Sunday, February 23, 2014

Various reads

18052929Scott, Lisa Ann. School of Charm.
February 18th 2014 by Katherine Tegen Books

In 1977, Brenda "Chip" Anderson's father has passed away, and her mother moves with Chip and her sisters from New York to North Carolina to live with Chip's grandmother. Grandmother is very particular about appearances and very interested in getting Chip's sisters to compete in a beauty pageant. Chip is too much of a tomboy, but when she is exploring her new neighborhood, she happens upon Miss Vernie's School of Charm. Karen and Dana are part of it, and their lessons consist more of working in Miss Vernie's yard than anything else, but they are given charm bracelets and assured that as they learn what they need to know, the charms will fall off. Chip's sisters are both in the thick of preparation as well, and the family settles in and tries to come to terms with the death of the father and how they will make their new life.
Strengths: Liked the mention of 7/7/77-- we were traveling out west on that date, and I remember hearing it mentioned on the radio! The writing is fine and easy to read, the characters well developed, and I have to admit that the Brandon Dorman cover reminded me of Mandy, which is why I picked it up.
Weaknesses: I'm not sure of the audience for this one, or where it was really going. Part of the message seems to be "Be yourself", but then a lot of weight is put on the pageant. I was never sure what Miss Vernie was trying to accomplish, and she was a bit creepy. The subplot with the grandmother discussing why she was mean tempered didn't really work, either. Of course, Frequent Readers know how I do with quirky Southern books, and this one could fit into that category, so maybe it's just me.

People who liked this more than I did:
The Hiding Spot
The Page Turn
 YA Bookcase

17978183Berk, Sheryl. Two to Tango (Dance Divas #2)
February 25th 2014 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
E ARC from

Rochelle and Liberty are both in the running to do a duet with cute boy Hayden, but their teacher, Ms. Toni, won't decide yet who will get to compete. Liberty  is a member of Rochelle's team but a bit of a threat because her mother is a professional choreographer. Rochelle is assigned a tango with Hayden, and Liberty has a more romantic dance. Rochelle's friends Scarlett and Bria try to be supportive, but Rochelle and Ms. Toni have a difference of philosophy when it comes to dance, since Ms. Toni likes discipline and practice, and Rochelle thinks that it is more important to feel the dance. The Dance Divas (the team at the school) is entering in a Leaps and Bounds competition, and Ms. Toni really wants to beat the rival team. The girls arrange a dance off to see who should represent the Dance Divas, but when an injury occurs, the choice is clear-- but the team also needs to find a replacement for a group number.
Strengths: This had tons of information about dance and the politics at a dance studio, a little romantic interest, and a character of color without that being the center issue.
Weaknesses: Not knowing that this was the second book in the series, I was a bit confused. Even though the characters are older, this read like a book for elementary grade students.

The first book in the series is this one:

17287075 Berk, Sheryl. Showtime! (Dance Divas #1)
September 10th 2013 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens


Daniel Johnston said...

That's too bad that School of Charm isn't well written, it sounds like an interesting book.

Ms. Yingling said...

The writing is fine- it's just kind of an odd topic and I am not sure which of my students would be interested in it.

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