The Charming Life of Izzy Malone by Jenny Lundquist
Izzy Malone isn’t your typical sixth grader. She wears camouflage combat boots and tie dye skirts; the Big Dipper and Orion are her two best friends; and she’d rather climb trees or shoot hoops than talk about boys and makeup. And after only a month of middle school she’s already set the record for the most trips to the Principal’s office.
The only time Izzy feels at peace is when she’s on the open water, and more than anything else, she wants to become a member of the Dandelion Paddlers, her school’s competitive rowing club. But thanks to those multiple trips to the Principal’s office, Izzy’s parents force her to enroll in Mrs. Whippie’s Charm School, a home-study course in manners and etiquette, or they won’t let her race in Dandelion Hollow’s annual pumpkin regatta—where Izzy hopes to prove to the Dandelion Paddlers she is more than qualified to be on their team.
When Mrs. Whippie’s first letter arrives it’s way different from what Izzy was expecting. Tucked inside the letter is a shiny gold bracelet and an envelope charm. Izzy must earn her first charm by writing someone a nice note, and once she does more tasks will be assigned.
Izzy manages to complete some of the tasks—and to her surprise, she actually finds herself enjoying the course. But when one of her attempts at doing something good is misinterpreted, she fears her chances at passing the course—and becoming a Paddler—are slipping away. With some unexpected friends there to support her, can Izzy manage to earn her charms and stay true to herself?
“Izzy’s frank, vulnerable, sassy first-person narration reveals her surprising journey from a solitary girl talking to the stars to a girl with friends to light her way…This story of an atypical girl, her family, and friends, laced with middle school drama, is indeed a charming one.” –Kirkus Reviews
“A heartwarming coming-of-age journey…Lundquist deftly portrays the pain of being odd girl out, both at school and at home.” –Publisher’s Weekly
The bracelet and the first charm appeared the day I punched Austin Jackson in the nose. I didn’t mean to slug him. His face just got in my way. It was a bruising end to a disastrous first month in middle school.
You know that kid in class that everyone secretly (and not so secretly) thinks is weird? The one people laugh and point at behind their back, the one who gets picked last in gym class, the one you wish you hadn’t gotten stuck with for a science partner?
At Dandelion Hollow Middle School, that kid is me, Izzy Don’t-Call-Me-Isabella Malone.
Truthfully, my slide into loserdom started in elementary school and was pretty much an established fact by the time sixth grade started last month. It’s partly because my mouth often has a mind of its own. But I think it’s also because there are a bazillion other things I’d rather do than talk about boys, clothes, and makeup, and I refuse to wear strappy sandals and short skirts.
(If you ever catch me wearing strappy sandals or a short skirt, you have my permission to kick my butt.)
I do like skirts, though. Really long colorful ones I get from Dandelion Thrift. I like to wear them with my camouflage combat boots.
I call the look Camohemian.
Author Jenny Lundquist
Jenny Lundquist was born and raised in Huntington Beach, CA, where she spent her time unsuccessfully learning how to surf. When she was younger, she wanted to be either a rock star or a published author. After she taped herself singing and listened to it on playback she decided she’d better opt for the writing route. Jenny is the author of Seeing Cinderella and Plastic Polly as well as the young adult titles The Princess in the Opal Mask and The Opal Crown.
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