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Foiled: A Graphic Novel about Fencing

June 10, 2011

You ever find a birthday present for someone, that’s such a perfect fit, you wonder why they don’t already have six copies of their own?

Lisa found me exactly such a present. Foiled is a graphic novel combining a story by Jane Yolen with illustrations by Mike Cavallero. Lisa gave me a copy for my birthday.

It is the story of a teenage girl who grew up in New York, went to a private school, and loves fencing more than anything else. Magic weaves through the story, set against the backdrop of some key New York landmarks, like Grand Central.

See what I mean? Absurdly perfect!

Maybe I identify with Aliera, the protagonist, a little. In high school, and for a bit in college, I definitely had the fierce desire to be good at fencing…. I was never as good as she was, though, beating everyone in her fencing practice and heading for nationals. I counted myself lucky, and a little surprised, when I won bouts.

I know I love New York city… I walk around, torn between wishing and believing that the city has more magic in it and more possibilities than can be seen with ordinary eyes.

Mike Cavallaro’s illustrations are fabulous, angular, but they have an interesting depth. The colors he chooses are interesting as well. At first, I thought the green-shaded grayscale had to do with wanting to echo the sword themes in color. I didn’t even catch on that Aliera was color blind. And then, well…

If you love fencing, or a good graphic novel with a bit of a magical tale— go read this!

I love this collaboration, and really hope there will be a sequel to Aliera’s tale by my next birthday!


For every book I read in 2011, I’m donating $1 to the New York Public Library.

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