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Review: Curses! Foiled Agen

In our GC4K’s Book Club discussion of Foiled, much of the “complaint” was that the book was mostly a set-up for a future story.  But for those who read Foiled, and wanted to know more about Aliera’s world, then they’ll be happy to grab the next installment, because the story continued and it was a good one.

Curses! Foiled Again
By Jane Yolen. Art by Mike Cavallaro
First Second, $15.99
Ages 12+

The story opens by briefly giving the reader a crash course in what happened in the last volume. Aliera is a fencer. Her mom bought her a foil, a practice sword, for $2 at a tag sale. The foil is tacky. With a fake jewel. But as it turns out, the jewel is real and it makes Aliera Defender of Faerie. The cute guy in school is actually an ogre. And since Aliera saved his life, Avery is bound to Aliera. In this adventure, a meeting with Baba Yaga sets a new adventure in motion, where Aliera’s cousin Caroline is kidnapped and it’s up to Aliera to save her.

For readers looking for a light fantasy with a strong female character, this is the perfect title. Aliera is strong. She’s believable. She has a great rapport with the ogre, who is supposed to be evil but is now bound to her. He’s not even a scary looking ogre, and he’s quiet loyal to Aliera, but there’s much danger for the Keeper of the Faerie and now it’s hitting home, because her cousin Caroline, who is disabled and needs a wheelchair, has been kidnapped. It’s up to Aliera to save her.

Mike Cavallaro’s artwork makes this story come alive. Color is the first technique he uses to delineate between “real life” and the “faerie world.” The panels are very detailed and action-packed, making the fantasy world come alive as well as the characters.

For readers who enjoy a good fantasy with a spunky heroine, and for readers who want more—because the end seems to promise more—this is a good pick.

Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. Her collection is also the model for all middle school libraries in NYC. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library, and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 3 and regularly reviews for SLJ, LMC. In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.


  1. Hi Esther,

    Happy New Year! I just saw the August article about kids and comic books. I’d like to chime in here and offer another perspective. I have a website,, and have developed eight reading preference types for young readers. Readers can take a short 10 question assessment..What Kind of REading Superhero Are You.. here’s a link:
    They discover their “doorway” reading preference… what kinds of books will invite them into the world of reading. For 38% of our young readers it’s going to be something highly visual, action-packed, irreverent, humorous, thrilling. They LOVE graphic novels. They are WIRED to read graphic novels.
    I was working with a seasoned educator a week ago. Helping him find books for a project he had developed for 5th graders…most of whom are reluctant readers. He told me he had a student who hated school. This student told him that on the winter holidays he would sleep until noon, play video games all day, go to bed at 1:00am and then repeat. Educator very frustrated he could not reach this kid.
    I suggested we needed to JOLT this young person. Educator agreed. I went and gathered some books… DAY MY BUTT WENT PSYCHO, BIG NATE…. etc. Educator laughed at DAY MY BUTT WENT PSYCHO but took the book saying they would be doing a unit on humor… but when I showed him the BIG NATE book… his face changed… dismissive… said he wasn’t going there. And we wonder why this kid hates school? He hates school because it does not mirror him, connect to him, offer what HIS wiring diagram so desperately waits for.
    Thanks for all YOU are doing to advocate on behalf of graphic novels and comics. Some of our most talented children are waiting to see themselves…and thanks to you they have a chance.
    Happy New Year

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