Friday, March 27, 2015
Louisa is just coming down from being at Camp Curtain Up (theater camp if you can't tell) with the other MTNs (musical theater nerds). As she and her parents pull into their driveway, they notice that the new family is moving in two doors down. Louisa notices that the kid looks about her age, and then suddenly she notices his tshirt. It's from the musical Mary Poppins! This is a very interesting development. After all, up until now, Louisa was the only MTN in her grade!
If Louisa only knew! Jack's dad's job wasn't the only reason they were moving to Cleveland. Jack had lost a job himself. He is a theater kid, and not too long ago he was cast in the musical The Big Apple. And not in a bit part either. He was super excited to be part of the cast...until the first rehearsal. Jack is going into 7th grade, and his voice was changing. The notes no longer came easily...and sometimes they didn't come at all. So Jack was no longer first choice for the role. Which obviously made leaving NYC a heck of a lot easier.
In this age of google, Louisa finds out about Jack pretty quickly. And seeing as they are in the same class at school, she figures they are pretty much meant to be friends since they have so much in common. But Jack is thinking about reinvention. It's pretty easy to be a theater kid and be a boy in NYC, but in Cleveland he figures his soccer skills will make his life easier than his singing and dancing skills.
Sometimes, however, it's hard to turn off what you really love. And when the community theater announces it's putting on one of Jack's favorite shows of all time, will he be able to resist the call of the stage (let alone Louisa's influence)?
This is a pitch perfect middle school story that's not simply about theater, but drills down into issues of family, friendship and being true to oneself. Keenan-Bolger and Wetherhead get the voices spot on without ever venturing into over-the-top Glee caricatures. The alternating voices go back and forth in time, but are never confusing, rather a great device for giving the back story in pieces instead of one big chunk. Fans of Federle will eat this up, as will fans of realistic fiction and musical theater.
Thursday, March 19, 2015
Unfortunately for Astrid, Nicole doesn't feel the same way. She'd rather go to dance camp than spend her summer skating. Astrid can't understand this, especially since prissy Rachel is going to be at dance camp too. The same Rachel who embarrassed Astrid back in first grade and had been giving her grief ever since.
Astrid goes through with Derby camp even without Nicole. She doesn't let her mom know that Nicole isn't going, even though it's Nicole's mom who is supposed to drive her home from camp! The first day is a disaster. Not only do all of the other girls look older and different, complete with dyed hair and piercings, but they all seem to know how to skate a whole lot better than Astrid does! Then there is the pain. Lots and lots of it. Add onto this the fact that Astrid has to walk all the way home in the blazing sun, and it turns out the Jr. Derby camp isn't going exactly as amazingly as she had imagined it.
Astrid's summer is filled with the ups and down as they can only be felt in the tween years. Keeping secrets, finding new friends, getting caught in a lie, and growing pains are all a part of Astrid's days at camp. Throw in some rainbow socks and Hugh Jackman voodoo dolls and the result is a graphic novel that hits the sweet spot for the 9-12 year old set. Filled with colorful and welcoming art, Roller Girl is certain to sit on the shelf for the same number of minutes as books by Telgemeier and Bell. Do yourself a favor and get multiple copies.