All’s Faire in Middle School: A Graphic Novel Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Imogene (Impy) is eleven years old and eager to start training as a squire at the Renaissance Faire where she works with her family. To set herself on this path to knighthood, Impy will need a quest to prove her bravery and she knows exactly what to do. What could be braver than facing public school after being homeschooled all of her life?

Impy thinks she has middle school figured out but it turns out it’s not easy to be a knight-in-training while also trying to make friends and fit in. Impy isn’t sure she’s found the right friends. She’s embarrassed by her thrift store clothes for the first time ever. Even her family’s small apartment and their unconventional lifestyle–things Impy has always loved–start to make her self-conscious.

Impy knows all about how to be a noble knight. She always thought being one herself would be simple until she starts to wonder if she might be more like the villainous dragon in All’s Faire in Middle School (2017) by Victoria Jamieson.

Find it on Bookshop.

Jamieson follows up her enormously successful Roller Girl with this standalone graphic novel about Impy and her unusual family.

All’s Faire in Middle School is a perfect blend of contemporary middle school challenges (Making new friends! Dealing with mean teachers!) and renaissance faire fun. Each chapter starts with a page designed like an illuminated manuscript complete with a drop cap and stained class style illustration. Impy’s story is related as an actual quest in all of its epic glory while the full color panels for Impy’s day-to-day show that being a heroic knight can sometimes be as simple as rescuing a brother’s lost toy.

Adventure, humor, and a winning attitude come together and help prove that kindness is the truest form of bravery for knights and middle school students!

Possible Pairings: Making Friends by Kristen Gudsnuk; Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham; Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke; The Popularity Papers by Amy Ignatow; All Summer Long¬†by Hope Larson, Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell; Past Perfect by Leila Sales; The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner; Smile by Raina Telgemeier; Allergic by Megan Wagner Lloyd, illustrated Michelle Mee Nutter; Audrey’s Magic Nine by Michelle Wright, illustrated by Courtney Huddleston and Tracy Bailey

Murder at Midnight: A Review

Murder at Midnight by AviTrouble is brewing in Pergamontio, Italy. The year is 1490 and a deadly plot to overthrow the king is unfolding. Papers demanding change have appeared all over the kingdom all magically the same. Magic is outlawed in Pergamontio, so surely Mangus the Magician must have something to do with this dangerous plot.

Except Mangus isn’t that kind of magician, at least he says so. Mangus’ new servant boy, Fabrizio, is certain his master really can do magic. But he’s also certain Mangus would never commit treason.

If Fabrizio can unravel the mystery and reveal the true traitor he might be able to clear his master’s name. And if Fabrizio can do that, maybe he can finally prove his worth to Mangus and earn the right to remain a part of the Magician’s household in Murder at Midnight (2009) by Avi.

Find it on Bookshop.

Murder at Midnight is the prequel to Avi’s earlier novel Midnight Magic.

Avi is a widely known and beloved writer. He writes in just about every genre and, throughout his career, has earned a kind of legendary status as an author. He doesn’t disappoint in this book that blends a clever mystery with humor and witty language.

This book is filled with amusing characters and clever language that is straightforward yet subtle enough to appeal to reluctant and avid readers alike. That said, the dynamic of Fabrizio as a servant–often genuflecting and apologizing to his betters–felt a little over the top, not in a bad way but just in an odd way.

Fabrizio might not be the quickest hero at the beginning of the story, but what he lacks in reasoning he more than makes up for in loyalty and ingenuity. Murder at Midnight is a quick, fun read. The period and setting are a good backdrop to the story but won’t distract any readers put off by historical settings. At the same time, without getting into specifics, the time period also plays a very key role in the story.

Possible Pairings: The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd, Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief by Wendelin Van Draanen, We Are Not Eaten by Yaks by C. Alexander London, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak