Jamieson, Victoria. All’s Faire in Middle School. Dial, 2017. $20.99. 248p. ISBN 978-0-525-42998-2. Ages 10-13. P8Q8
The first graphic novel following this author’s Newbery Honor-winning Roller Girl deals with Imogen “Impy” Vega’s struggles in middle school after being homeschooled by immersion in Renaissance fair culture. Her parents focus on their participation in that world although her father has a job outside the fairs. During the 11-year-old girl’s early days at school she tries to understand how to make friends, dress, behave, and deal with an arrogant science teacher while she makes poor choices in all of these. Impy is a good-hearted person who has all the problems of her peers, including embarrassment about her father’s position as actor and her mother’s retail hut. The artwork uses medieval themes with faux illuminated manuscript beginning each chapter and borders using heraldic crests as well as dragons and bunnies.
Verdict: Throughout the book, Impy faces lessons—both academic and personal—with one of the best being her bad treatment of her young brother that she overcomes. Jamieson also communicates lessons from racist characters without being didactic. The large number of characters keeps the interest in all of Impy’s worlds—school, home, and the Renaissance fair. An enjoyable read.
January/February 2018 review by Nel Ward.
Jamieson, Victoria. All’s Faire in Middle School. Dial Books, 2017. $20.99. ISBN 9780525429982. 247 pages. Ages 9-12. P7 Q7
How do you fit in with your peers when you have never attended school? Imogene, or Impy for short, starts middle school after she has been homeschooled all her life. Her parents work at the Renaissance Faire. Impy has always loved her involvement in the Faire until she starts middle school. She tries to fit in by copying the popular kids and gets caught up in trying to impress them. She thinks she has finally fit in when a popular girl starts making fun of her. Impy feels bad about her involvement in hurting a friend’s feelings and in the end, she stands up to the popular girl and celebrates her friend who was bullied. This graphic novel is broken up into chapters, each chapter starting with a page that introduces the chapter. The illustrations reflect the Renaissance theme and shows that Impy is not dressed as well as the peers she is trying to fit in with. The graphic novel includes information about various Renaissance Faire’s around the country.
Verdict: This graphic novel accurately portrays the challenges middle schoolers face, while focusing on kindness, standing up for others, individuality, and being true to yourself. It emphasizes that kindness is the truest form of bravery. When we make a mistake, even if others don’t forgive us right away, we can work to make it right. Children will be able to relate to the characters in this graphic novel. I highly recommend it for elementary and middle school libraries.
June 2018 review by Tami Harris.