SCHOOL OF CHARM for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

I doubt I could talk any middle grade boys into picking this one up, but I finally did myself to discover a charming book set in 1977. Yes, especially for any male out there, you really can’t judge a book by its cover (or its title).51XnY5I48fL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Chip makes for one of the most endearing female protagonists ever, telling her story with heart and emotion. She is a square peg trying to fit into a round hole – otherwise known as her family. There is a touch of magic not only at the School of Charm but also in the beautifully written words. Set in North Carolina, it’s a gentle reminder of life in the south almost 40 years ago.

I kept turning the pages anxious for the next surprise. Now I can’t wait for more from this author.


FULL PLOT (From Amazon):  Eleven-year-old Chip has always been her daddy’s girl, so when he dies she pins her hopes on winning a beauty pageant to show her family of southern belles that she still belongs. But she’d rather be covered in mud than makeup! Can a rough-and-tumble girl ever become a beauty queen? A universal story about finding your place in the world, School of Charm explores themes of loss, family, and friendship.


  1. Change – not only for Chip, but for her mother, a bitter grandmother, and her obnoxious older sister. Talk about a character arc! This one covers every element of character development in a perfect way.
  2. The charm bracelet Chip and her two friends wear is such a great underlying story telling device. Once you have growth in the way you think then a related charm falls off.
  3. So many themes and historical references make this story stand out. Roles of male and females, acceptance of African Americans, first female in space, and the death of Martin Luther King to name a few.
  4. You want a wicked witch? There’s not one here, but instead a horrible antagonist in the form of Chip’s grandmother. You will despise this woman from the get go, but slowly the reasons for her actions surface from a locked room. Luckily for Chip she has another adult in her life that becomes her hero – Miss Vernie, the School of Charm teacher.
  5. Kids who don’t fit in might find hope with this story. Sometimes you have to look in the most unlikely places to find understanding.

FAVORITE LINE: And then I realized what I had to do. The answer had found me, just like Daddy always said answers would. “Just like a lost dog, they’ll show up,” he’d tell me. And my answer was pawing at the door. I would work on the pageant in secret and surprise them all on the day of the competition.



Check the links to other Middle Grade novels over at Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.


About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
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11 Responses to SCHOOL OF CHARM for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

  1. Sounds like a great story. And I can imagine all the changes Chip goes through after losing her dad.

  2. cleemckenzie says:

    I love stories about square peg people. I relate with them a lot.

  3. Kevin Gerard says:

    An obnoxious older sister? That’s reason enough to read this book. I have two grand nieces (did I just say that?) and I’m sure they would love this story. Best aspect – a charm falls off the bracelet when you achieve a measure of growth. That’s the mark of imagination in an author.

  4. Andrea says:

    Aw, this sounds like a sweet story! The historical references and connections are intriguing.

  5. You sure make this sound like a winner. Putting it on my TBR list now. I love despicable antagonists. Thanks for the review.

  6. This book sounds like something I’d enjoy. I love strong protagonists.

  7. okay this sounds FANTASTIC. Love Chip’s voice already, and such a great plot.

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