Welcome to Day 7 of the 6th Annual March MG Madness, featuring Jenny Lundquist and her book, The Charming Life of Izzy Malone!
The Charming Life of Izzy Malone
by Jenny Lundquist
Simon & Schuster/Aladdin M!X
Izzy Malone isn’t your typical middle schooler. She wears camouflage combat boots, the stars are her only friends, and after a month she’s set a new record for the most trips to her principal’s office.
But Izzy’s life isn’t so charming these days. The kids at school think she’s a mouthy misfit, her musical prodigy sister gets all the attention at home, and no one takes Izzy’s determination to compete in her small town’s Great Pumpkin Race seriously.
When Izzy’s antics land her in hot water, her parents enroll her in Mrs. Whippie’s Earn Your Charm School. At first Izzy thinks it sounds stupid—her manners are just fine, thanks—but Mrs. Whippie’s first assignment proves intriguing. Tucked inside a letter is a shiny charm bracelet and instructions telling her she will “Earn Her Charm” by performing a series of tasks. For each task Izzy completes, she’ll receive a charm to place on her bracelet. “Complete them all,” the letter says, “and you will have earned a prize unlike any other.”
Soon Izzy’s adding charms to her bracelet. But when a task goes seriously awry and threatens to derail her mother’s budding political career, Izzy has her hands full proving she’s not an emerging juvenile delinquent. Add in some middle school mean girls, a giant pumpkin that could be the answer to all her problems, and discovering she might have a crush on the boy she accidentally punched in the face, and Izzy may just pull it all together and Earn Her Charm. And she’s about to find out the best kind of friends are just like stars: Bright and beautiful, appearing just when you need them, to shine a little bit of light on a dark night.
Tonight’s episode of Izzy Gets In Trouble (Again) is brought to you by the Hammer, aka Ms. Harmer, Joy-Killer Extraordinaire:
For viewers just tuning in, it began after dinner when Mom called me into the den. She was flipping through a stack of mail while Carolyn was sprawled out on the couch, softly strumming her guitar.
“We have to leave in a few minutes for rehearsal,” Mom said. “But I wanted to ask how Mrs. Whippie’s charm school is going.” She squinted at an envelope then tossed it into the trash.
“It’s going fine,” I said. “I’m supposed to do something nice for someone anonymously. I put a five-dollar bill in a menu at the Kaleidoscope, but—”
“That was from you?” Carolyn said. “Layla found it when we stopped by earlier. She treated us both to hot chocolates. Thanks!”
“You’re welcome,” I said. “But I thought that was kind of boring, though, so—”
“Doing something nice for someone is never boring,” Mom said.
I was about to tell her all about clearing Ms. Zubov’s garden tonight, but right then she held out an envelope from school addressed to The Parents of Isabella Malone.
“What’s this?” she asked.
“How should I know?” I said, although I had a pretty good idea.
She opened the letter, and sure enough, I was right.
“It’s from Ms. Harmer. It says you frequently refuse to follow instructions.” She paused and said, “Well?”
I frowned. “Well, what?”
“Well—what do you have to say for yourself?”
“I guess I would say . . . instructions are for kids who have no imagination.”
Mom sighed loudly and ran a hand through her hair, but behind her back Carolyn grinned and gave me a thumbs-up.
“What? You told me to say something, so I did.”
Mom read the letter again. “Apparently, you were supposed to write an essay about a famous poet, and instead you turned in a story.”
“So what? Ms. Harmer didn’t actually say it had to be a real life famous poet—so I made one up.” If you ask me, what I did was actually harder, and, the best part of all, it only took me fifteen minutes. I wrote a story about a poet named Wanda Wordsmith who went fishing for her poems. Except instead of a fishing pole, she used a kite to catch her words on the wind. I thought it was a great story and deserved an A. But apparently, the Hammer thought it deserved a note home, which made no sense to me at all. Sometimes I think teachers like Ms. Harmer view creativity as something dirty and slightly embarrassing, and would prefer to turn kids into people who color inside the lines.
Generally speaking, I don’t care much for lines.
“She shouldn’t have had to specify she meant a real poet, Isabella. It was implied.”
“My name is Izzy. And if Ms. Harmer wanted to learn something about real poets, why couldn’t she just Google them herself?”
“The point,” Mom said in a steely voice, “was that you were supposed to do research in the library and compile facts, so you could learn something.”
“I’m allergic to libraries.” All that dust and crusty old Mrs. Menzel, the school librarian. No thanks. “Besides,” I added, “imagination is better than facts.”
Mom closed her eyes and took a deep breath. A few of them, actually. “Go upstairs and do your homework. We’ll talk about this tomorrow morning when your dad is home.”
“Okay, but don’t you want to hear about how I’m going to earn my—”
“No, I don’t!” Mom’s eyes flew open. “I don’t want to hear about it. I want you to go upstairs and, for just this once, do what you’re told without complaining and arguing!”
“All right, fine! I just thought for once you might want to hear about my life!” I stomped up the stairs as loudly as I could, expecting Mom to holler at me to keep it down.
She didn’t, though, which I guessed made perfect sense. After all, it’s not like she ever listened to me, anyway.
Jenny Lundquist grew up in Huntington Beach, California, wearing glasses and wishing they had magic powers. They didn't, but they did help her earn a degree in intercultural studies at Biola University. Jenny has painted an orphanage in Mexico, taught English at a university in Russia, and hopes one day to write a book at a café in Paris. Jenny and her husband live in northern California with their two sons and Rambo, the world's whiniest cat. Website * Twitter *Facebook
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The Charming Life of Izzy Malone!
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