When times get tough, just keep skating...
Ever since Dorothy joined the Slugs & Hisses Derby team, her life has been one adventure after another. Dorothy's onetime enemy Alex is now a friend, while her friend Jade keeps missing practices. Then the skating rink shuts down, and Dorothy's life becomes as jumbled as a derby jam. And that's not to mention the bizarre things happening to anyone who enters the rink (maybe it's haunted?)...
Can Dorothy restore order to the new life she's finally settling into, or will her world become a crazy mess she can't skate away from?
About the Author
Meghan Dougherty is a full-time PR consultant. In 2007 she joined the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls roller derby league. She lives in Colorado.
Alece Birnbach owned her own advertising agency before creating designs that appear on more than 100 products. Shelives in Colorado.
Read an Excerpt
The Woe of Jade Doe
By Meghan Dougherty, Karen Windness, Alece Birnbach
Sourcebooks, Inc.Copyright © 2015 Meghan Dougherty and Alece Birnbach
All rights reserved.
"You okay, Dorth?" Max asked, squeezing Dorothy's hand.
Dorothy stared into Max's chocolate-brown eyes. Words weren't coming. From the tip-top of her curly red hair down to her hand-me-down roller skates, Dorothy was buzzing with delight. She wasn't even twelve yet, and she had just been kissed! She had thought the night couldn't get any better after coaching her team, the Slugs 'n' Hisses, to a win at the Halloween championship bout. But here she was, hand in hand with the boy of her dreams.
Floating on a cloud of bliss, Dorothy was barely aware of the roller rink under her feet or her nearby team chanting, "I'm a roller derby girl. Derby, derby, roller, yeah!"
And there was another sound too, like a squeal — but not a happy squeal. More like a metallic screech, actually. And it was growing louder. Dorothy's gaze shot upward and her bliss vanished, replaced instead with heart-pounding terror.
Suddenly, everything and everyone in the dimly lit, outdated Galactic Skate was moving in slow motion. The dusty ceiling fans ticked as slowly as the second hand on a clock. The people in the stands lumbered toward the door like molasses on the faded, star-patterned carpet.
"Get off the floor!" Dorothy screamed. "Now!"
Her team stopped chanting and turned to look at her with puzzled faces.
"Frappit," Dorothy said, dropping Max's hand. She rocketed toward her team, her arms waving frantically above her head. "Move it!" A second later, time was in hyperdrive.
"You heard your coach!" Grandma Sally yelled. Her tight, fishnet stockings made Grandma's thighs look like a pair of misshapen waffles. Unaware that her sexy nun costume was riding up dangerously high, she hooked Jade by the arm and pulled her toward the bleachers.
"Ouch, Grandma! Easy," Jade complained, hopping on one foot. "My ankle, remember?"
The next few seconds were a blur of confusion with the clack and swoosh of skate wheels, the cries of "Run!" from the few remaining fans standing in the bleachers, and above it all, a metallic banshee shriek growing louder each second.
In the chaos, Dorothy realized she had lost track of Sam. Cold fingers of panic wrapped around Dorothy's throat and squeezed. Her nine-year-old sister had been there just a minute ago, chanting and celebrating with her team. Where was she now? In the frenzy, Dorothy slowed way down, carefully scanning the people running past the rundown refreshment area and blackened popcorn machine and the restrooms with the groovy guy-and-gal signage. No Sam.
Then it happened. With a bang like a gun going off, the chain that held the giant disco ball to the ceiling snapped. Dorothy turned and watched helplessly as the ball fell. Time slowed again. It was like a horror movie version of the Times Square countdown on New Year's Eve — a glittering ball of death was plummeting toward the floor, and there wasn't a single thing Dorothy or anyone could do to stop it.
"Sam!" she cried desperately, but all she heard in return were the screams of her terrified teammates and shattering glass.CHAPTER 2
Dorothy spun away just as a volley of mirror chips pelted her, painfully pricking the backs of her arms and legs.
From the bleachers, Dinah's thin arms waved spaghetti-like above her body. "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!" Dinah's small frame convulsed like a hummingbird that had just flown into a hornet's nest.
Lizzy clambered up the bleachers and shook the tiny girl by her shoulders. "Stop being illogical, Dinah! Everyone knows earth's atmosphere is composed of non-solid properties. The sky is most certainly not falling!"
Dinah was quiet for a full second before bursting from Lizzy's grip. "Alien attack! The aliens are attacking!"
"Calm yourself!" Grandma barked from the bottom of the bleachers across the rink from where Dorothy stood. "It was just that old disco ball coming off its chain." The room was nearly vacated, as she and the rest of her teammates drifted back to Grandma.
Dorothy turned her gaze to the ceiling just as a dark shadow whooshed over the broken chain, releasing a spray of sparks from the severed electrical cord. All of the hairs stood up on the back of her neck.
"Grandma!" she screeched, pointing a finger at the ceiling. "A ... A ..." Dorothy couldn't make the word "ghost" come out of her mouth.
"What is it, Dot?" Grandma asked, pushing through the other girls. "Are you hurt?" She turned Dorothy's shaking arm over in her hands, clucking her tongue like a protective mother hen. A mother hen in fishnet stockings and knee-high boots.
"Breathe, honey," she said, patting Dorothy's arm and letting it go. "I don't see anything here except a few scratches. You're not hurt."
"Well, I'm hurt," Jade said, falling heavily onto the bottom bleacher bench. She leaned forward and carefully tightened the white bandages that were looped around her swollen ankle. "Gigi pretty much ran me over, knocked the wind out of me, and left me for dead when the stampede started!"
"Wha ...?" Gigi said, propping a fist on her round hip. "I did not run you over. I never even bumped you. You sprained your own stupid ankle, remember?"
Jade narrowed her eyes. "This isn't about my stupid ankle," she hissed. "You just about knocked me over, dummy. I nearly fell."
"Just now?" Gigi asked, confused. "I wasn't anywhere near you. You're the dummy."
"Am not," Jade returned.
Grandma whipped around. "Eva! Venom! Quit fighting!"
Jade and Gigi just stared at her blankly.
"Oh dear. Did I just call you ..." Grandma's voice trailed off.
"Has anyone seen Samantha?" Dorothy squeaked.
Dorothy felt a light tap on her shoulder. "It's okay. I have her." Alex flashed her beauty-queen smile as Sam popped out from behind Alex's ruffly, pink-sequined skirt.
"You don't have to be a derby girl to move fast, you know," Sam said.
"Oh my gosh," Dorothy cried, pulling her little sister into her arms and squeezing her tight. After the big fight with Mom earlier that evening and the crash in Grandma's hearse, Dorothy had promised herself that she wouldn't let anything bad happen to Sam ever again. "I never would have forgiven myself if you had been ..."
Sam giggled. "Squashed by a gigantic disco ball?"
Dorothy sighed. "Yeah, that."
Dorothy gave Alex a nod. "Thank you. You saved the day. Again." Once the feared class bully, Alex had helped win the championship by jumping in as jammer in the final minutes and then had saved Dorothy's little sister.
Alex shrugged. "No problem." She unsnapped her helmet and shook out her shiny, blond ponytail. Then she placed the helmet on Sam's head. "Give the jammer helmet back to Jade for me, okay? I'm going to go. My dads are waiting for me outside." And with a flip of her ponytail, she was gone.
"Attention," called a thin, wavering voice over the PA system. "Get out of the building now! The curse of Eva Disaster is baaack!"
"Darn it, Pops!" yelled Uncle Enzo, who was now on the rink examining the imbedded mirror ball and broken, shattered wooden floor. "Get off that intercom, you ol' coot." His bushy salt-and-pepper mustache wiggled nervously like a caterpillar on a hot car hood.
Galactic Skate had been passed down from generation to generation, from Pops's dad to Pops and then to Max's Uncle Enzo, who ran it with the help of Max.
"She's baaaaack," Pops crowed in a high, thin voice. The intercom made an ear-piercing squeal before going silent.
Most of the disco ball was lodged solidly in the splintered wooden floor. Enzo's chubby face turned red, and he kicked the ball with his pointy leather shoe. A rainbow of hard plastic scales skittered across the skate rink, but the ball didn't move. Enzo said something under his breath and ran his hand over his greasy scalp.
"Pops is right about one thing," he said finally. "It ain't safe in here. Max!" he called. "Get these kids out of the building."
Max, Dorothy thought. She had forgotten all about him. Had she just left him standing under the disco ball?
"All right. You heard my uncle," Max said, rolling toward them from the other side of the rink. He caught Dorothy's glance briefly as he skated past, but there was no Max wink, no dimpled smile.
That kiss seems like a million years ago now, Dorothy thought.
Dorothy stared at the little brown curls at the back of Max's neck as he ushered the group past the bleachers, past the concessions area, and through the front door. Was he mad at her? She had left him standing under a ball of death after all. What kind of girlfriend does that? Then again, "girlfriend" probably wasn't the right word. It was just one kiss. What does a kiss mean anyway?
Outside, the autumn night had turned chilly. Dorothy shivered and wished she had thought to bring a coat. She held Sam close to her. The parking lot of Galactic Skate was nearly empty, with the last handful of families walking to their cars. The clouds had cleared again and a perfectly round Halloween moon shone down on the building, illuminating the mural on the side of the large, square building.
The mural showed three disco-era roller skaters whooshing fast as if on a track: a young Grandma Sally with a huge, red Afro, a tall woman with brown skin and curly, bobbed pigtails, and a thin Asian woman with long hair that rippled behind her like a black flag. The last woman's mouth was a gaping hole of missing brick, her expression frozen in a silent scream. Eva Disaster.
Dorothy wrapped Sam tighter in her arms and let her gaze drop from Eva's screaming mouth to Eva's skates, which were exactly like Dorothy's except with gold wheels instead of white ones. "Do you think the curse is real, Grandma?" Dorothy asked, as she shuffled next to her grandmother.
Grandma had known Eva before her death. She had even been there the night Eva died.
Pushing back the sleeves of her nun's habit, Grandma ran her fake fingernails through her short, spiky pink hair. "I'm not sure, Dot. But I think there's a good chance we pushed Eva a little too far tonight."
Almost everyone had found their families and their rides and gone home. There would be no party, no pizza, and no sleepover. No celebrating the biggest win of Dorothy's life. She felt like everything she had worked so hard to accomplish had just shattered into pieces like that stupid disco ball.
Two police cars raced into the parking lot, sirens blaring, and peeled to a stop at the curb by the front entrance.
"Just great," Grandma said, fishing a pair of dark sunglasses out of her purse. "What?" Grandma asked, glaring at Dorothy and Sam over the top of her glasses.
"Had enough cop time tonight?" Dorothy replied. Grandma had been at the police station dealing with speeding tickets most of the evening. She had missed most of the bout.
"Dot," Grandma said. "I've had enough cop time to last me the rest of my life."
"So they're not your boyfriends anymore, Grandma?" Sam asked.
"No, hon. Definitely not my boyfriends." Four policemen from two squad cars jumped out of their vehicles and ran into Galactic Skate.
Jade hobbled across the parking lot supported by her mom, Mrs. Song. "Nice helmet," Jade said, patting the top of Sam's head. "You guys need a ride?"
"Uh, yeah," Dorothy said. "Do you mind?" Grandma's car was sitting at the bottom of their driveway, the back bumper wrapped around a mailbox post. Dorothy felt horrible for wrecking the car, but Grandma had promised to be forgiving.
Jade's mom didn't answer. She was focused on the scene at the front entrance. Uncle Enzo was being interviewed by two police officers as a tall man in a brown suit made a big yellow X with police tape across the glass doors.
"Give me a moment," Jade's mom said, handing Jade off to Dorothy. "Be right back."
Dorothy watched as Mrs. Song smoothed her dark, shoulder-length hair and strutted confidently to Uncle Enzo. She unhooked her leather purse from her shoulder and produced a white business card. She placed the card in Enzo's palm, exchanged a few words with the man in the brown suit, smiled pleasantly, and returned to the group.
"All done," she said. "Now how about we escape this death trap?"
Grandma's shoulders stiffened. "Death trap?" she said. "My second home a death trap?"
"Uncle Enzo will fix it, won't he, Grandma?" Dorothy asked hopefully. Galactic Skate had started to feel like home to her too. A rundown home with carpet so gross that small children got stuck to it from time to time, but a home nonetheless.
Mrs. Song pressed a button on her keychain, unlocking a shiny, black SUV with the words "Song Real Estate" printed on the side.
"Don't get your hopes up," Mrs. Song said as they climbed into the truck, Dorothy and Jade in the back and Grandma in the front passenger seat. The interior smelled like new leather. "That inspector said Galactic Skate will be condemned and bulldozed before you can say 'public hazard.'"
Dorothy gasped. "But it can be fixed, can't it?"
Mrs. Song shrugged and looked in the rearview mirror. "Enzo has a few months. But that would take a miracle. And a lot of money."
"How much money?" Grandma asked, her hand on Mrs. Song's.
Mrs. Song pulled her hand away. "Seriously?"
"Dead serious," Grandma said, leaning toward Mrs. Song. "How much to fix Galactic Skate?"
"Okay, okay. Let me think," Mrs. Song said. She rubbed her chin as the engine idled. "Well, there are the rotting floorboards, the crumbling ceiling, the rodent problem ... "
Dorothy shuddered, remembering the mice in the basement storage room. She didn't want to meet them again.
"And don't forget about the ghost!" Sam said.
Dorothy's stomach lurched.
"Well," Mrs. Song said with a tinkling laugh that sounded like breaking glass, "you'll have to do your own ghost-busting, I think."
Dorothy shivered. She couldn't get the sound of that unearthly shriek out of her head, or the vision of that ghostly shadow whooshing across the ceiling.
After a few minutes of listening to the engine hum, Mrs. Song announced, "Fifteen."
"Fifteen dollars?" Sam asked. "We can do that. Right, Grandma?"
"Not fifteen dollars!" Mrs. Song laughed. "Fifteen thousand dollars! Minimum."
"Fifteen grand?" Grandma sucked air through her teeth. "You sure?"
Mrs. Song nodded. "Quite sure."
"Does Enzo have the money?" Jade asked.
Grandma shook her head. "No. Galactic Skate is bankrupt. Has been for a while."
Mrs. Song sighed. "Oh well. I do hope Mr. Enzo can find himself a good Realtor."
"Mom!" Jade groaned.
"Blossom, dear. It's time to face the facts. I have been very tolerant with you and your roller derby escapades, but Mommy cannot have you skating in a death trap."
"Can you please stop calling it a death trap?" Dorothy asked. Grandma's face was pale and gray. "It's just Galactic Skate, okay?"
"Garbage, garbauge," Mrs. Song said, shifting the SUV into drive. "Call it what you like. It's all trash. By Valentine's Day it won't be anything except an empty parking lot and a For Sale sign."
"Mom, please stop," Jade whined. "You're embarrassing me."
Dorothy balled her fingers into tight fists. "We aren't going to let Galactic Skate go without a fight. We'll find the money. We'll fix it. And we'll be skating here until ... until we're old like Grandma."
"Old?" Grandma said, sounding like herself again. "Who you callin' old?"
"She didn't mean it like that," Jade said. "She just means we'll follow in your footsteps. Right, Undead?"
Dorothy followed Grandma's gaze as she turned to look through the back window at the mural. The three painted skaters seemed to be staring back at them.
Grandma sighed softly. "I sincerely hope not."CHAPTER 3
"What are you smiling at, Mr. Pretty?" Dorothy asked. She thumped the penguin sticker on the front of her locker and the door popped open, school papers falling to the floor. It was Monday morning, and she was in a bad mood. She hadn't heard from Max since Saturday; Grandma was mad at her for wrecking the hearse; and thanks to an early-season snow shower, Dorothy had to walk to school instead of roller skate. And to make matters worse, her hair was now a big ball of damp, red frizz.
"Hey, Undead," Jade said, appearing behind Dorothy. "Trying out for clown club or something?"
Excerpted from The Woe of Jade Doe by Meghan Dougherty, Karen Windness, Alece Birnbach. Copyright © 2015 Meghan Dougherty and Alece Birnbach. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Perfect for your middle-grade reader, the Dorothy’s Derby Chronicles are packed with action, friendships, drama and plenty of fun. A falling disco ball at that roller rink puts everyone in danger, and the mystery is on. And just why is Jade now missing practice? Cute and clever, the story uses the backdrop of the roller rink for action and a mystery: with questions galore: could there be a ghost? Bits of the story reminded me of the circles and red herrings thrown up during a Scooby Doo episode, and were quite fun to read. With the friendship dynamics ever-changing we see ‘enemies’ becoming friends as they are learning compromise and negotiation, teamwork and a little bit about themselves. A bit longwinded and rambly in parts, an age appropriate reader shouldn’t find issue with those stutters in story progression, but overall I found the premise cute with age appropriate action and dramas. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.