Posted in Fiction, Middle School, Tween Reads

Dorothy’s Derby Chronicles: Roller Derby, Wacky Grandmas, and Possibly, a Haunted Roller Rink

derby chroniclesDorothy’s Derby Chronicles: Rise of the Undead Redhead, by Meghan Dougherty (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2014). $6.99, ISBN: 9781402295355

Recommended for ages 10+

Dorothy and her younger sister, Sam, have been sent to live with their grandmother while her mother gets her life sorted out. The only thing is, Grandma isn’t your run-of-the-mill grandmother – she drives a hearse called Dead Betty, and wears distinctly un-grandmotherly clothes. All Dorothy wants to do is fade into the new school year, but Grandma – coupled with Dorothy’s clumsiness – make her a target for the local mean girl group, the Pom-Poms. Dorothy does make some new friends, though – she, Gigi, and Jade become a tight threesome, and somehow find themselves forming a roller derby team! Grandma – who used to be Shotgun Sally in her roller derby days – signs on as coach, and the girls have to recruit more team members before the big bout. And they also need to learn the rules of roller derby. And how to skate. The thing is, the rink they practice at may be haunted, and Dorothy is terrified that her mother – who’s forbidden roller skating – will somehow find out what’s going on. Can the girls pull it together and become a team?

Where was this series when I was a kid, watching late-night roller derby on off-network TV and hitting the roller rinks with my friends when I was in 8th grade? I love the fact that roller derby is starting to see a resurgence in media, and thrilled with this series, which is just too much fun. The author knows and loves her subject – Meghan Dougherty is a derby girl, and manages to give us a fun story about friendship and family, with a wonderfully unconventional and independent group of women, young and old. Alece Birnbach’s illustrations add to the fun, especially when Dougherty lets Birnbach’s pictures narrate the derby action! I really appreciated the nonfictional derby instruction in the book – there are rules and positions, folks! – and will work nicely with Common Core standards, so teachers, get this book on your reading lists for summer.

I can’t wait for the second book in the series, which I’ve already badgered the authors about on Twitter, and I’ll be making sure this book is on my library shelves when it publishes on July 1st. Get in on the action now, and check out the website, where kids can learn more about roller derby and the series’ characters.


I'm a mom, a children's librarian, bibliophile, and obsessive knitter. I'm a pop culture junkie and a proud nerd, and favorite reads usually fall into Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I review comics and graphic novels at WhatchaReading ( I'm also the co-founder of On Wednesdays We Wear Capes (, where I discuss pop culture and geek fandom from a female point of view.

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