All's Faire in Middle School, a wonderful graphic novel about misfits, middle school and the middle ages
In 2016, Victoria Jamieson won the prestigious Newberry Honor Award for Roller Girl, a beautiful, moving, hilarious middle-grades graphic novel about friendship, girlhood and roller-derby; her 2017 followup All's Faire in Middle School will delight everyone who loved Roller Girl with a tale of Ren Faire, misfits, forgiveness and resilience.
Imogene is the homeschooled kid of two Renaissance Faire actors, and now that she's 11, she's graduating from working in her mom's Shoppe to helping her knight/dad out as his squire. As if that wasn't enough, she's also starting middle school, and, for the first time, she'll be around kids her own age all day, instead of her bratty brother and his stupid stuffed squirrel toy.
The story of how Imogene navigates the hard social realities of middle school friendship, the delight of being her best imagined self at Faire, and the class, race, and gender realities is told with all the delicacy and humor of Roller Girl. Imogene is at times the bully and at times the bullied, and her friendships are complicated, messy and ambivalent.
At the same time, this book is crammed with great humor and action: swordfights and foul-mouthed hermits; romance and mentorship. It's a celebration of misfits and a story about getting along with people without having to like them or even forgive them for their transgressions.
My 10 year old and I read this a chapter per night at bedtime, until we got to the back third of the book, then we just read it all in two sittings, because it was too good to put down.
After reading Roller Girl, we started going to derby together; now we're planning a trip to Faire when it opens this summer. Victoria Jamieson's graphic novels are gateway drugs to all the best nerdy hobbies.
All's Faire in Middle School [Victoria Jamieson/Dial Books]
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