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About the AuthorOlivia Bennet has had a passion for fashion since she was a young girl, putting together surprising outfits for the daily fashion show that took place in the school hallways. When not writing fashion-forward books for tweens, Olivia can be found hot-gluing and sewing amazing DIY projects. Olivia loves to mix-and-match…and then mix it up some more.
Definitely the faux-fur scarf. But not in teal…maybe an eggplant with silver flecks would work.
She quickly sketched the scarf onto the he...
Definitely the faux-fur scarf. But not in teal…maybe an eggplant with silver flecks would work.
She quickly sketched the scarf onto the heavy white paper. As her pencil danced across the page, the whole world faded away. At least for a minute or two.
She glanced up, scanning the breathing-room-only subway car. Person to person, outfit to outfit, her eyes jumped around like a robotic scanning device in a science-fiction movie. Colors, patterns, fabrics, textures, and shapes leaped out at her. Turquoise set against a rich chocolate brown. A collar the same acid-green color and gnarly texture of Oscar the Grouch. A perfectly cut A-line skirt that hit just the right place, where the thigh curves in slightly. Black over hot-pink tights. She never stopped at the faces. It wasn’t about the faces. It was all about the clothes.
Always had been.
She couldn’t always remember people’s names, but she could describe the outfit they were wearing when she met them—down to the shape of the buttons—without having to think for a single second. Her mother loved to tell about the time when she was three or four and said, “I want the baby-sitter with the violet halter top, the skirt that looks like it was made out of jeans, and the triangle heels on her shoes.” She loved wedges even before she knew what they were.
The sound of the doors snapping shut shook her from her daydreams. She only had two more stops to finish the Game. People jostled into the packed car, causing a man in a stained tan overcoat to roll his eyes with annoyance as he grasped the pole. She actually liked it when the subway car was crowded. The more people, the more outfits she could choose from for the Game.
The object of the Game was deceptively simple: Choose separate items of clothing from different people on the subway to create a fashion “wow.” Colors could be changed, and silhouettes altered a bit. The resulting outfit had to be one that she would wear—well, that is if she were going someplace more fabulous than middle school.
It was a game of skill and speed: She had to complete the challenge before the subway reached her stop. And at this time of the morning, the city’s resident fashionistas hadn’t even sipped their first lattes, much less stepped a stiletto onto the subway, which made scoring points that much harder. A burst of laughter drew her attention down the aisle. Three college-aged girls circled closely around the same silver pole, chatting loudly to one another as if they were at a party. The tallest of the three wore a military-like flack jacket.
Perfect! If she changed the drab green to a sleeker steel blue, it would totally work. Her pencil flew into overdrive. As she sketched, she slimmed the cut to create a more feminine, less bulky shape. All she needed now was a bottom of some kind to add to her halfdressed female figure.
The subway stopped, and the doors opened. People pushed out and more piled in, revealing a fresh batch of new fashion candidates. Suddenly, a college girl with a side ponytail leaped through the closing doors, just making it before they caught her in their unforgiving death grip. She wore the most fabulous pair of cherry-red patent leather boots.
They must be vintage, Emma thought. She could tell by their shape—low, boxy heels and squared-off toes—and their quality. The patent leather looked real, not fake and plasticky. True, they weren’t pants, but she could still make the boots work.
With seconds to spare, she added them to her sketch and then linked the jacket to the awesome boots with simple bold lines to stand in for basic black leggings.
She gazed at her newest creation. The outfit’s bold charcoal lines contrasted with the stark white of the paper. Later, she’d pull out her colored pencils and Pantone markers to fill in the lines according to the color notes she’d made in the margins. She’d fiddle a little more to make the outfit even better. Maybe make the scarf longer or the jacket skinnier or even stretch it out into a short dress.
The train jerked to a halt. Closing her sketchbook, this one bound in amethyst Chinese brocade, she tucked it safely into her bag.
The Game was over.
Time for school.
As a mother, I was surprised by how much I liked these books. The stories were very entertaining, but I actually liked the messages even more. Both books were very clean and while they did del...
As a mother, I was surprised by how much I liked these books. The stories were very entertaining, but I actually liked the messages even more. Both books were very clean and while they did delve a bit into crushes, it was all very sweet. At first I was worried because Emma and Charlie seemed to be creating a lot of stories (and lies...); however,Emma did eventually tell her parents about Allegra Biscotti's identity. I liked that Emma got punished for lying, but I really loved that her parents listened to her and supported her love of fashion. In addition, there were so many important messages about friendship and staying true to one's self. I don't think tween girls can hear either of those things too many times. --Booking Mama
“This novel features likeable characters, snappy dialog, and an entertaining plot. Many teens will relate to the subplots of the shifting friendships, new crushes, and attempts to outsmart adults. Sketches of outfits scattered throughout the book add to the fun... Younger teens, especially those interested in fashion, will enjoy this fun, fast-paced read.” - VOYA
“This one’s for fashionistas! When one of Emma Rose’s homemade designs is spotted by a fashion editor, Emma has to make up a secret identity as a sophisticated designer and finds that balancing school, boys and a glamorous career is a lot more complicated than she though (right, Miley?). ” - Pixie magazine
“Gr 5-8–This book manages to make the wildly implausible seem possible. When Emma, 14, becomes the hottest new fashion designer for the Voguelike Madison magazine, she does it through hard work and the help of an old hand. She’s given herself the nom de plume “Allegra Biscotti” to cover up that she’s the girl the editor met at her father’s lace warehouse. Emma comes off as a believable teen. She likes a boy who seems unattainable and disregards Charlie, her supportive friend and accomplice in deception. Holly, her other BFF, has become part of an in-crowd Emma has no desire to join. But the luscious descriptions of the clothes Emma imagines are the best aspect of the book. Tiny sketches accompany most of them and add charm to the pages. Trying to come up with three alluring new designs, the protagonist lets her grades slide, gets in trouble with her parents, and ends up enlisting the aid of the capable Marjorie, an office administrator who was a professional seamstress. Emma, Marjorie, and Charlie are well rounded... Kids interested in fashion are sure to become fans of the Allegra Biscotti collection.–Tina Zubak, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, ” - School Library Journal
This book speaks to the teenager hidden somewhere in me that still wants to be discovered and be a star. This story is exactly like a thousand fantasies I've had myself, and so I could do nothing but love it, love it, love it. Emma is in 8th grade in real life--albeit one with a lot of unique style--working part time at her father's lace warehouse, having a pretty normal life hanging out with her few quirky friends. But her secret life exists in a corner of the warehouse where she's set up her ancient sewing machine and her dumpster-dived dress forms. There she spends every spare minute and every spare dime creating the fashions of her dreams. And they are really, really, really good. At least the fashion editor that stumbles upon some of the works in progress thinks so. But Emma panics when the editor starts asking her questions about the designer and "poof", Allegra Biscotti is born. Then the wild ride begins as Emma becomes an undercover grownup trying to get a "collection" together for a photo shoot. Stress, hilarity, dreams and panic lead to a marvelous conclusion to the book, which is to be the first in the series. It's lots of fun and has me smiling still. Allegra can certainly count me in among her many fans!
“Emma, the affable protagonist of this effervescent series launch, faces familiar eighth-grade quandaries. Her best friend is cozying up to superficial popular girls, one of whom has Emma's crush in her sights. Her grades are plummeting, and her mother constantly nags her to study more. It's what Emma is focusing on rather than schoolwork that lifts the novel from being standard middle-grade fare. A talented fashion designer and seamstress, Emma spends after-school hours sketching and sewing at her father's lace company. When a high-profile fashion editor is captivated by Emma's designs, Emma, worried she won't be taken seriously, passes them off as the work of the fictitious Allegra Biscotti. The ruse quickly spins out of control: the editor touts Allegra as a designer to watch and insists that she create--on a tight deadline--three original designs to showcase in her magazine... Credible characterizations and dialogue keep the novel real. For Project Runway aspirants, Bennett slips in detailed descriptions of the teens' outfits and Emma's designs, which appear in spot art. Ages 8–12. (Nov.) ” - Publishers Weekly
““ALLEGRA BISCOTTI COLLECTION by Olivia Bennett; ages 9-11 is about a 14 yr old who becomes a fashion designer; Coco Chanel step aside!" The voice is perfect for projecting the personality of the main characters. I especially liked the personalities of the Ivana-bees! I remember those girls in school!” – Judith Lafitte, Octavia Books” -
“I love books like Allegra Biscotti and I think the packaging for this book is great. It looks contemporary, a little but not too grown up -- I think of it as the twixt and tween reader that grows up to read Candace Bushnell. The story seems read and the dialogue is chatty, crisp, really believable. Thanks for sharing with me and I'd love to see more!”
--Vicki Erwin, Main Street Books
““The wild adventures of Emma Rose will keep readers laughing. Young fashonistas will appreciate Emma’s keen eye for style, and might even inspire girls to try their own hand at design. Allegra Biscotti is a must for all Tween collections.”
--The CATS Meow (Baker & Taylor Newsletter) Rita Reale, Children’s Librarian
Length: 7.625 in
Width: 5.125 in
Weight: 8.80 oz
Page Count: 256 pages