“Crash!” This book plunges us into the action with its first word. We follow Toughie Brasuhn and Gerry Murray’s roller derby rivalry as we read about one day’s match. We also get a glimpse of the way sports came to television. Sue Macy’s narrative voice is fast and engaging; her present tense third person narration could almost be a sports announcer’s voice giving us a blow by blow account.

In a picture book, the writer doesn’t have many words to get the reader involved at the story and to build the historical scaffolding. Macy gets around the difficulty of explaining the rules of the game by using an illustration on the first spread that has a crowd clustered around reading a poster titled “Roller Derby Rules, 1948.” With that out of the way, she plunges us into the match, into the rivalry, and into the engaging story.

Macy’s back matter includes period photos, an interesting discussion of how she went about researching the topic. It also includes a cautionary note about what parts of the book are dramatizations rather than strict historical fact.

Check out this great 2 minute trailer, narrated by Sue Macy and loaded with amazing period photos.

Roller Derby Rivals, by Sue Macy, illustrated by Matt Collins. Holiday House: 2014