First Second, 2010. 978-1596432796
Synopsis: Aliera Carstairs doesn’t fit in to any of the cliques at school: being a fencer doesn’t qualify her as a jock, she doesn’t look good in black so she can’t be a goth, her grades aren’t good enough to be a nerd, and she doesn’t like the preps. She is a talented fencer and her coach, Chris, thinks that she is good enough to go to nationals. Aliera has an Aunt Hannah and a cousin, Caroline, with whom she spends her Saturdays playing role-playing games after she is done with fencing practice. Aliera’s mother likes to frequent Salvo (Salvation Army) shops and estate sales looking for odd artifacts, and comes home one day with a weapon with a ruby on the handle from Aliera that she uses as a practice foil. She couldn’t care less about boys, being as the only ones that have looked at her have been the ones she defeated in fencing matches.
Then Aliera meets Avery Castle. Avery is gorgeous and girls are throwing themselves at him right and left. Avery also happens to be Aliera’s lab partner, which she dislikes, but she can’t put her finger on why. Aliera thinks she may be in love with him, but having been warned by Chris to protect her heart, she brushes it off…until Avery asks her on a date. Aliera agrees to the date and goes to Grand Central Station after fencing practice on Saturday. While she waits for Avery, she dons her fencing mask to protect herself from an attacking bird, and a world of fairies, trolls, and dragons explodes around her.
Why I picked it up: Since Jane Yolen is best known for her folktale literature, I was surprised to see that she had done a graphic novel – which was part of my reasoning for picking it up, aside from the fact that the art jumped out at me.
Why I finished it: Since Aliera is colorblind, the book is largely colored with shades of grey and white, which I thought was a nice touch. When she puts on her fencing mask in Grand Central Station, the pages explode with color. These bits of color stay with Aliera after she escapes with Avery and heads home after her disastrous first date. Each chapter is named for a fencing move, and the terminology Yolen uses in the fencing sequences is interesting and informative. Cavallaro’s art is somewhere between realistic and cartoonish, and the bits of color added in at the end of the story are a creative touch, now that Aliera and the reader knows about this alternate world behind her fencing mask. Foiled is evidently the first volume in a two volume story and I am excited to read the next one.
Other related materials: NERDS: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society by Michael Buckley; Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke; The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook by Eleanor Davis; Brain Camp by Susan Kim, Laurence Klavan, and Faith Erin Hicks; Ghostopolis by Doug Tennapel; Olympians series by George O’Connor