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School of Charm


School of Charm

When Chip’s dad dies, her world is turned upside down. Her family moves from New York to North Carolina. To her horror, the new house is filled with taxidermy animals. Her problems only mount because she feels like an outsider in her own family. First, her grandma doesn’t take to her at all. Then, her mom is grieving so she isn’t allowed to talk about her dad. Plus, her sisters want to be beauty queens, just like her grandma and mom. Her family treats her like she is invisible because she is so different from them --- she is a tomboy.
Chip likes nothing better than playing in the woods. One day she goes exploring in the woods and stumbles across an enchanting home where Miss Vernie’s School of Charm is nestled. There she meets Miss Vernie, who is teaching Dana and Karen how to become pageantry material.  Chip joins them, hoping that she will win over her family when she becomes a beauty queen contestant.
Miss Vernie has quirky teaching methods. Her first request is that the girls wear a charm bracelet. Every time they learn an important life lesson, a charm will fall off the bracelet. They don’t sit around trying new hairstyles or balancing books on their heads; instead, they pull cattails from the pond and work in the garden. Slowly, the charms slip from the bracelets.


The book is heart-warming --- I found myself rooting for the characters, supporting them during hardships and cheering them on.

When Chip’s family finds out that she is going to be in the beauty pageant, however, there are no congratulations or excitement. Chip feels depleted by their reaction. Plus, Chip’s grandma wants her to quit Miss Vernie’s School of Charm because she holds a grudge against the teacher. If that isn’t punishment enough, Chip gets in huge trouble when she picks the lock to grandma’s secret room. To her surprise, the room is filled with animal figurines. She just wants to learn more about her grandma in the hopes of understanding her. To say the least, her plan backfires, and Chip wonders if her grandma will ever like her. Plus, she feels lonely and isolated, and misses her friends and Miss Vernie.
SCHOOL OF CHARM is a delightful book that is full of magic, hope and dreams. The story takes you on a journey of self-discovery. Sometimes fitting in and being true to yourself don’t coincide, but it’s worth trying.

The author helps you understand how characters became who they are by exploring their pasts --- they have to overcome their own demons before they can move forward. The author also makes characters both unlikeable and likeable, such as the grandma. At first she seems hard and cold, but another side is slowly revealed. The book is heart-warming --- I found myself rooting for the characters, supporting them during hardships and cheering them on.
This is Lisa Ann Scott’s first middle-grade novel. Prior to writing she was a news anchor on TV.  Also, she works as a voice actor in upstate New York where she lives with her husband and two children. To learn more about her, visit her website at

Reviewed by Kathleen M. Purcell on March 5, 2014

School of Charm
by Lisa Ann Scott

  • Publication Date: February 18, 2014
  • Genres: Youth Fiction
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
  • ISBN-10: 006220758X
  • ISBN-13: 9780062207586