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All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson

Written and illustrated by Victoria Jamieson
(Dial BYR; $20.99, Ages 8-12)


cover image for All's Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson


Starred Reviews – Kirkus, Publishers Weekly
A New York Times Editor’s Choice
An Autumn Kids’ Indie Next List top pick


Victoria Jamieson’s graphic novel, All’s Faire in Middle School, provides a much-needed glimpse into alternative lifestyles. Twelve-year-old Imogene has been homeschooled by parents who work at Florida’s Renaissance Faire. When Imogene starts public school for the first time, she faces a very different world than at the faire where she is a knight-in-training.

Each chapter begins with brief synopsis of the brave heroine’s plight, conveyed in somewhat Old English. With much of the book set at the faire, readers gain insight into this medieval reenactment where people choose which role to play. Imogene never wanted to be the princess, but she questions whether she is destined to be a knight—maybe she’s more like Cussie, the hermit. Sometimes, Imogene behaves like the dragon.

The story explores Imogene’s turbulent journey to self-discovery. This is a tale of acceptance, forgiveness, friends, and blossoming sexuality. Imogene is every preteen, learning what it takes to fit in at school. She is teased for wearing thrift-store clothes with the wrong shoes. Imogene’s family becomes an embarrassment to her when they show up still dressed in Elizabethan costume and think nothing of it. Before entering sixth-grade, Imogene hadn’t noticed her family was different and how this is viewed suspiciously.

As with Jamieson’s successful Newbery Honor Book Roller Girl, in All’s Faire, the protagonist is a tough girl struggling with prepubescent emotions. The love of Imogene’s family—including her “faire-mily”—is a constant. Even when at odds with her parents and brother, in the end, Imogene realizes that the bullies and popular kids at school are something to suffer in passing. Her philosophy of what’s important shifts—and that makes all the difference.

Imogene makes unkind choices, acting out against others because of her own frustration. Her journey to finding the right path is a realistically portrayed ongoing battle. In life, there are no easy answers. Family can embarrass us by just being themselves. We all make mistakes, yet, each day, we can choose which character we wish to play. The book concludes with an understanding that, if you believe there are happy endings in sixth-grade, then you haven’t attended middle school—a declaration which will resonate with readers everywhere.



  • Reviewed by Christine Van Zandt

Writer, editor, and owner of Write for Success





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candor_cover_final A wonderfully refreshing, entertaining, and important novel, Pam Bachorz’s Candor from Egmont, USA (available 9/22) is a great read for young adults and teens. A picturesque city in Florida, Candor attracts rich families who want to “straighten out” their teenagers. Everything in Candor is perfect, and everyone is happy and well-behaved. Only Oscar, whose father founded the city, knows the dirty truth: Candor’s inhabitants are brainwashed by subliminal messages. Oscar secretly helps kids escape the city, if they can pay him enough; but when he meets Nia, a beautiful and rebellious girl new to the town, Oscar can’t decide whether to keep her close to him, risking everything, or to help her escape the messages.

Reminiscent of Orwell’s 1984, Candor is a surprisingly deep piece of young adult fiction. Through a highly entertaining and thought-provoking plot, Bachorz discusses the dangers of conformity and the importance of individuality in an exciting way. The writing style is advanced but easily accessible, and comic relief throughout the book helps to soften the darker aspects of Candor. I thoroughly enjoyed it as a particularly stimulating, but light read. All teens should read this book! Editor’s Note: Please see below for a trailer.

mail-5Rachel Glade is a senior at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic High School in Fort Lauderdale. She has been named a 2010 PSAT National Merit Semifinalist and a College Board AP Scholar with Distinction. She plays the piano and sitar and has been featured in the Miami Herald and the South Florida Sun Sentinel’s Teen Link Magazine for her role in producing music for the book/CD, The Travel Adventures of Lilly P Badilly: Costa Rica. She plans to pursue a degree in both earth science and music and is particularly interested in geology and preserving our environment.

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