Allegra Biscotti Collection
by Bennett, Olivia; Rucker, Georgia (ILT)

Eighth-grade misfit Emma Rose is discovered by a well-known fashionista and assigned a pseudonym to protect her from public scrutiny, only to encounter difficulties balancing her real-world problems with a secret identity.

Olivia 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.

Fashionistas, rejoice! Allegra Biscotti (aka eighth-grader Emma Rose) has arrived on the scene. A fashion lover and designer, Emma spends most of her time sketching at her father's lace warehouse in the Garment District, especially now that her best friend has taken up with the cool crowd. Then, a miracle. The editor in chief of one of the hottest fashion magazines spots one of her dresses and falls in love. Thinking her eighth-grade self isn't going to cut it, Emma invents Allegra Biscotti, a fashion-forward designer who takes on a life of her own, complicating Emma's to no end. It's nice to have a young chick-lit book that's about something other than middle-school angst (although there's plenty of that, too). Here, it's fashion, fashion, fashion, and readers will learn something about the industry even as they're caught up in the story of Emma trying to live her dream. Pencil-and-wash pictures of Emma's designs dot almost every page, adding to the fun. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

The Game

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.

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