Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Books bought and borrowed: Alice-Miranda At School

Meet Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones, possibly the bravest, most positive seven and one quarter year old you’re ever likely to encounter.   In her first adventure, Alice-Miranda At School Alice-Miranda quickly learns that not everything is as it seems at Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies. The Headmistress, Miss Grimm hasn’t been seen for ten years. The prize winning flowers are gone and a mysterious stranger has been camping in the greenhouse. Alice-Miranda must complete a series of impossible tests to prove she is worthy of keeping her place. Join her on this rollicking adventure as Alice-Miranda proves that no matter how young or how small, there’s nothing can beat a tiny child with a true optimistic spirit and sheer determination.

(From the author, Jacqueline Harvey)

Little Wanna and I have just finished reading the first Alice-Miranda book.  There's nothing like a book about an all girls' boarding school to provide a captivating plot-line and a complex set of relationships.  We enjoyed barracking for Alice Miranda and snarling at toffy-nosed, head prefect Alethea, but some of the adult characters were hard to comprehend.  The improbable arrival of Miss Grimm's forlorn suitor, like Grizzly Adams emerging from the bush, and the twists in the tale of their relationship was too much, too late in the book.  That part lost us.  Still, I was reading to a six year old and I think this is pitched at the older self-reader who may throughly enjoy the dramatic unfolding of events close to the end.   We did fall completely for Alice-Miranda herself though, and will be on the look out for the sequels, Alice-Miranda On Holiday and Alice-Miranda Takes The Lead.   It is the sort of story that lends itself to a series where the characters can mature.

As an aside, I was completely distracted by all the derivative English stereotypes imposed on an Australian boarding school.  I suppose that's what these schools are like around Sydney and the Southern Highlands where the author has taught, but I'd like to read about a regional boarding school where there are no quadruple-barrelled surnames or aspiration for girls to become "prim and proper".  Wouldn't that be fun!    


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