It was the shoes. It was definitely the shoes. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Hold on to your footwear. I'll come back to this later.
Let's talk about All's Faire in Middle School, Victoria Jamieson's latest graphic novel. Florida Renaissance Faire, an annual festival celebrating that the customs, costumes, and crafts from 1600 England is the setting. Every autumn for eight weeks visitors are transported to the time of knights, dragons, feasts and jousts.This is eleven-year-old Imogene's world. Imogene, affectionately known as Impy, and her family thrive on being a part of this larger-than-life drama. Each year her mother manages “The Shoppe” and her father becomes evil knight Sir Hugo. She will finally become a cast member and serve as Hugo’s squire. While most of the work involves cleaning up after the horse, it has its engaging moments. During off season dad sells pool supplies. while Impy and her brother are homeschooled.
Things are about to change. This year Imogene decides on a new challenge: attend middle school. Leaving the familiar world of faire and family, she ventures off on the quest for education in public school.
She makes two fatale mistakes: one with her younger brother and one with a classmate. From her perspective, it appears that each one is impossible to completely recover from.
This book is honest, so painfully honest. No one is perfect: not Imogene, not the kids at school, not her family. They all make mistakes and struggle to learn, live, and forgive. The characters are spot on and Jamieson imbues each with a distinctive personality.
It is impossible for me to express how much I adore this book. Both the images and text work together to create storytelling magic. Copies of the book should be given as a gift to every youngster about to enter middle school. Not only will tweens learn about the Middle Ages and life in middle school, but they will also gain important insights into self acceptance.
Shoes, Shame, and Middle School Pain
Now, back to those shoes. Impy gets ready for her first big day at school with the purchase of a custom pair of boots from the Faire's Tannery. To her dismay, she discovers that her boots are not considered de rigueur with classmates. In order to be part of the crowd, she needs a pair of brand name shoes., the ones that "everyone" is wearing. After some difficult moments and serious negotiating with her mother, she finally gets a pair of the stylish footwear. The shoes are not her size, and are actually knock-offs. Imogene endures more humiliation when students pointedly remark on what they see as defects. From that point on, middle school experience only gets worse.
Oh, Victoria, how did you know? How did you caputre my middle school experience with such painful precision?
Resources: Creating Illuminated Letters
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