Rosie Rinkstar booksIn a roundabout way, I came to be sent copies of these indie-published paperbacks by the author. They turned out to be highly readable and enjoyable novels about a teen ice skater working her way up through the ranks, taking tests and entering competitions. Rosie Rinkstar started out life in a skating magazine, “iSKATE”, which ran from 2006-2011, and Janet Rosina West decided to continue her adventures in these novels, with one more to come in 2015.

What I particularly liked about these books as a series was the cast of characters – this can be quite narrow in books for young readers, even in the pony books which this book echoes (main character can’t afford all the posh things, comes up against ultra-competitive rivals who have everything brand new while she has to struggle, etc. – not a bad genre to echo, I hasten to add), but here we not only find Rosie, her very annoying younger sister, her contemporaries at school and in the skating world but also the guys who clean the ice rink, Rosie’s mum’s gay friends and Rosie’s Nan and her gang of friends from the sheltered housing, who are up for learning to ice skate and providing lots of support for Rosie in various ways. The books also cover, sensitively and not sensationally, issues around immigration, bullying, fostering and adoption and eating disorders – but not in a worthy way, just as part of what goes on in life, and the books are great fun!

In “Rosie Rinkstar” we get to meet the main cast of characters and find out all sorts of interesting facts about how the business of competitive skating works, with behind-the-scenes information and explanations that fit naturally into the plot. Rosie and her best friend Sergei are practising pairs work in secret, and a school project gives Rosie a new interest, while a pushy skate mum causes problems. I like the way in which we jump straight in, both in terms of the first scene and in terms of the bits of information we find out about Rosie and her family’s past. Her Nan is quickly an attractive character, but then it looks like she’s keeping something worrying from everyone.

In “Rosie Rinkstar: Aiming High”, Nan’s secret and Rosie and Sergei’s secret partnership are both out in the open. We learn more about the characters’ back stories and they become more three-dimensional. Rosie has to cope with a busy sideline – which is totally believeable because it’s supported plausibly enough by the other characters. It’s worth mentioning here that both male and female characters are presented as being able to be strong, creative, nurturing or  all three at the same time, which is refreshing and makes the books highly recommendable. Rosie comes up against a new club chairman and has to learn new skills in diplomacy, but her friends support her through the battles.

“Rosie Rinkstar: Making it Happen” displays more ambition, both on the part of Rosie and that of her author. We take on a different location and encounter more descriptive writing, but the warmth is still there, and the great range of characters. There’s a useful and interesting cyber-bullying theme which again is handled sensitively, with feelings being explored and group dynamics being portrayed. Rosie wishes she hadn’t come out of her shell and taken more of the centre stage, but she learns to handle those feelings and become more sociable. Hard work as well as talent is needed, but there are giggles along the way, and it’s an engaging read.

Overall, an attractive and entertaining series with a good heart and a good moral structure without being preachy or boring.

These books would suit Confident readers of chapter books who still like to have a few illustrations; people in the ice skating world or people who want to know more about it; readers from related genres such as pony book readers.

I’d like, with the blessing of the author, to pass these books along to another reader, so if you know a young reader who’d like to look at them, or you’re an adult reader of children’s books like me, drop me a note in the comments and I’ll do a prize draw if there’s more than one request.

You can find the Rosie Rinkstar novels on Amazon.