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Kenzie Kickstarts a Team

(The Derby Daredevils #1)

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  237 ratings  ·  84 reviews
A highly illustrated middle-grade series that celebrates new friendships, first crushes, and getting out of your comfort zone

Ever since they can remember, fifth-graders Kenzie (aka Kenzilla) and Shelly (aka Bomb Shell) have dreamed of becoming roller derby superstars. When Austin’s city league introduces a brand-new junior league, the dynamic duo celebrates! But they’ll ne
Hardcover, 170 pages
Published March 24th 2020 by Amulet Books
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Average rating 4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  237 ratings  ·  84 reviews

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Oct 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
All the shiny gold stars for an MG debut I LOVED because it hits the middle grade sweet spot in so many ways. I’m seriously excited about this book and getting it into the hands of young readers in March 2020.

This book is PERFECT for the younger middle grade crowd, and I was thrilled to hear that it’s the first book in a series. It’s highly illustrated (by the talented #sophieescabasse), it’s a reasonable length, and it’s mature enough that readers won’t feel like it’s a “little kid” book. Kenzi
Danika at The Lesbrary
Mar 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Middle grade roller derby series! The main character has a crush on another girl! Also, her dad is trans. This is adorable, and I can't wait for the next in the series to come out.

Full review at the Lesbrary.
4.5 stars!
What an awesome middle grade debut! This was a super fun illustrated story about two 10-year-old BFFs, Shelly and Kenzie, who are trying to put together a roller derby team. They need three more girls, but that's easier said than done.

Complications ensue when jealousy comes up in their friendship, disagreements about who are the best candidates, and Kenzie's just discovered crush on Bree, who Shelly wants for the team. (I highly identify with her crush strategy, which is avoid talking
Aiden Thomas
Mar 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
FRIENDS! i just finished this WONDERFUL MG debut by Kit Rosewater and i ADORE IT!

- a diverse cast of characters!
- f/f first crush!
- girls kicking ass!
- casual queerness (FEAT. A TRANS DAD!)

seriously this book is SO SWEET and SO MUCH FUN!

the Casual Queerness was definitely my favorite part, but this is also a great book about empowering girls, and learning how to share your best friend (WHICH IS SO HARD). this is a fantastic book for MG and HIGHLY recommend it for sporty
The Nerd Daily
Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Mimi Koehler

What do you get if you pick up a copy?

- Girls supporting girls and standing up for themselves!
- Stereotypes like “girls can’t play basketball” or “girls are too weak to play derby” are kicked in the butt in this book!
- The most diverse and awesome group of friends you could ask for
- There is a quiz on Kit’s website where you can find out which of the Daredevils you are most like!


If I had to summarise this book in one word, it
Mar 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Loved, loved, loved this fun middle-grade read from debut author Kit Rosewater. This book features tough, caring girls and a diverse cast and is a perfect read for adventure-loving kids. These roller derby girls are some of the coolest (and yet super relatable) kids I've seen in kidlit. ...more
Rosewater’s fun, sporty, and eminently relatable debut kicks off the wonderfully illustrated Derby Daredevils series with a bang, or should I say a Bomb Shell? That’s the derby name for Shelly, who together with Kenzie (that’s Kenzilla to you) dreams of becoming a roller derby superstar. But the only way the girls can guarantee getting to run together is if they try out as a team, and two girls does not a team make; getting another three on board is going to be key if they’re ever gonna have a s ...more
Jaclyn Hillis
Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was super cute and I’m excited to read the rest of the series!!
Eva B.
This was so cute!! It’s out of my age demographic but I’d definitely give it to a middle schooler, especially fans of Roller Girl. The discussions around friendship and friends growing apart were great, as was the casual queer rep, both with Kenzie and with her dad, who’s a trans man!
Nora Carpenter
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book. I don't high cap LOVE a lot of stories, but this one I really did. I read it out loud to my 8 yo and 5 yo sons and they loved it, too. They asked if we could order the next one (which we did.) Rosewater does an excellent job of introducing Derby in an easy-to-conceptualize way. The main character has both internal and external desires that are totally relatable for young kids. I also love that the MC has a trans dad and that this fact is dropped casually into the text and expl ...more
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I just finished reading an ARC of this utterly charming book and I can't recommend it more. Kit Rosewater's middle-grade voice is spot on, and will appeal to all sorts of readers, but most especially to reluctant readers, who will be encouraged by Sophie Escabasse's fun illustrations. Derby Daredevils is first and foremost, about friendship and teamwork. I loved seeing Kenzie struggle with her jealousy of her best friend Shelly's burgeoning friendship with brand new pal and team member Tomoko, a ...more
Laura Gardner
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loooooooved this 2020 MG from @kitrosewater and @abramskids ; pre-order it for sure! 5⭐️ ; comes out 3-24-20
With frequent B&W illustrations and coming in at exactly 150 pages I know this will be a hit with my reluctant readers. It’s also super fun (roller derby!!) and addresses friendship issues in a realistic way. LGBT characters are present, but not in an overt way. So so much to like here. Grades 2-6. 😊
#middleschoollibrary #library #librarian #futurereadylibs #iteachlibrary #booksta
Dana Middleton
May 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Kit Rosewater's debut, "Kenzie Kickstarts a Team," is an absolute delight! I loved Kenzie, Shelly and the gang, and going on the journey with them to become Derby Daredevils was just what I wanted and needed as a reader right now. A super kickstart to what is sure to be an amazing and enduring girl-power series. Just heard that Book 3 is already in the works. Yay! ...more
— nova
May 27, 2019 marked it as to-read
I’m all for more queer rep in middle grade books 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼 and this sounds adorable
May 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned, middle-grade
This middle grade book definitely skews toward the younger part of the range. There were a lot of things I appreciated about this book, including the friendships, the f/f crushing, and the casual trans representation. However, as someone who has played derby for nearly a decade, I was constantly irked by all the things about derby that weren't quite right, including safety guidelines (no test of safety before BRAND NEW skaters scrimmage!), game mechanics (yelling instead of whistles? jammers rel ...more
Jan 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
A really sweet and super inclusive story about an up-and-coming roller derby team. I love roller derby, but I think I would be a huge wuss playing! I also don't know what my derby name would be. Sam Smash? Smashy Sam? Something with Smash? :P ...more
Syntha Green
Sep 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: chapter-books
Great story of making friends
Ms. Yingling
Jan 03, 2020 rated it liked it
E ARC provided by Netgalley

Kenzie and her best friend Shelley love roller derby, a sport in which they are interested because Kenzie's mother is involved. They both hope to join a team when they are in high school, so are super excited to see that there are try outs for ages 10-14 teams at the warehouse in Austin, Texas where they have been skating. The only problem is that they really want to try out together, and find that the only way they can do this is to put together a team of five. They d
Kristin Lambert
Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I adored this first installment in the Derby Daredevils series! I intended to wait and read it with my 9-year-old, but once I got started, I couldn’t stop reading! I had to find out what happened with Kenzie, her best friend, and the junior roller derby team they were trying to put together! I adored the casual inclusivity of this story and its illustrations. The hints that Kenzie may be developing a crush, and her uncertainty about those feelings, rang so true to me and seemed just right for th ...more
This is one of the cutest middlegrades I've read in a while. It's a fast, fun read but it was poignant at times too, and it's just really adorable.

Rep: sapphic MC with a trans dad, side characters of colour
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Kenzie eats, sleeps, and breathes roller derby. Practicing feverishly alongside her best friend Shelly, the “Dynamic Duo” is on track for greatness when they become old enough to eventually join a team. In Kit Rosewater’s middle grade debut, THE DERBY DAREDEVILS: KENZIE KICKSTARTS A TEAM, their special bond is challenged when the duo must become a quintet in order to try out for the new junior derby league together. The first of the series, THE DERBY DAREDEVILS is an incredibly engaging and rela ...more
Ash Otterloo
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Review from an ARC I was lucky enough to snag!!!

McKenzie “Kenzilla” Ellington is an ambitious girl who’s struggling with a problem common to daydreamers: the cheering-crowd, BFF-centric tableaus in her head need some serious updating as she grows into her next phase of life.

Her lifelong dream—skating in the roller derby rink like her mom—is suddenly within reach when a new junior league is created her home city, Austin. But this new adventure means stretching some outgrown ideals, like competin
NOTE: I received an ARC via the publisher and Book Portage, a book sharing group in exchange for my honest review.

Kenzie Kickstarts a Team is a charming middle grade novel. Kenzie and her BFF Shelly have been looking forward to joining the roller derby league for years, but as the time draws near, they find out to be able to play together, they need to pull together a team. As they connect with others, Kenzie becomes worried her friendship with Shelly is changing. The girls struggle to assemble
Oct 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received this book as an ARC and think it will appeal to a wide variety of readers!
The characters were diverse and were unique in their own ways. There are so many middle grade issues that are addressed in this first novel of a series. Kenzie and Shelly have been a “dynamic duo” forever and when they want to try out for junior derby they must create a team of five in a week! This is where friendship issues, jealousy issues and personal issues arise. The characters are believable and the author
Shannon Doleski
Dec 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved this middle grade!!! Kids are going to love the fast-paced relatable content and illustrations. Great for reluctant readers!
This is cute! It did feel kind of slight, but that's probably just because it's very lower middle grade, aimed at a younger audience than the middle grade I'm accustomed to. Like, it's definitely not as complex, in-depth, or meaty as, say, Ashley Herring Blake's middle grades.

When the character of Tomoko first appeared, I did kind of feel like "hey white authors did you know it is possible for Asian characters to have personalities other than 'shy'" - but to be fair, Camila (who the illustration
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
First things first: This book is excellent. All the characters are unique and striking on their own, which makes their journey to become a derby team all the more enjoyable. What's more, even with five central characters, every one of them has some sort of character growth or obstacle to overcome, which is especially impressive for a debut novel. What's more, the book is infectiously passionate for its main plot, the roller derby team. As someone who has only ever casually observed derby, I was ...more
May 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: juvenile-fiction
The first thing I have to mention is that, after reading this book, my immediate question was where the illustrator had been hiding. Apparently, she's working on a graphic novel series, and I look forward to seeing that, based on the way she illustrated the characters in this book.
The second is that the writer created GREAT characters for this story, and told a very good story using them. 10-year-old girls figuring out a lot of things about their lives, including their friendships, likes, dislik
Brooklyn Cribdon (The Wild Library)
This was a super fun bridge between primary and middle grade fiction. I'd say it's ideal for advanced 8 year olds or 9-10 year olds. There's fair line spacing to assist early readers, as well as a handful of illustrations. The content is fun and lively while still addressing key topics for this age group: making new friends, learning how to be a 'good' friend, minor crushes, and being part of a team. Fast paced and will definitely appeal to some reluctant readers. I really like how the book incl ...more
I received an ARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Roller derby is tough. And, apparently, so is friendship.

Kenzie--AKA Kenzilla--wants nothing more than to be on a roller derby team like her mom. She and her best friend, Shelly--AKA Bombshell--practice whenever they can, waiting for the day they are old enough to join in the teen league. So they are ecstatic to learn that there is a new league, just for girls their age! There's just one problem: try-outs could mean
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The Derby Daredevils (3 books)
  • Shelly Struggles to Shine (The Derby Daredevils Book #2)
  • Tomoko Takes the Lead (The Derby Daredevils Book #3)

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