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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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King Lear in graphic style

Guest reviewer, Rachel Glade, writes about King Lear: A Graphic Novel by Gareth Hinds from Candlewick Press. (Recommended for ages 12 and up.)

0763643432medA horrific tale of pride, betrayal and insanity, Shakespeare’s King Lear tells the tale of the downfall and the final rebirth of two disillusioned, excessively proud men. Seriously misunderstanding the meaning of love, both King Lear and Gloucester give everything they have to their cruel offspring and disown their only good children. After they are both completely ruined by their evil children, they finally open their eyes and see their mistakes; but it is too late for them to reverse their bad decisions.
In his surprisingly accurate rendition of King Lear in the form of a graphic novel, Gareth Hinds spins the complex tale with vivid illustrations and dialogue from the original Shakespeare play. The novel is engaging enough for teenage readers, yet stays true enough to Shakespeare’s masterpiece that scholars will not be upset by the unconventional remake. As a book for young adults, the original horror of the play is slightly toned down; yet the message against pride and superficial measures of love is still carried strongly throughout the novel.

0763643432int1Versatile in its audience, this book can be enjoyed by readers of any age and any knowledge of Shakespeare; whether a teenager looking for an introduction to Shakespeare or a seasoned Shakespeare reader who is interested in revisiting the story of King Lear in a new, playful style, anyone who reads it will absolutely love Hinds’ King Lear: A Graphic Novel. I give it my highest recommendation.

racheldsc_0031Rachel Glade is finishing up her senior year at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic High School in Fort Lauderdale. She is a National Merit Scholar Finalist 2010 and a College Board AP Scholar with Distinction. She plays the piano, dulcimer and sitar and has been featured in the Miami Herald, the South Florida Sun Sentinel’s Teen Link Magazine as well as Listen Magazine for her role in producing music for the book/CD, The Travel Adventures of Lilly P Badilly: Costa Rica. In the fall, she will attend The University of Pennsylvania as a Benjamin Franklin Scholar and plans to major in both physics and music.

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