains about going to dance camp. What does this say about Astrid? Have you ever been so wrapped up in yourself you didn’t listen to others or have a time where someone didn’t listen to you? How did it make you feel and what was the outcome of the friendship?

On the first day of roller derby camp Astrid lies to her mother about how she is getting home. Would you have lied or told the truth? Why? Why do you think Astrid is afraid to tell her mother Nicole is not going to roller derby camp with her?

The girls at camp have roller derby names to make them sound fierce and intimidating. If you were joining the group, what name would you give yourself and why?

Astrid hates camp so much she asks her mom if she can get a refund. Then she says she really loves camp when her mom wants to call Nicole’s mom. Have you ever continued to do something you hate because of a secret? What was it, and how did you feel in the end? Would you have been better off telling and quitting or continue to be miserable? Explain.

On day two the girls tell Astrid how awful they were on their first day of camp. Why does Astrid need to hear this?

Is it okay that the girls bet she will not come back after her first day? If someone was betting you wouldn’t come back would this make you quit or stay? Why?

After having a good first skate outside Astrid writes to Rainbow Bite. Why does she sign the note Rose Dud?

Astrid’s mom makes her change clothes. Astrid is embarrassed to wear the cutesy donated clothes. Would you be more embarrassed to wear cutesy pink girly clothes or dirty stinky clothes? Explain.

In Rainbow Bite’s note to Astrid she has her repeat three words. Tougher, Stronger, Fearless. Why? What is a mantra, and what is its purpose? Have you ever used one, and what effect did it have on you?

The coach tells Astrid she may not be ready to play in this first bout. In her mind Astrid hears, I’m going to play in my first bout. Why does Astrid think this?

Astrid thinks dying her hair will make her tougher, stronger and fearless. Do you agree? Can outward appearances affect your attitude? How so? Give examples.

Astrid says if her mom didn’t want her to dye her hair, she wouldn’t have taken her to a roller derby game. Is this rational thought? Explain.

Nicole tells Astrid to wear a fake nose ring. When Astrid’s mother realizes it is fake she will not mind about the blue hair. Is this a good strategy? Explain.

What would bother your parents more – dying your hair a funky color, getting a tattoo or a face piercing? Why?

In the amusement park when Zoey asks Astrid if Nicole and Rachel are her friends Astrid says no. Why?

Astrid makes fun of Nicole and Rachel while they follow them in the park? Why? Why does anyone make fun of someone else?

Rachel thinks Astrid is on drugs because she has blue hair. Do we also make assumptions about people based on their looks? Why? Give examples? Would you want to be judged by your looks?

There is a saying that you can only make a first impression once. What does this mean?

Rachel tells Nicole to stop being friends with Astrid or she’ll get a bad reputation. Is this true? What does it mean to be guilty by association?

Nicole asks how a person can just stop being friends with someone. Is it possible? Explain.

Is it cruel to pretend to be friends when you are not? Explain. What advice would you give Nicole about friendship?

Astrid wants to be a jammer and does extra practices to be picked. Zoey who doesn’t really care that much about being a jammer is chosen over Astrid. How would it make you feel if something like this happened to you?

Astrid can’t be happy for Zoey, which makes Zoey feel bad. Give Astrid advice.

When Nicole lies to Astrid’s mom about attending roller derby camp Astrid thinks she has an ulterior motive and will use the information against her unless Astrid can get her first. What does this say about Astrid? Do you think Nicole was sincere?

Astrid can’t concentrate on the bout or practice because she has revenge on her mind. How can revenge hurt you?

Astrid’s mom talks calmly to Astrid about the lie she was caught telling. Do you think Astrid’s mom responded correctly? What would you have done if you were Astrid’s mom?

When Astrid goes over to apologize to Nicole, she is told she is basically self centered. What does this mean and do self centered people know they are self centered?

Rainbow Bite leaves a note telling Astrid the best things in life are worth fighting for. Do you agree? Give examples.

Astrid makes something for Zoey. Have you ever hurt someone so badly that a verbal apology is not enough? Why do you think a verbal apology is not enough for Zoey?

Throughout camp Astrid pictures herself as the hero making all the best moves. We also do this. We are the hero in our own day dreams. Why do we do this and is it important? Explain.

Rainbow Bite says it takes a real hero to take a hit for the team and to let the spotlight shine on someone else. She says Astrid inspires her. Do you look up to someone more when they make the big score and are the hero or when they give the limelight to someone else? Why? Do you think people notice everything you do or just the big stuff?

Book Talk Teasers:

Show a clip of a roller derby game.

Read Ch. 1, p. 8 through first frame on p. 18  (Use a camera to project images if possible.)

Read Ch. 9, p. 120 through first frame on p. 130 (Use a camera to project images if possible.)

Read Alikes:

Comics, graphic novels, plot-driven, fast-paced, amusing, angst-filled:
Larson, Hope. Chiggers. When Abby returns to the same summer camp she always goes to, she is dismayed to find that her old friends have changed, and the only person who wants to be her friend is the strange new girl, Shasta. (NoveList)

Comics, fantasy, likeable, spunky, feel-good:
Stevenson, Noelle. Lumberjanes,1. Best friends Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley spend a fun summer at Lumberjane scout camp where they encounter yetis, three-eyed wolves, and giant falcons while solving a mystery that holds the fate of the world in the balance. (NoveList)

Autobiographies and memoirs, coming-of-age stories, graphic  novels, narrative nonfiction, angst-filled:
Telgemeier, Raina. Smile. An autobiography in graphic novel format describes how the author lost two of her front teeth in an accident when she was twelve, and her subsequent struggles with various corrective dental techniques throughout adolescence. (NoveList)

Attention-grabbing, graphic novels, twelve-year-old girls, issue-oriented:
Davila, Claudia. Luz makes a splash. It’s a heatwave and the city is limiting the use of water. Luz’s favorite park is suffering from the drought and her local swimming pond is dry. Luz decides to rally her community to find ways to help. (NoveList)

Graphic novels, separated friends:
Ruth, Greg. The lost boy. When Nate finds a tape recorder and note addressed to him in his new home, he is thrust into a dark mystery about a boy who went missing long ago, and must team with local girl Tabitha to uncover the truth. (NoveList)

Graphic novels, persistence in girls:
Holmes, Jennifer L. Babymouse. 07, skater girl. When Babymouse discovers her own special talent–ice skating–she is courted by a famous Olympic coach, and soon finds her dreams of getting a medal spiralling out of control. (NoveList)

Coming-of-age stories, character-driven, angst-filled, upbeat:
Friesen, Gayle. The Isabel factor. Introvert Anna is forced to go to summer camp as a counselor-in-training alone after her outgoing best friend Zoe breaks her arm, but when she meets another lonely girl, Isabel, she realizes what true friendship is all about. (NoveList)

Comics, mystery, plot-driven, fast-paced, angst-filled, funny, offbeat, compelling, witty:
De Campi, Alex. Kat & Mouse. 4, The knave of diamonds. Chloe’s diamond necklace has been stolen by The Artful Dodger, and it’s up to Kat and Mouse to find it. However, this is not ordinary middle school mystery, and to solve it, Kat must at last determine the Dodger’s true identity. By the time this case is solved, Dover Academy will be shaken to its very core! (NoveList)

Social situations:
Criswell, Patti Kelley. A smart girl’s guide to friendship troubles: Dealing with fights, being left out, and the whole popularity thing. Offers girls help dealing with backstabbing, bullying, betrayal and other tough friendship problems through advice, quizzes, tips, and accounts of girls who have overcome their differences and strengthened their friendship. (NoveList)

Reece, Gemma. The Girls’ book of friendship: How to be the best friend ever. Counsels girls on the secrets of positive friendships, sharing tips on a wide range of topics from making new acquaintances and resolving arguments to helping those in need and making friendship bracelets. (NoveList)

Realistic fiction, diary novels, believable, character-driven, amusing, angst-filled:
Stemberg, Julie. Friendship over. Using the journal she receives for her tenth birthday from her father, Celie Valentine records what’s on her mind, including feuding with her best friend Lula, spying on her parents, and trying to figure out her grandmother’s odd behavior. (NoveList)

Early chapter books, first-person narratives, realistic fiction, relatable, character-driven:
Rissi, Anica Mrose. Anna Banana, and the friendship split. Anna and Sadie have always been best friends so when Sadie suddenly starts being mean, Anna is very sad and seeks support from her dog Banana and classmate Isabel, as well as advice from her brother Chuck and her parents. (NoveList)

Realistic fiction:
Schroeder, Lisa. Frosting and friendship. Twelve-year-old Lily finds herself knee-deep in sugar and sheet music as she tries to juggle her responsibility to her bandmates and give her friend the best Sweet Thirteen party ever. (NoveList)

Wilson, Jacqueline. Bad girls. Ten-year-old Mandy must endure torment from three nasty bullies in school, but she finds solace in a new friendship with an older girl. (NoveList)

Comics, graphic works, fantasy comics, graphic novels:
Lenhard, Elizabeth. W.i.t.c.h.: Power of friendship. Five friends who are guardians of the Veil, the boundary that separates good from evil, have adventures to save the earth from evil forces. (NoveList)

Education, social situations:
Williams, Julie. A smart girl’s guide to starting middle school: Everything you need to know about juggling more homework, more teachers, and more friends! Offers advice on a variety of topics relating to starting middle school, including setting up a morning routine, equipping a locker, and tackling extra homework. (NoveList)

Humorous stories, realistic fiction, spirited, character-driven, funny, upbeat, attention-grabbing, conversational:
Cabot, Meg. The new girl. Guided by her rules, nine-year-old Allie works to get past being just the new girl at school, eagerly awaits the arrival of her kitten, and faces turmoil when her grandmother visits while the family is still settling into their new home. (NoveList)

Coming-of-age stories:
Bulla, Clyde Robert. Shoeshine girl. Determined to earn some money, ten-year-old Sarah Ida gets a job at a shoe shine stand and learns a great many things besides shining shoes. (NoveList)


Book Reviews:

Roller Girl.
By Victoria Jamieson. Illus. by Victoria Jamieson.
2015. 240p. Dial, paper, $12.99 (9780803740167). Gr. 4–8. 741.5.
First published March 1, 2015 (Booklist).

Almost-middle-schooler Astrid (“Ass-Turd” to the mean girls) just isn’t interested in the kinds of things everyone else is. Her BFF Nicole likes boys and ballet and the color pink, but Astrid’s new obsession is tough, fast-paced Roller Derby. She thinks she and Nicole can spend their summer together at junior Roller Derby camp, but Nicole opts instead for ballet camp with Astrid’s archnemesis. And when it turns out that Astrid isn’t quite the Roller Derby prodigy she had hoped to be (she can barely master falling!), it seems both her summer and the impending start of junior high will be disasters. The bright, detailed, and colorful illustrations convey Astrid’s scrappy personality while also focusing on the high-contact aspect of Roller Derby: the girls hip check and elbow one another right out of the panels. While learning the game, Astrid learns how to be a friend and, maybe, that not all friendships are forever. A touching look at the ups and downs of following one’s dreams, in addition to introducing readers to a relatively unknown sport. —Maggie Reagan


Horn Book:
[STARRED] Roller Girl
by Victoria Jamieson; illus. by the author
Intermediate, Middle School Dial 240 pp.
3/15     978-0-8037-4016-7 $12.99

When Astrid’s best friend Nicole starts harping on ballet, fashion, and dating, Astrid is left behind (read: not interested). She’s behind on the roller derby track, too, where she’s signed up for summer boot camp even though she can’t do a crossover to save her life or skate five seconds without disaster. Practice makes better, and Astrid’s skills and cred build with every bruise and scrape. Coaches, teammates, and celebrity roller Rainbow Bite cheer Astrid on as she faces the challenges of derby as well as tweendom—including mean-girl moments, changing friendships, and the worst of the worst: clothes shopping with Mom. When the time comes for her big end-of-summer bout, “Asteroid” is blue-haired, brimming with confidence, and ready to roll. This graphic novel also serves as a surprisingly informative derby primer. Jamieson’s dialogue captures coming-of-age within a subculture so authentically that readers will forgive the art’s occasional inconsistencies in draftsmanship. The comics format is used resourcefully, with the artist occasionally placing Astrid before exaggerated, out-of-this-world backdrops (a desert on a long, hot walk home, for instance) and pausing action to address readers directly. Tweens and young teens will identify with Astrid’s journey to find her unique voice in the world and derby name on the track. Have it at the ready for Telgemeier fans racing to find something new. ELISA GALL (March/April 2015 Horn Book Magazine)


School Library Journal:
Roller Girl
Gr 4–8—Twelve-year-old Astrid realizes that her interests are distinctly different from those of her best friend. Mesmerized while viewing a roller derby, she dreams of becoming a “Roller Girl” but discovers that the sport is considerably more daunting than she imagined and is not without physical, social, and emotional pain. Nevertheless, Astrid is determined to succeed. While this graphic novel provides interesting information about the sport, at its heart it is a story of friendship, exploring the tensions which test the girls’ relationship as they move from childhood to adolescence. Astrid learns to be honest with herself, her mother, and her friends through a series of stressful events. The graphic novelist employs several excellent visual devices: angles to denote action and effective placement and space within panels. Jamieson’s clever use of imagery is noteworthy. For example, desert and prehistoric depictions are used to suggest exaggerated perceptions of elapsed time. Her clothes shopping “hell” sequence is spot-on. Panels with stick figures are employed for comments, notes, and explanations. A prologue effectively frames the story and the realistic style with full-color art is reminiscent of the work of Raina Telgemeier. While at times some panels are a bit text-dense, the story will engage readers who will identify with Astrid as she deals with frustrations and disappointments. It will especially appeal to those whose aspirations fly in the face of convention. Offer this comic to fans of Telgemeier’s Smile (Scholastic, 2010) and Laura Lee Gulledge’s Page by Paige (Abrams, 2011).—Barbara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY


The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books:
Jamieson, Victoria. Roller Girl. Dial / Penguin, 2015. hb 9780525429678, pb 9780803740167, ebook 978069819059

In this sharp and engaging graphic novel, Astrid and her best friend, Nicole, have always done everything together, so Astrid has just assumed Nicole would join her for roller-derby camp. Readers will spot trouble right away in reticent Nicole’s evasion of the topic, so it is little surprise when Nicole chooses ballet camp and boy-watching instead, leaving Astrid without an emotional safety net or a literal ride home from the rink (she walks/skates it instead). In addition, Astrid’s not quite the roller derby prodigy she imagined, and she’s bumped, bruised, and exhausted every single day. There is a delicious, albeit painful, absurdity in the distance between how impressive Astrid thought she would be and the skills she is actually bringing to the table (she didn’t really know how to skate, for example); readers will sympathize, and it is also makes for effective humor. The dynamic between Astrid and her single mother is impeccably developed—it is clear how Astrid became the headstrong, confident girl she is under the care of a woman who shrugs and admits her long-standing disdain for Astrid’s old best friend (and that girl’s mother) before lovingly addressing her daughter’s grief. The roller derby elements are sprinkled like candy throughout, with clever names, hip derby terminology, a kickass mentor structure that is authentically described, and even a full exhibition match to absorb. Crisp, bright illustrations (think Raina Telgemeier) primarily reflect the text, though there are moments of true slump, dejection, or weariness that are perfectly conveyed in the illustrations that would have been difficult to express without them. Expect follow-up requests for roller derby books, even from readers who might have imagined themselves to be more aligned with Nicole. Review Code: R* — Recommended. Grades 4-7. April Spisak (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, April 2015 (Vol. 68, No. 8))