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Roller Skates (Lucinda Wyman #1)

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  3,255 Ratings  ·  201 Reviews
A Newbery Medal Winner!

Growing up in a well-to-do family with strict rules and routines can be tough for a ten-year-old girl who only wants to roller skate. But when Lucinda Wyman's parents go overseas on a trip to Italy and leave her behind in the care of Miss Peters and Miss Nettie in New York City, she suddenly gets all the freedom she wants! Lucinda zips around New Yo
Paperback, 186 pages
Published May 6th 1986 by Puffin Books (first published January 1st 1936)
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Gehayi No, it's written in third person (usually third person limited but occasionally veering to third person omniscient). And Lucinda, the ten-year-old…moreNo, it's written in third person (usually third person limited but occasionally veering to third person omniscient). And Lucinda, the ten-year-old protagonist, doesn't speak with a dialect. Sorry.(less)

Community Reviews

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Jan 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
To explain why I recently re-read Roller Skates, it is necessary to delve into my sometime strange reading habits. I have already mentioned the young adult books from my parents’ house that got burnt up in the fire. Prior to the blaze, I had been in the middle of carrying out one of my strange reading projects. To put it simply, one day I came home from law school, and decided to: 1) alphabetize all the young adult books in the guest room (at least 300 hundred books) and then 2) read them all, i ...more
Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore
When ten-year-old Lucinda Wyman becomes a ‘temporary orphan’ (her parents have had to travel to Italy for a year for her mother’s health), she finds a new sense of freedom. Now able to skate around New York as she likes, she goes about meeting and making friends with an interesting bunch of people, all from a very different social station ( a rag-and-bone-man, a fruit vendor, a musician, actors, and a journalist among them), people who she may not have possibly even met had she been living with ...more
Sep 07, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: newbery
I'd been looking forward to this, since I remembered it being a childhood favorite of Kathleen's. It was an enjoyable read, but I think it's one of the few Newberys that I feel like I would have enjoyed more if I'd read it first as a child. As an adult... some of it seems weird. I kept wondering if there was another book that came before, or something, because I felt like I was missing some information that the author thought I would have (like stuff about Lucinda's family). And the weird disjoi ...more
Apr 28, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ya
I saw this on the dollar rack at the Strand, remembered reading it something in the vicinity of 20 years ago, and picked it up. Hey, it won the Newbery Medal in 1937; it must be of at least reasonable quality. Fine. Then I reread it.

In the broadest sense, the story goes: "10-year-old Lucinda makes friends everywhere, often while roller skating, in the NYC of 189-." This seems fine on the surface--but then you get past the surface and find the endemic racism. I say "endemic" purposefully; this is
A good book is a good book. Doesn't matter who the intended audience is!

I read this as part of our "Read the Newberys Project" (up to 1937 now!), and wasn't disappointed at all. In fact, it was a great book to follow "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle", which I was thoroughly annoyed with. It's just fascinating to me how a good book draws me in, and the "target" age is totally meaningless.

It's interesting to me that in the Newbery lexicon, this follows "Caddie Woodlawn" and "Invincible Louisa" so clos
Jun 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
This was the 1937 Newbery Medal winner and it must have been a slow year for children's books being published. The book had potential but was boring. The main character is your typical precocious tomboy but she had no endearing qualities to make me really like her.
Tricia Douglas
A wonderful story about a little girl living in New York City around 1890. Her parents travel to Italy and Lucinda is left to live with Miss Peters and Miss Nettie, not horrible Aunt Emily. Lucinda more or less has the run of the neighborhood, meeting anyone and everyone she finds on the street. Her freedom is what allows the book to seemingly take us back to our own childhood. If only we could be free and creative like Lucinda. A very well-written Newbery from 1936.
Sarah B.
I can understand why this novel was so loved. Lucinda is a 10-year-old tomboy, who is given an enviable amount of freedom one year in the 1890s New York City while her parents travel abroad. Lucinda, who dislikes stuffy traditional girls, spends her free time exploring the city on her roller skates. She meets new people and comes up with great schemes -- one of which, endearingly, is to launch a puppet production of The Tempest. Despite her pollyannaism, it's easy to love Lucinda and her joyful ...more
mitchell k dwyer
Mar 28, 2008 rated it it was ok
I've read others' reviews and I'm so conflicted about this novel that I agree with the favorable reviews and the unfavorable reviews both. There is something to love here, in this story of a ten-year-old girl who refuses to let social boundaries interfere with her making friends with anyone she chooses. While largely annoying, her personality is also somewhat winning; despite myself, I couldn't help caring about her and her friends.

Yet so much of this story is a laborious read. Readers old enoug
Lauren Smith
Jun 01, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: newbery-awards
I picked this book up from my stack with full expectancy to be bored out of my mind. (I know – you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but it was pink…) I thought this would blow my tomboyish personality to madness. After reading it, though I wasn’t wowed by it, I did like it for what it was. There are many characters, some so colorful you wonder how realistic they actually are but anything can happen in New York. Lucinda is left to stay in the states while her stuck-up parents travel Italy and ...more
Colby Sharp
Dec 30, 2011 rated it liked it
1937 Newbery Medal

I can't figure out why I didn't like this book more.

2 Newbery Medals in one day..a #nerdbery first?

Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Newbery re-read. And one of the earliest Death by Newbery's. No real beginning, abrupt ending. But Lucinda's year basically along at age 10 in New York City in the 1890's is always fun and always fascinating. It is hard to believe the kind of freedom she had at 10, that kid's these days barely have at 16. And the people she meets, the friends she makes all feel real. And we get to see what minorities look like to someone of the day. Pleasant and interesting if not insightful. 3.5 of 5.
Jun 06, 2012 rated it did not like it
Had a very hard tome getting through this one. The main character, Lucinda, is likeable enough, but there just wasn't enough depth to make me care. I don't see this book resonating with young readers in this day and age. There are many literary references that only a reader as precocious as Lucinda would be able to grasp. She is 10 years old, but there are probably few 10-year-olds who would understand the many references to clothing, literature, culture, or the meanings of colloquial expression ...more
May 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: currently nobody
I sort of liked this book, since it appealed a bit to my love of old-fashioned settings in books, but it was by no means my favorite Newbery Medal book. I like the idyllic atmosphere of the book, but at times I found my interest in it fading. The protagonist, 10 year old Lucinda, is staying with some relatives(or family friends; I forget which)in New York, where she makes many friends, young and old alike. As nice as this storyline sounds, it tends to become repetitious, and I think the charact ...more
Jul 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: newbery
Wealthy, 10-year old Lucinda is “orphaned,” as she joyfully calls it, for a year with two spinster teachers while her parents travel to Italy for her mother’s health.

Right away, you know you’re not in 2014 anymore.

A bigger clue is that she is totally free to explore her environs—New York City of the 1890’s—on her beloved roller skates. Her guardians ask only that she leave them a note when she arrives home from school each mid-afternoon (also via skates), telling them where she thinks she’ll b
Aug 09, 2014 rated it liked it
I was delighted to open this book and find Lucinda pop exuberantly off the page. Then came the cab driver Patrick Gilligan, gentle Miss Nettie, Tony and his fruit stand, friendly Mr. Night Owl, and Uncle Earle with his twinkling eyes and fatherly affection. It was a wide-ranging, motley cast of characters who were lively and immediately likable. The stage was set and waiting. A hundred pages in, I was still waiting. The book ended while I was still wondering and waiting. Where was the plot? True ...more
Juli Anna
Jan 06, 2016 rated it liked it
Will I ever start another Newbery review with a sentiment other than, "I have mixed feelings about this one"? Probably not. This book has a couple of winning features: Lucinda is a star of a heroine, with her roller skates, "tantrums," and open, affectionate nature; the setting in 1890's Manhattan is truly a joy to read about; many of the (myriad) minor characters are engaging as well.

What this book lacks is plot restraint. I am all for kidlit that shies away from the traditional narrative curv
Benji Martin
Aug 14, 2014 rated it liked it
This book wasn’t an unpleasant read. At times it was really fun. It was just kind of random. Lucinda is a tomboy growing up in the late 19th century, which is a story that has been written again and again and again. (Caddie Woodlawn, which won the Newbery the year that Roller Skates was published immediately comes to mind). Instead of putting the tomboy on a farm this time, she grows in in New York City. Lucinda makes a lot of friends, in the city, and that’s basically the story. In order to giv ...more
Apr 19, 2015 rated it liked it
Charming window on 1890's New York.

Interesting behind the scenes, super-loud message that the ten year old heroine's childhood with her wealthy socialite parents, is close to abusive. THis is because she is both excessively controlled and neglected. And yet this abuse story is not told directly but, rather as the shadowy frame around a single year in Lucinda's life--the year her parents leave her with a school teacher and the teacher's sister, to go off to Italy. (Right there--how much can they
Dec 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: youth-ya
I read this as a child and loved it. I enjoyed reading it again. Set in NY in the 1890's. A young girl is left with one of her school teachers while her parents travel to Italy for her mother's health. She is a feisty, lovable character and enjoys the unusual freedom of life without servants and governess. She makes friends with everyone, and helps those she can. A sweet, old fashioned story.

Read it with the kids as part of our goal to read all the Newbery Award books. Very enjoyable. E said
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
I first read this in middle school in about 1974 and really enjoyed it. It was a glimpse into a totally unknown life for me: New York City in the 1890s, when little girls could safely walk (or skate) to school alone or spend the day in the park with another child friend, make adult friends and visit them, etc.
Lucinda lives a rather privileged existence, but she doesn't realise it, and it doesn't make her afraid to make friends with anyone from the policeman on the beat to the fruit-seller's son
Mar 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: newbery
I'm enjoying this book--smiling just thinking of it!

I love this beautiful story set in the long-ago safe environment of a city. I love how Lucinda knows what she wants--and so often, what is good and right for her. I love that she is able to be so incredibly independent--and how she negotiates with her supervising adults. I love how she loves and cares so deeply for those around her.

I really don't mind if this scenario was never reality. It's beautiful to live in Lucinda's world for a while--eve
Jenn Estepp
Just, no. Maybe if I'd read it as a kid, when I would maybe not be bothered by how twee and precocious Lucinda is. Maybe. But, as an adult reader, I kind of can't stand her. Or the way this story romanticizes poverty, seeing it as a lark for the progressive young white girl and all the people of other classes and ethnicities only exist to teach her lessons or giver her life meaning. And, once that lesson has been learned, they're free to just exit stage left in the most offhanded of ways. Blergh ...more
Oct 30, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: newbery, 2011, ya
I rarely hate a book, and have never given a 1 star review, but...Worst Newbery Award Book I've ever read. I struggled to make myself finish it, hoping some sort of plot twist would make it worthy... to no avail. I normally would just put a book aside if it didn't keep my interest (although I've only ever done this a total of 4 or 5 times in my life), but wanted to finish it since it was an award winner. There was not really much of an overlying story or plot. It was just day to day nonsense in ...more
May 31, 2011 rated it liked it
Although I really did enjoy reading this book, there are a few things about it that are still bothering me. First of all, who on earth is the person looking out the window at Lucinda during the introduction? Secondly, what did happen to her Princess - I'll say no more for those who haven't read it. Let's just say that I felt like that was never completely resolved. And, finally, it was difficult for me, after a pretty light-hearted read through the first 2/3 of the book, to have two pretty big t ...more
Nov 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed Roller Skates. I love the positive attitude and outgoing nature of Lucinda. Like my favorites Pollyanna and Anne of Green Gables she makes lots of friends and is very loyal. She is quick to help in whatever way she can. I also appreciate a book that causes me to expand my horizons. I ran to my bookshelves to find Thanatopsis (a really wonderful poem by William Cullen Bryant) and to re-read The Tempest. I was startled by the violent death of her friend the Princess and touched by ...more
Jul 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery-win
I really appreciated this author’s writing style. I found it very quirky and funny, and I thought she captured life through ten year-old Lucinda’s eyes quite well. And Lucinda was a very uniquely charming character to follow around. (She explains how addition sums are the best way to explain the word inevitable, for example.) (view spoiler) ...more
Oct 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: newberies
Better than many old-fashioned girls' "happy-go-lucky life" stories. If I was an unbiased reader, it would get three stars, but of course, none of us are, are we? If the whole thing was the diary entries, it would definitely have gotten the third star. The characters were just cardboard figures; no dimensions whatsoever, sometimes even lacking a first dimension. Still, it's classic fun from the days when 10-year-olds were allowed to skate around New York and talk to strangers by themselves (and ...more
Feb 21, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-to-the-kids
Cute, sweet story about a girl who spends a school year with her aunts while her parents are abroad. Rather like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm or Pollyanna until a very random and disturbing scene where the little girl discovers one of her adult friends murdered with a knife in her back and she is told to lie about finding the woman. But everything is ok after that. Strange.
Mar 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: newbery
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Children's Books: The Medal winner from 1937 - Roller Skates 15 58 May 04, 2017 09:27AM  
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Ruth Sawyer, was an American storyteller and a writer of fiction and non-fiction for children and adults. She may be best known as the author of Roller Skates, which won the 1937 Newbery Medal.
More about Ruth Sawyer...

Other Books in the Series

Lucinda Wyman (2 books)
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“She believed that friendships, to begin well, had to stand on mutual information and lots of it.” 1 likes
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