Book review: Kenzie Kickstarts a Team, by Kit Rosewater, illustrated by Sophie Escabasse

Rosewater, Kit. Kenzie Kickstarts a Team. Illustrated by Sophie Escabasse. (Derby Daredevils series, book 1). Amulet Books. 2020. $14.99. 150p. 9781419740794. ARC.

Fifth graders Kenzie (aka Kenzilla) and her best friend Shelly (aka Bomb Shell) have dreamed of roller derby superstardom for years. So when Austin’s city league announces a brand-new junior league, the dynamic duo is ready! There’s only one problem: In order to guarantee they’ll skate on the same team, they’ll have to find three more girls to try out with – in a week. But as Shelly bonds with the new team members, Kenzie starts to feel the dynamic duo has been threatened – and things only get worse when Shelly recruits Bree, Kenzie’s super-cute neighbor and crush.

The first book in author Kit Rosewater’s new series about the roller derby Daredevils, Kenzie Kickstarts a Team releases in March and is an absolute delight from start to finish. Kenzie’s struggles with friendships, first crushes, and team dynamics will feel familiar to pretty much any reader over the age of 8. Kenzie and Shelly present as white, as does one other member of their team (Jules); Bree is Black and Tomoko is Asian.

All told, Rosewater’s debut is a solid one, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for this series. Great for fans of highly-illustrated series like Clementine or The Major Eights who’ve outgrown these titles and are looking for the next step up, as well as readers who loved Victoria Jamieson’s Roller Girl. Highly recommended.

-Kate Frick, Darien Library


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