Title: School of CharmAdd to Goodreads
Author: Lisa Ann Scott
Publisher: HarperCollins BFYR
Pub. Date: February 18, 2014
Genre: Middle Grade
Rec. Age Level: 12+
I struggled to keep my outrage in check as I read about tomboy Chip and her judgmental Grandma, who appears bent on tearing Chip down and making her feel worthless. This woman is horrible! Seriously. By the end of the novel, Chip’s mother finally starts standing up to her grandmother, but, in my opinion, neither was a very great role model for Chip. Still, this horrible grandmother offers an accessible way to present a variety of difficult topics to middle grade readers. Through Chip’s interactions with her Grandma, the reader is presented with racism, bullying, the ridiculous enforcement of gender roles, not to mention judgment and rudeness disguised as Southern hospitality.
Not only does School of Charm follow Chip’s growth, readers also follow the growth of her fellow classmates at Miss Vernie’s School of Charm. One of the best lessons illustrated by this debut from Lisa Ann Scott is the importance of who you are versus what you look like. All three girls face judgement and unequal treatment because of their physical appearance. There’s a fantastic scene in the novel when all three girls are working in Miss Vernie’s pond and end up with mud facials. As they stand together, peering at their reflections in the pond, Chip notes that, when covered with mud, all the girls look essentially the same. On the outside, they have physical differences, but at their core, they’re essentially the same and are all deserving of respect and fair treatment.