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Review of All’s Faire in Middle School

All’s Faire in Middle School
by Victoria Jamieson; illus. by the author
Intermediate, Middle School    Dial    248 pp.
9/17    978-0-525-42998-2    $20.99
Paper ed.  978-0-525-42999-9    $12.99

Roller Girl (rev. 3/15) meets the Ren Faire in Jamieson’s new read-alike graphic novel. After years of homeschooling, Imogene Vega, a squire-in-training at the Florida Renaissance Faire where her family works seasonally, starts middle school. Embarrassingly hilarious and tragic moments ensue, involving name-brand clothing and knockoffs, sexy romance novels, frenemies, maybe-crushes, retellings of “Saint George and the Dragon,” and a stuffed squirrel. Between classmates, teachers, parents, and Imogene’s vibrant extended “faire-mily,” nobody seems to get how hard it is to be a sixth-grader in transition (until they do). Imogene is reflected with depth as she manages her anxiety and grows to better understand her family’s precarious finances as well as microaggressions endured by her Latino father at the Faire and at his retail job. Roller-coaster moments stem from relatable, everyday adolescent experiences, always with a sense of high stakes. There is just enough commitment to the Renaissance theme to bring it to life without alienating those unfamiliar with Elizabethan English or other “rennie” references. The illustrations, loose, energetic, and expressive, let plot and characterization shine. Each chapter starts with third-person narration, presented within decorative borders featuring shields, dragons, and other illuminations; it’s as if Imogene’s story is a Renaissance tale itself — an experience complete with tension, laughter, anticipation, heartbreak, and delight.

From the November/December 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Elisa Gall

Elisa Gall is the Youth Collection Development Librarian at the Deerfield Public Library in Illinois.

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