Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennigton-Jones can't wait to start boarding school. When she arrives at Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies, the adventure begins . . . only not quite as Alice-Miranda expects. The minute she sets foot on the school's manicured grounds, she senses that something is wrong: Miss Grimm, the headmistress, is nowhere to be seen, the gardens have no flowers, and a mysterious stranger seems to be hiding out on the premises.
But that's not all. Some girls are mean and spoiled, like Alethea Goldsworthy. Can Alice-Miranda defeat Alethea in one of three difficult tests she must pass to remain at school? Will she discover Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale's big secret—and make things right? Well, if anyone can, it's spunky Alice-Miranda!
Alice-Miranda at School is a cute story about a spunky girl who’s seven-and-a-quarter, not quite old enough to attend Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies. This, and her brazen, curious personality, changes the school forever. Finding the state of the school entirely unacceptable, she faces off with the headmistress, Miss Grimm, who hasn’t been seen on campus for ten years, she befriends the second best tantrum thrower of the school, and touches the heart of every staff member other than the headmistress in her first week at school.
I really enjoyed reading about Alice-Miranda’s adventures, but I did have a few issues. The book is intended for younger readers, ages nine to twelve, but it reads much younger, like a beginning chapter book might. The book is ninety-percent dialogue, and everything happens rather quickly (for a younger reader, however, the pacing is perfect). Another problem I had was with Alice-Miranda. I loved her spunky attitude, but she was entirely too perfect. She has a loving family, lots of money, she can befriend pretty much anyone with a smile, she’s extremely smart, and she’s fearless. She doesn’t have a single flaw. While her curiosity gets her into trouble with the headmistress, I didn’t for a second think that she might fail the challenges ahead.
Alice-Miranda aside, the other characters, children and adults alike, all felt like real people I might meet, even with their somewhat silly names. Jacinta Headlington-Bear is the second best tantrum thrower and a phenomenal gymnast. Millicent Jane McLoughlin-McTavish-McNoughton-McGill, known as Millie, is Alice-Miranda’s roommate and supportive best friend (I liked her the most, I think). And then there’s Alice-Miranda’s enemy, Alethea Goldsworthy, the living definition of spoiled brat. While they had their conflicts, Alice-Miranda never lost her cool, and she always took the high road in their confrontations.
All in all, I enjoyed reading the book. It made me giggle all the way through. It’s something I would recommend for younger readers, as young as six and seven. None of the vocabulary is too difficult, and there are several interesting facts sprinkled into the book’s pages. If I ever have a little bookworm girl, this will be one of the first chapter books I’ll have her read.
Reading Level: Ages 9-12 (though, I think younger readers would enjoy it more)
Format: Hardcover, 272 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
[Debut Author Challenge 2011]
[Debut Author Challenge 2011]