Author: Olivia Bennett
Illustrator: Georgia Rucker
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Publication Date: September 1, 2010
Source: Publisher for review
A great read for the tween (and older) crowd, The Allegra Biscotti Collection finds the perfect balance of believable contemporary fiction with a dash of what if.
Eighth grader, Emma Rose loves fashion and creating amazing outfits. She even has her own “studio” tucked away in a corner of her father’s wholesale lace business. That studio is where an influential fashionista finds some of Emma’s designs. A few photos and a blog post later and Emma has the opportunity of a lifetime; a feature in her favorite fashion magazine. Instead of owning up to the designs, thinking that no one would believe they were created by a fourteen year old, Emma creates Allegra Biscotti - her secret designing identity.
Emma Rose is one of those characters you want to root for. As I was reading, I wanted good things to happen for her. Emma is passionate about fashion and designing, but she’s also a typical eighth grader worried about friends, a secret crush and getting all of her homework done. All of that makes her very relatable. Plus she sounds like a teen; the snappy, smart dialogue is very believable.
Overall, The Allegra Biscotti Collection was a fun book that will be a hit with tween readers.
The secondary characters shine as well. Emma’s friend Charlie, the only one who knows the truth about her secret identity, is the perfect sidekick. He’s supportive, comes up with crazy ideas, and is willing to help in any way possible. The Ivana-bees - we can all remember girls like these at our own middle or high schools - rather than make them all clones, Ms Bennett has given each of them their own distinct personalities and how they play off each other and Emma adds another layer to the story. And as an adult reader, I love that Emma’s parents were very present in her life.
I want to mention the format of the book as well. The illustrations that appear on almost every page are spot on. They look exactly like they are straight from Emma’s sketch books.