I am a huge fan of comics and believe that it can help promote reading, especially among the more reluctant readers. Last year I placed several graphic novels (collected comics) in my book corner and saw many children take an interest in the medium and this year I am adding to the catalogue.
Roller Girl is a story about the world of Roller Derby, something I know practically nothing about (apart from the fact that Drew Barrymore directed and starred in a film about the sport called Whip It which also starred Ellen Page) However this story is more than just a love letter to the sport, it's more a story of growing up and changing friendship dynamics set against the background of the sport.
Astrid and her best friend Nicole have been besties for years but are slowly growing apart. They used to do everything together, but this summer things change when Astrid signs up for a roller derby summer day camp whilst Nicole signs on to a ballet summer day camp. The story is centred around Astrid figuring out who she is and what kind of person she wants to be in the formative years of her life.
Astrid herself is presented as a well rounded character so it's easy to identify with her, even though I'm an Asian man in my thirties and she's a tween girl. I'm sure that we’ve all felt like we didn’t know who we were or felt like we didn’t belong somewhere at some point in our lives. These are universal themes that are not bound to age or gender because we are all familiar with them. We can empathise with what Astrid feels and we want to see her grow and develop as a person. There is a moment of reckoning where Astrid breaks down and tells her mother everything and it rang true, Astrid is not perfect and is not presented as such. She often is selfish, rude and well... human.
This graphic novel is a great read and even though I didn't know much about the sport I do now and it was all presented with relative east without info dumping or technobabbling.
Roller Girl is well worth a read and I'm looking forward to having it in my book corner in school alongside the various other graphic novels I've put there. These books are always popular with my children and I think this one will fit in nicely too.