The other night my ten-year-old son was looking for something to read at bedtime. I handed him my review copy of Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson, not sure what to expect. When I checked on him an hour later, he was just a few pages away from the end of this 250-page graphic novel. And the next night, he snagged it to read a second time. That’s saying something.

So, when I saw that the book became a Newbery honor recipient this week — the award for great writing, not illustration — I knew I had to take a look too.

Related: The ultimate list of the best kids’ books of 2015: All the annual best-of lists and award winners all in one place.

The story focuses on Astrid, a fifth-grader whose mom has always taken her and her best friend, Nicole, to cultural events around the city. They’ve done the opera (“boring”) and the modern art museum (
weird”). Then, one day, she takes them to a roller derby. The girls’ different opinions sets their friendship on a course toward self-destruction, however Astrid finds herself hooked and eventually attending a roller derby camp with the motto, tougher, stronger, fearless. Those lessons are echoed in her relationships as well.

Ultimately, (spoiler alert!) the book beautifully demonstrates that sometimes best-friendships come to an end, but not necessarily a bitter one.
Roller Girl Book by Victoria Jamieson: Excellent 2016 Newbery Honoree, and for good reason


Victoria Jamieson’s art drew me in at first, but the authentic story — she herself skates as Winnie the Pow with the Rose City Rollers in Portland — kept me reading. I highly recommend getting this one for your middle-grade girls or boys. If mine is any indication, they won’t be able to put it down.

You can find Newbery honor book Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson at our affiliate Amazon, or your local bookstore.