Shelly Struggles to Shine (The Derby Daredevils, #2)
Now part of the official junior roller derby league, the Derby Daredevils are ready to compete in their first tournament. Kenzie writes new game plays. Bree works on her speed. Tomoko sharpens her blocking skills. And Jules fearlessly hip checks everyone in sight. But Shelly isn’t sure what she’s best at. In hopes of taking home the tournament’s Star Skater award, Shelly designs extra-special gear for the Daredevils. But not everything works as well as Shelly imagined, and she can’t get the team on board. Without the gear, how will Shelly shine on the track? With high-energy illustrations from Sophie Escabasse and lots of roller derby action, Book #2 in the series explores individuality while hitting home what it really means to be part of a team.
When the chance comes up to have a tournament with a team from out of town, Shelly strives to find a special way she can contribute to the team. When she thinks she has it figured out, the wardrobe she has created causes some problems and Shelly is left questioning herself and her role on the team again.
What I loved: The illustrations here are spot-on and the themes are perfect for older elementary readers, fitting with the fifth-grade main characters. It's nice to see a middle grade series that targets the younger side of middle grade readers, and this one is great. The descriptions of the sport and her team really come to life through the book, and I loved the scenes with Shelly's parents and her friends. Things don't always go smoothly, but it's great to see so many people having her back. The themes of finding your special thing and being part of a team are ones that will resonate with middle grade readers.
The sport is pretty unique and one you don't hear much about, and so this also helps the book to stand apart. The characters are also diverse and include some LGBTQ+ elements that are also really important representation in books. Altogether, this is a great cast and a story well-suited to the younger middle grade audience.
Final verdict: SHELLY STRUGGLES TO SHINE is a great continuation of the DERBY DAREDEVILS series with themes of finding your own special thing and being part of a team. Recommend for the younger middle grade audience who will find these themes particularly poignant.