Saturday, July 8, 2017
Arc Review: All's Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson
All's Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson. 248 p. Dial Books for Young Readers/ Penguin Young Readers Group, September 5, 2017. 9780525429999. (Review from arc courtesy of publisher.)
Twelve-year-old Imogene (Impy) grew up with the actors at a weekend Renaissance Fair as her extended family. She has been homeschooled all her life, but has decided to try middle school. Her family does not have a lot of money; they live in a rundown apartment complex but they are close-knit. She isn't aware of all the latest trends and fashion. She frankly doesn't care. She's very psyched to be promoted to role-playing a squire at the fair. She's realistically anxious about starting middle school.
While she is befriended rather quickly by a trio of girls, led by mean-girl Mika, she notes the hierarchy. She is relieved to be asked by Mika to sit with her at lunch but she's a bit cowed by everything and unwilling to share her Ren-fair life with the kids at school.
As she did in her debut, Newbery Honor-winning graphic novel, Roller Girl, Jamieson nails tween life in all its gloriously weird permutations. Impy is EveryGirl but wholly unique in that she's immersed in the world of the Renaissance and role-playing. Her family is loving and supportive even though her little brother drives her crazy.
She loses herself a bit in her efforts to navigate the shifting landscape and things come crashing down on her in a realistic way. The problems are also resolved slowly and realistically.
Not all the art was finished in the arc, but what was there is energetic and colorful, with a variety of panel sizes. Each chapter is decorated as an illuminated manuscript reminding readers how immersed in all things Renaissance Impy is, how important it is in her life and how it helps her navigate the "real" world. Even though this was the arc, the page stock was nice and heavy.
I cannot wait to see the finished book come September and have ordered multiple copies for Jamieson's many fans. My three copies of Roller Girl do not spend much time on the shelf and I anticipate that All's Faire in Middle School won't either. I am so thrilled to have another graphic novel with a female main character. What I really loved about checking out Roller Girl since it pubbed is that it is equally loved by boys as well as girls. I anticipate the same with All's Faire in Middle School. I also anticipate a spiked interest in Renaissance Fairs. I think I might check out our local one that runs in the fall and found myself feeling a bit nostalgic about Medieval Times. I might check that out again.