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Monday, April 15, 2013

Jane Yolen rocks -or- Curses Foiled Again

           So the sequel to Jane Yolen's graphic novel Foiled is out.  It is called Curses Foiled Again (2013, First Second Books) and here are ten reasons why you should read/buy it.

1.  It completes the story begun in Foiled (Well, sort of.  There is still room for the story to continue -- but it seems much more complete)Aliera Carstairs is a high school student who works hard, likes to read, and is passionate about fencing (sword fighting, not chain link and picket fences).  She has been taking lesson for years and is very good with a foil.  In the first book her mom was at a garage sale and bought her a fencing foil with a red jewel at the end of the hilt.  It turned out that the foil was enchanted and allowed her to see the faerie world all around her.  This led to some odd and otherworldly experiences and the discovery that her lab partner was a troll.   Now in the second book, we are drawn into the real conflict -- a save-the-world-from-utter-destruction kind of thing with plenty of close calls, plot twists, narrow escapes, and surprising revelations. Good stuff.

2.  Mike Cavallaro's illustrations are exciting and engaging.  The use of color to indicate the separation between the mundane wold and the faerie one is well handled.  The facial expressions are particularly well-rendered.

3.  The cover is a parody of the original poster for Star Wars, only instead of Luke Skywalker standing with his sword upraised and Princess Leia looking frightened at his feet, it is Aliera assuming the triumphant hero position, and her lab partner Avery looking frightened at her feet.

4.  Aliera looks like a normal college student, neither overly buff nor looking like a super heroic barbie doll.

5.  The good guys use their brains as least as much as their brawn.

6.  Unlike Foiled, the end of Curses, Foiled Again seems like it is a real ending (even though it leaves the possibility of a sequel open. )

7.  You will find yourselves rooting for Aliera in the final battle.

8.  There are relatively few graphic novels with strong female heroines in them -- support this one.

9.  Baba Yaga, the witch of Russian folklore, makes an appearance. 

10.  My high school freshman daughter liked it.  (and it would be good for males or female students.  I would say a really good fourth grade reader could handle it.  Otherwise 5th through high school with this one.)

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