Curses! Foiled Again

Curses! Foiled AgainCurses! Foiled Again
By: Jane Yolen and Mike Cavallaro
Publisher: First Second
Format: Softcover, 6 x 8.5, 176 pages, Partial Color, $15.99
ISBN: 978-1-59643-619-0

Sequels make me nervous. Whether a film or a book they inevitably cause me to get paranoid, especially when they are written by a dear friend. And, if I didn’t pump-up-my-anxiety-driven-paranoia-enough my subconscious kept chiming in with, "And you know your dear friend will probably read your review!"

That said, "Hi, Jane! Friendship or not, I must admit that I like Curses! Foiled Again better than its predecessor (Foiled). Your writing of the Foiled series is like a fine wine."

Slightly older, but still maturing and sparring with her new identity as the Defender of the Seelie Court, Aliera Carstairs is back in action. Lots of action. The only problem is someone's following her: A troll.  

By light a human, by darkness a troll, Avery Castle will not leave Aliera alone. He just keeps following her. Everywhere. He even wants Aliera to believe that he is now on her side, that he is [insert Aliera's eye roll here] a troll out to exchange his previous bad-boy ways for good-guy charm and devotion.   

With so much on her mind, Aliera simply doesn't have time to listen to (or believe) Avery's newfound claims of allegiance. She's too busy figuring out what it means to see, to interact, and above all DEFEND both the human and the fairy worlds. It's a lot to handle for a teenager, even if she is possibly headed to a national-level fencing competition where only the strongest and most talented defenders will succeed.  

English Language Arts Elements of Story

Plot: Aliera Carstairs is back in action, and, this time around she's coming to terms with her new identity as the Defender of the Seelie Court. And as if that wasn't enough that annoying troll Avery Castle is following her . . . . Everywhere!

Setting: The overlap between the fairy and human worlds

Major Characters: Aliera Carstairs, Avery Castle, cousin Caroline, Baba Yaga, Aliera's fencing coach Chris, and, finally, a lot of trolls

Themes: Coming of Age, Identity, Friendship, Loyalty, Family, School, Leadership

Traditional and Contemporary Literary Pairing Suggestions: Jeff Smith's Bone series, William Golding's Lord of the Flies, S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders, Aesop's Fables, the original Grimm's Fairy Tales or any contemporary version of the original fairy tales, Kazu Kibuishi's Amulet series, Doug TenNapel's Cardboard, Jane Yolen and Rebecca Guay's The Last Dragon

Some Teaching Recommendations For Middle Level Readers

Suggested Alignment to the Common Core Standards:*
*Standard numbers correspond to the literal common core standards numbers, www.commoncorestandards.org

Key Ideas and Details
1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
2. Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
3. Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

Lesson Idea for Middle Level Readers:

Directions: Ask students to work individually or in groups and consider the Common Core Standards' emphasis on middle level Key Ideas and Details, especially in regards to the characters and their individual personalities in Curses! Foiled Again. The below graphic organizer will help you and your students organize your thoughts.  

Before they start and eventually share their graphic organizer ask each student to pick their three favorite characters from the story.



Character Name


Quotes / Decisions Made by this Character


3 Adjectives You Would Use to Describe this Character


Evidence for Your Adjectives (words or pictures)


2 Themes Related to this Character (with brief rationale)


How does this character interact with the other characters you selected?

















































After completing their Key Ideas and Details graphic organizer about Curses! Foiled Again ask students to find a new friend (if they worked in small groups they must choose someone else to talk to). With their new friend they can take time to review/think once more about their responses. Next, give students 10 minutes to share their thoughts with their new friend (5 minutes of sharing per student). Finally, ask for volunteers to share highlights from their conversations and/or decisions.

Katie Monnin, PhD, is an assistant professor of literacy at the University of North Florida and author of Teaching Graphic Novels: Practical Strategies for the Secondary ELA Classroom (2010) from Maupin House. To learn more about Teaching Graphic Novels or Katie Monnin, please go to this link: http://www.maupinhouse.com/monnin.php.