Imogene has grown up in the middle of the Florida Renaissance Faire. Her parents have worked the Faire since she was a baby and she has waited year after year to finally reach the position of squire. She's going to be an actual cast member acting her role, maybe even joining in the joust or the human chess game.
Imogene has also arrived at the year when her parents have decided not to homeschool her and to send her to the local public middle school instead. Impy is excited. She also feels like she's wandering into the land of a lot of unknowns.
As school starts, Impy starts finding her way through the locker and the homework and the harder challenge of making friends and fitting in. Does she have on the right clothes? Is she saying the right things to the right people? It doesn't take long for her to make some friends and have the all-important table to join in the cafeteria at lunch time.
But this whole middle school thing is more complicated than she ever imagined. The peer pressure is tough to fight. Wearing the sammies, the popular shoes everyone owns, turns out to be a minefield. Little by little, Impy feels her real self being rocked by all the slights, the criticisms, the demand for fealty and conformity.
Beautifully told as the most royal of processions, Impy finds herself at court amidst the kings and queens and that's not at the Renaissance Faire. The Faire could be simpler but Impy's feelings of frustration, of not fitting in, of not understanding the rules of middle school send her feelings erupting high and wide. She finds herself alone beyond the moat having earned her parents' mistrust and her brother's anger.
What a warm and wonderful gift to any middle schooler who might feel as though he or she is the ONLY one who feels this way. How brilliantly validating to see your misery and confusion drawn and told in this regal arena.
Hand it to any middle schooler, especially the Queen Bees of the world, so everyone can see themselves in perspective and perhaps navigate the choppy waters with a bit more grace, hope and confidence that this too shall pass.
248 pages 9780525429982 Ages 10-13
Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com
Read alikes: Invisible Emmie; Smile by Raina Telgemeier; Popularity Papers by Amy Ignatow; Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm; Babymouse: Lights, Camera, Middle School by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm