Roller Derby Rivals

Written by Matt Collins (illus.) Sue Macy
Review by Arleigh Johnson

The history of Women’s Roller Derby is explored in this inspiring children’s picture book aimed at grades 2-4. True sports legends, Midge “Toughie” Brasuhn and Gerry “Glamour” Murray, are pitted against one another in the 1948 New York versus Brooklyn televised game. Women during this time were leaving their wartime pursuits, when they’d worked in male- dominated fields, returning to homemaking and child rearing. Roller Derby made watching televised indoor sports popular among both genders and gave women at least one platform to feel liberated.

One insight into sports marketing shows the Derby founder, Leo Seltzer, capitalizing on Midge’s “Tough” reputation, and in fact, inventing it for gain. The characters appear throughout the book to be rivals, but in the end it is revealed that they are friends outside the arena and aware of the roles they play on television.

The illustrations have an Americana feel, and at first seem too modern for the time period because of the players’ uniforms, but they are accurate when compared to photographs of similar events. This is a nicely themed story that will appeal to young readers who are sports fans. The author has included an Author’s Note, Timeline, and Resources.