Eleven-year-old Brenda Anderson, better known as Chip, has always been a daddy’s girl. After Daddy dies, Chip, her mom and two sisters must move down south to their grandmother’s house in Mount Airy, North Carolina. When her grandmother greets the group in high heels and pearls, Chip just knows she doesn’t fit in with this family of Southern belles. Grandmother Nancy was Miss North Carolina in 1939 and Chip’s mother was runner-up in 1961. Though Chip’s sisters, Charlene and Ruthie weren’t born in the South, the two are budding Southern belles themselves. They will both enter the Miss Dogwood 1977 pageant in the Miss and Little Miss divisions respectively.
Preferring to climb trees, work in the garden and save animals, Chip believes that she has nothing in common with her family. While out exploring the area, in order to escape from all the pageant plans in the house, Chip sees a sign for Miss Vernie’s School of Charm. She ventures in to discover whether this charm school is for magic or for beauty. Miss Vernie gives a confusing answer, but Chip decides to join anyway. Having been given a charm bracelet that must be worn at all times, Chip starts to think that she’s come to the wrong place for her.
However, Chip reconsiders when she meets her classmates, Dana and Karen, and they all get to work cleaning bird feeders. Dana and Karen are at the school because they are entering the Miss Dogwood pageant. Constantly clashing with her grandmother leads Chip to consider entering the pageant herself, in order to become a brand-new Brenda who does fit in with her family. But, telling her family that she’s joined the pageant only gets her laughed at. Will brand-new Brenda be able to show her family that she is one of them? Which Anderson sister will bring home a crown? And is there hope for peace between nature-loving tomboy Chip and her pageant loving, bird-killing grandmother Nancy?
School of Charm is a young adult novel. But, this tale of a young daddy’s girl who has just lost her father and must now relearn how she fits into the family will touch the heart of any reader, whether younger or older.
Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.