Fencing is Aliera’s life. Every day she goes to school then heads to fencing practice. She even fences on weekends when she’s not visiting her disabled cousin. Fencing makes her feel strong, and she’s good at it. She takes her fencing teacher’s lessons seriously, particularly the one that says to guard her heart. That’s why she resists when cute, popular Avery starts to show an interest in her. But since he’s her lab partner in school she can’t avoid him forever.
Foiled by Jane Yolen is cleverly put together to correspond to action in a fencing match. Each of the fencing moves has a corresponding part of the story to go with it. Mike Cavallaro does an excellent job of illustrating both Aliera’s gray colorblind world and the color she sees later, when the story takes a twist.
The story touches on lots of middle-school-aged worries, such as popularity, kissing for the first time, and dating. Be aware though: near the end of the novel it morphs from this storyline into a fantasy graphic novel. The tone changes then from using fencing as a metaphor for life relationships into actually using fencing skills for protection. It’s easy to see when this happens, as the drawings turn to color, but the switch may be confusing to some.
It seems as though this is the first in a series for the new storyline, and it could be fun to follow it along as the story continues to play out. Aliera is a strong female character who is not afraid to show her strength. Recommended for readers aged 9 to 12.