All's Faire in Middle School

Book review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
All's Faire in Middle School Book Poster Image
Fun graphic novel about Ren Faire girl has great messages.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Some Elizabethan language, especially long-winded and silly insults. A couple of words and phrases in Spanish.

Positive Messages

Part of growing up is understanding that you're not the center of the universe, and that to be a good friend, family member, and part of a community means thinking about others' feelings and how your words and actions affect them. When you hurt someone, it's not enough to be sorry; you have to make amends. It's hard not to worry about fitting in, but ask yourself whether it's worth it if you have to give up what you love and care about the most.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Imogene is a good model for helping her family, being a good sport, being brave even when terrified, and being willing to work hard to achieve her dream. She learns the value of money by earning her own and choosing how to spend it. She makes mistakes and needs help to learn from them, but her heart's in the right place and she figures out how to follow the advice she's given. Friend Anita is a great model for doing what you love, what you're good at, and what interests you without worrying about fitting in with the crowd. Imogene's guided by kind, loving parents and other adults. Her parents provide effective consequences for her mistakes. Even her gruff, strict science teacher has a valuable lesson, if Imogene can open her mind to receive it.

Violence

A few illustrations of bullying, including kicking a rolling backpack over, giving "noogies," and throwing food at someone. Some queen bee-type bullying in a group of sixth-grade girls. Depictions of Renaissance Faire swordplay. A circle of middle schoolers pictured in the distance chanting "Fight! Fight! Fight!" Imogene accidentally kicks someone in the face struggling to get away; the girl she has kicked says "Ow," but there's no further mention of the incident.

Sex

A few illustrations of people kissing, including one of a middle school couple in the hallway. Middle school girls read part of a romance novel out loud about untying a bikini top and caressing. Imogene reads a passage on her own about taking a halter top off. Imogene's starting to notice feelings of attraction and is confused by them because she still thinks sexy stuff is kind of gross. She writes the word "sex" in her journal and then scribbles over it so it can't be seen anymore. Imogene's mom offers to have "the talk," and says she's available if Imogene has questions; Imogene isn't ready and quickly walks away. Some mildly flirtatious interactions with a boy at school. Mention of a past childhood crush on a much older boy, and some mild jealous reactions to his new girlfriend.

Language

An adult uses "damn" twice. Some name calling in Elizabethan language from Renaissance Faire actors in good-natured fun. Bodily function humor mentions farts, "number two," "poop," and smelly armpits.

Consumerism

Imogene explores fitting in at school by trying to get the "right" clothes and a certain (fictional) brand of shoes. She notices big lifestyle differences between her own low- to moderate-income family and her wealthy new school friend. She gets over her dislike of the thrift store when she sees how much further her money goes there than at the mall, but is later humiliated when her group of friends notices her clothes are secondhand.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Mention that mead is available at the Renaissance Faire. An adult with a headache and noise sensitivity the morning after a party. An adult couple at the fair tell their child they're going to get beer while he participates in an activity.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that All's Faire in Middle School is the second graphic novel by Victoria Jamieson, who received a Newbery Honor for Roller Girl. It's about a girl who's been homeschooled all her life but decides to go to public school for sixth grade. Themes include friendship, family, how to handle your emotions, fitting in, and how to make amends when you make mistakes. There are a couple of uses of "damn" and some body function humor about farts and smells. A few illustrations show people kissing, including a middle school couple in a hallway. Bullying is shown: a rolling backpack being kicked over, food being thrown, and some hostile "queen bee" behavior. Imogene is a great role model for working toward goals, learning how to manage money, making amends when she hurts others, and learning how to handle people who try to bring you down.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 7 and 9 year old Written bypixiechixs November 12, 2017

Have you had the talk?

Overall this is a great graphic novel. HOWEVER, if you haven’t had the birds and the bees talk yet.... you might want to pass on this until your kids are older.... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old December 9, 2017

Great book

This book is the story of Imogene who is entering middle school for the first time. She tries hard to fit in and make friends but the group of girls who she mak... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old January 10, 2018

An Entertaining Graphic Novel With Positive Messages

I am not really into graphic novels but I found good reviews for this book so I decided to read it. Parents should know that there are several incidents of bull... Continue reading

What's the story?

In ALL'S FAIRE IN MIDDLE SCHOOL, Imogene has spent her entire life around a Florida Renaissance Faire, where her parents work during fair season and where she's been homeschooled while helping her mom and dad at the fair. This year she really hopes to join the cast as a squire to her father, who plays a knight at the fair. She also decides that going to public school for sixth grade will be a good way to put her training in chivalry into practice -- and is she right. But figuring out how to be brave, kind, and honorable amid new friends, mean teachers, homework, and a pesky little brother won't be easy.

Is it any good?

Victoria Jamieson's second graphic novel for big kids and tweens is another winner. All's Faire in Middle School is a lively, colorful, fun, and funny look at learning the ropes of middle school as well as a fascinating peek behind the scenes of a Renaissance Faire. Jamieson's illustrations affectionately add an intriguing and charming Elizabethan-fantasy element (there be dragons!), and big kids and tweens will really relate to Imogene as she struggles to figure out how to navigate a big, new world, and her own big, new emotions.

Surrounded by loving and supportive adults to guide her, Imogene is a great role model for being helpful, learning from her mistakes (she makes plenty), understanding the real value of friendship and family, and, ultimately, learning how to handle people who try to bring you down with grace and humor. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how All's Faire in Middle School shows different kinds of bullying. Have you seen that kind of thing at your school, or experienced it yourself? What happened? Does Imogene handle it well?

  • Lots of books, TV shows, and movies portray middle school as a scary, terrible place. Is it really that bad? What's scary about it? What do you, or did you, look forward to about it?

  • How important is fitting in? Why? Is there anything you'd be willing to give up if it meant you could fit in more at school?

Book details

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