February 17, 2018

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All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson | SLJ Review

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redstarJAMIESON, Victoria. All’s Faire in Middle School. illus. by Victoria Jamieson. 248p. Dial. Sept. 2017. Tr $20.99. ISBN 9780525429982.

Gr 4-8 –Helping her parents with their jobs at the Renaissance Faire is all 11-year-old homeschooler Imogene “Impy” Vega has ever known. While working with her family is fun, she wants to go to middle school and meet kids her own age. Unfortunately, sheltered Impy is ill-equipped for the realities of draconian teachers, frenemies, and boys. Her new challenges begin to wear her down, and she struggles to develop empathy for others, even in the midst of adolescent angst. This utterly charming graphic novel rivals the author’s Newbery Award–winning debut title, Roller Girl. Whereas in the earlier book Jamieson subtly incorporated elements of realism (wrinkles, scuffs, and scrapes on the characters), here she has committed to a more unified cartoonlike look, with fewer details and sketchlike lines. The result is a slightly more polished work. Exaggerated character expressions add further to the appeal. This is a lengthy coming-of-age story that weaves in subplots involving Impy’s first real friend, her younger brother, and other cast members of the Faire. Tweens seeking a light read with a quick payoff will shy away, but those who enjoy weightier narratives will lose themselves in Jamieson’s world and appreciate the realistic life-goes-on conclusion. VERDICT  As heartfelt as it is gorgeous, this is a worthy addition to any middle grade graphic novel collection.–Matisse Mozer, County of Los Angeles Public Library

This review was published in the School Library Journal September 2017 issue.

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  1. Mandy Stallard says:

    After reading this review, I purchased two copies of this title for my school library (grades 3 – 5). I’m in an extremely conservative district; so conservative that the one swear word in Roller Girl was deemed offensive. I had a fifth grade student bring this book to me today showing me all the “inappropriate words.” I wish that these reviews were a little more specific in regards to content. Perhaps reviews could state “may not be appropriate for conservative schools,” or may only be appropriate for very mature fifth graders. I think 4th grade is too young for this book. I now have two copies of a book that I will not be able to check out.

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