Roller Derby Rivals

illus. by Matt Collins. 32p. Holiday House. 2014. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780823429233.
Gr 2–4—The lesser-known sport of roller derby is introduced in this informational picture book. Macy highlights the importance of television in the development of the game, even mentioning in her author's note that "While television coverage increased the popularity of Roller Derby, the Derby also helped establish television's appeal as an entertainment medium." The text begins by laying out the rules, and then focuses on a game that took place in December 1948, involving two well-known rivals: Gerry, the "glamour girl" crowd favorite, and Toughie, the opponent everyone loved to hate. At the end, however, readers learn that even though the two women appeared to be bitter rivals, it was all for show ("Every hero needs a villain./And every villain needs a worthy opponent."). The author recreates the excitement of the game with some success. Boldly illustrated spreads capture the time period realistically and work well with the text to highlight the main action points. Macy's enthusiasm for the topic comes through in the additional resources: a detailed author's note, a time line, and sources and resources that include film clips, books, websites, source notes and photos of Gerry and Toughie. Interest is going to be limited on this topic, but this book could be an excellent resource for those studying the time period or exploring the history of television. Because the appeal of roller derby continued well through the 1960s, students may enjoy discussing this book with family members who remember watching the sport on television.—Stephanie Farnlacher, Trace Crossings Elementary School, Hoover, AL
Macy recounts the real-life rivalry of Midge "Toughie" Brasuhn and the "glamour girl" Gerry Murray by depicting a televised 1948 Roller Derby event. After all the elbowing and smashing, a final spread reveals two respectful grins ("Every hero needs a villain. And every villain needs a worthy opponent"). Painterly, vintage-feeling art suits the setting. An author's note adds historical context. Reading list, timeline, websites.

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