Astrid's mom is always dragging Astrid and her friend Nicole to "cultural" events, which they generally dislike, until she takes them to the roller derby. Astrid falls in love with it and wants to be just like her hero Rainbow Bite and when she sees an ad for roller derby camp, she thinks that would be the perfect way for her and Nicole to spend the summer. Nicole is not as taken with roller derby and is already attending a ballet camp with a girl who was mean to Astrid in elementary school. The split causes a rift in their friendship and roller derby camp is more difficult than she realized, which brings her down, until she begins writing secret letters to her hero, Rainbow Bite. Astrid also manages to make a new friend, Zoey, who is a bit different from her, but still a good friend. Through the summer before middle school, Astrid learns to embrace her differences, that friendship is hard, practice and dedication make you succeed, and that sometimes teamwork is more important than being the only star.
This is a graphic novel and the illustrations were wonderful as well as the text. There is a bit of language in this, but nothing terrible, but it is probably more of a 5th grade/ lower middle school read. The theme of perseverance and friendship make this worthy of a Newbery and I wish that they had a medal for illustration for older children's books because the bright and colorful illustrations, particularly of the roller derby women and girls are gorgeous. I definitely want to try more graphic novels like this one and I think this will be a Newbery that will appeal to girls that are a bit more tomboyish and athletic and it will appeal to reluctant readers. 4 cups of cocoa!