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The Charming Life of Izzy Malone Hardcover – November 29, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—Izzy feels like a sore thumb in a room full of pinkies. She's a spirited girl who wants to be a part of the competitive after-school rowing team, the Dandelion Paddlers, but is best known as "Toad Girl" by her classmates. She describes herself as the "kid in class that everyone secretly (and not-so-secretly) thinks is weird." She lives with her older sister (a musical prodigy who gets more than her fair share of attention), her mom (who is running for mayor), her father (who is the town's police chief), her grandma, and her great-aunt. Her parents enroll her in Mrs. Whippie's Earn Your Charm School, where she learns about manners while being prompted to do her best and is rewarded with charms for a bracelet. This contemporary realistic novel is told in the first person, and readers will root for Izzy. VERDICT A well-executed and fun school romp. Hand this to middle grade readers looking for light and entertaining fare.—Helen Foster James, University of California at San Diego
"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, isindeed 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
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I fell in love with Izzy from the start of this book. She is smart, spunky, and charming. There were times that I couldn’t help but giggle at some of the things that happened to her, and I sympathized with her when things didn’t go her way. I especially liked the rekindling of her friendship with Violet. (I’m excited to read The Wondrous World of Violet Barnaby!) This is a perfect middle grade read, especially for anyone who has ever felt that they didn’t quite fit in. “If life is a story, I was figuring out who I wanted to star in mine.” (Izzy Malone)
Izzy Malone is a sixth grade girl who just doesn’t fit in. To make matters worse, her mother is running for mayor of their small Napa Valley town, and Izzy is expected to be on her best behavior all the time. Izzy’s mother also signs her up for charm school, but instead of going to lessons each week, Izzy receives her assignments in the mail. If she can complete an assignment, she will receive a charm for her bracelet. Izzy tries to follow Ms. Whippie’s directions, but things don’t always go according to plan. But on the bright side, some of Izzy’s classmates are curious about what Izzy has been doing, and they want to help out.
This is a delightful book. It has some wonderful lessons about the importance of friendship and family, and standing up for what you believe in. At the beginning of the book, Izzy doesn’t really care about not fitting in, and she is proud of how many times she has been sent to the guidance counselor’s office. As the story progresses, Izzy realizes the impact that her actions have on others, and she adjusts herself. I also think the target reading audience will be able to empathize with Izzy, who just wants to be accepted for who she is.
I would absolutely recommend The Charming Life of Izzy Malone. This book is perfect for middle grade readers. I am looking forward to sharing this book with my fourth grade daughter. I really enjoyed Lundquist’s world-building- Dandelion Hollow sounds like a great place to live, and it is full of eccentric personalities. I was excited to discover that this book is the first in a duology, and I am looking forward to returning to Dandelion Hollow in the future!
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Izzy Malone indeed charmed me! I felt for this spirited middle grader who is often misunderstood, verbally bullied by her peers and feels quite alone in this big world. It doesn’t help that her sister is a perfect musical prodigy and her mother, who is running for mayor, is more focused on the image her family is portraying.
The characters truly make this book. They are all unique and each have quirks that make them feel vulnerable. I loved how Izzy slowly started making her own friends and especially enjoyed the idea of performing certain “good deeds” in order to earn charms. I guessed the secret behind the creator, but was definitely touched by their back story.
Talk about a wonderful book for mothers and daughters to read together. Many grow up with strained relationships that result in constant bickering. This story will either be eye opening of their own actions, give them hope that they won’t always be foes and hopefully open up some much needed great discussions.
This is the first book that I’ve read by Jenny Lundquist, but it definitely won’t be my last. I’m excited that this is the start to a new series. Book 2, The Wondorous World of Violet Barnaby, came out Sept. 19!! We met Violet in this book and learned about some of her past and a big change that is about to happen in her family. I look forward to reading her story and visiting these characters again.