Review Detail

Free Skate!
Overall rating 
 
4.5
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
5.0
Kenzie and her best friend Shelley love roller derby, a sport in which they are interested because Kenzie's mother is involved. They both hope to join a team when they are in high school, so are super excited to see that there are try outs for ages 10-14 teams at the warehouse in Austin, Texas where they have been skating. The only problem is that they really want to try out together, and find that the only way they can do this is to put together a team of five. They don't have a lot of time, but look around their school and approach several people. Tomoko is fearless at basketball but not getting enough time on the court, and is willing to give it a try. Jules is involved in a Shakespeare theater group, but always getting in trouble for her sword fighting, and is also willing to give it a try. Celia, from the same theater group, is less thrilled, especially since she has never skated. Shelley wants Bree, who is in their class at school and skateboards, to try out, but Kenzie doesn't want to have her around, mainly because she has a nascent crush on Bree and doesn't know how to handle it. The girls take their team to the tryouts, and while things don't quite work out as they planned, they are ultimately successful.
Good Points
This had a lot of good drama in it-- Kenzie worrying that Shelley, her best friends, is becoming friends with Tomoko and might drop her, the crush on Bree, and the stress of putting together a team in order to be able to skate in a league. Friendships are an important part of elementary school, and there is often a lot of drama, especially in fifth grade. It's good to see Kenzie working through her problems with different people in order to put together a group to accomplish her goals.

There are a lot of illustrations, although this is not a graphic novel.

The details about roller derby moves and competition are also interesting. This was a fun, quick read for students who want more details about how to skate for roller derby than are provided in Jamieson's Roller Girls.
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