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Victoria Jamieson’s fantastic new graphic novel, All’s Faire in Middle School, tells the tale of an eleven-year-old girl named Imogene (Impy, for short) who, after being homeschooled her whole life, is entering a public school for the first time.

Impy has grown up at the Renaissance Faire themed park in Florida where her father performs as a knight in jousting competitions and her mom runs a souvenir shop. Impy is finally old enough to work as a squire, an assistant to the knights, and even though some of her job is just shoveling up horse poop, she’s willing to do anything to how that she’s worthy of becoming a knight--her ultimate dream.

Impy knows that knights are required to be chivalrous, honest, and brave...all traits she will need as she starts public school, which is a very frightening quest indeed! The first time she goes into the lunchroom at her new public school, she realizes that everyone is sitting with people they’ve known since elementary school, and she doesn’t know anyone. Luckily, she finds a group of seemingly-nice girls and hits it off with them. But when she is invited to one girl’s house, which is actually a mansion, Impy starts to become aware of the differences between her new friends and herself. She begins to see her own appearance in a new light, as well as her family’s weird lifestyle, and their not-so-nice-and-rich apartment.

She also learns in middle school that everyone has a dragon inside. The girl who lives in a mansion starts to mock Impy for wearing different clothes and shoes than the other girls in their group. After Impy spends the money and time to buy a new outfit to fit in, her new friends start talking about how uncool it is for her to copy them. Then, Impy starts doing mean things just to fit in. After a difficult week at school, she gives into peer pressure and draws an unflattering picture of a girl named Anita who is considered the teacher’s pet. After one of Impy’s supposed ‘friends’ posts the picture all over the school, Anita sees the picture and is hurt, which makes Impy’s heart sink. Is Impy more of a dragon than a knight? Even though Impy doesn’t do the right thing, Ms. Jamieson makes Impy’s struggles relatable by showing us Impy’s insecurities and how they lead her to do things she regrets.

Overall, this was a great graphic novel and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves adventurous books filled with color and vitality. The humor in this book is never-ending, like when her family embarrasses her at school and when she talks back to her ‘friends.’ I also learned many life lessons from this book; it gives a lot of good tips and on how to let your inner knight shine through and tame your inner dragon. For example, choosing the right friends plays a big part, along with having the ability to determine whether they see you as a friend too. The book also teaches you about peer pressure and how to be cautious so a similar situation doesn’t happen to you. Ms. Jamieson does a great job showing that you should not be afraid to be different from others, even if fitting in might seem like the best choice sometimes. This book shows us, through Impy’s journey through middle school, that you should not just follow others to feel accepted and in place. Being unique lets your true inner light shine through.

All's Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson. Penguin Random House, 2017. Buy the book here and support Children's Art Foundation-Stone Soup in the process!

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  1. Nice review Sabrina! Adjusting to Middle school and fit in can be hard isn’t it? Lol. I will definitely buy this book for my middle aged school kids to read. So they all can find the “dragon” in them.

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