Alice in April
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Alice in April

4.8 19
by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
     
 

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April is the cruelest month," said the poet, and Alice McKinley would agree. April is a hard month. Not that she doesn't have some fun. It does begin with a wonderful April Fool's Day joke on her brother, Lester. But it also begins with Aunt Sally reminding her that she will soon be thirteen (as if anyone could forget something so important) and then she will be

Overview

April is the cruelest month," said the poet, and Alice McKinley would agree. April is a hard month. Not that she doesn't have some fun. It does begin with a wonderful April Fool's Day joke on her brother, Lester. But it also begins with Aunt Sally reminding her that she will soon be thirteen (as if anyone could forget something so important) and then she will be Woman of the House, since her mother is long dead. It is an awesome responsibility. All her life she had assumed that her father and Lester were there to take care of her; now she is going to have to take care of them. Taking care of Lester, alone, could be a full-time job, she thinks. Being Woman of the House has all sorts of drawbacks. For example: It never occurred to her that when she suggested her father and Lester ought to have physical checkups, her father would insist that she have one too. How could you let a doctor see you naked?

Of course, Alice is still in school. And there she faces another crisis. She might be Woman of the House at home, but in school she needs a different kind of name, one given by a table full of boys in the cafeteria Depending on their figures, girls are being given state names — some states have mountains and others do not. Will flat, flat Delaware or Louisiana be her fate? Alice lives in fear that it might be, though even worse is the fear that she might not get a name at all.

The month ends with a dinner party for her father's birthday (part of being Woman of the House) that has more downs than ups — and with a totally unexpected event that makes Alice and everyone she knows grow up a little and wonder a little deeper about life and the future. April is a hard month, but reading about Alice in April is to find that most tragedies (though not all) pass and tears can turn to laughter and delight.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Haley Maness
Alice is anticipating turning thirteen, but she is nervous about becoming what her Aunt Sally calls the "woman of the house." Alice decides to take on some of the jobs of her late mother, such as collecting coupons, instructing her family to go to the doctor, and helping her older brother Lester. She decides that she can take care of herself now that she is almost thirteen. Readers of this novel will want to emulate Alice's growing independence a she matures into a young woman. Alice and her friends realize that the girls in the seventh grade aren't the only ones growing up. The boys are maturing as well, and are looking at the girls in a different way than before. Alice learns that she can count on her father to help her with whatever she struggles with as she grows up. Young adults who read this story will realize that they too can trust and believe in their families. In this cheerful new edition of the popular "Alice" series, Alice begins to blossom into a responsible young adult. Reviewer: Haley Maness
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Naylor plunges her forthright and unusually winning series heroine ( All but Alice ) into the middle of seventh grade, when the responsibilities that go with turning 13 loom just ahead. As Alice struggles to assume the role of Woman of the House in the motherless home she shares with her older brother and father, the trials of domesticity compete with the anxiety of waiting for the boys in her grade to name her figure after the topography of one of the 50 states (``I knew what would be worse than Delaware: Rhode Island. Not the shape, the size''). With characteristic humor and the support of her old friends, Alice forges ahead, monitoring the romantic mishaps of her father and brother while coping with her own minor disasters. A subplot involves an abused classmate, whose suicide ends the book on a tragic note. The issue is carefully explored, without melodrama, and although it may surprise readers accustomed to jocularity from the Alice books, it is to the author's credit that Alice's development includes some serious problems. Deftly written dialogue and an empathetic tone neatly balance substantial themes with plain good fun. Ages 9-13. (Apr.)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-- When Aunt Sally writes, ``Our little Alice is going to become a teenager. It's a big responsibility because you're the woman of the house now,'' it puts Alice under pressure. She discovers that running a household is not easy. On top of that, she feels helpless and out of control at school. And no wonder, for the boys in her class have started naming the girls after the U. S. states, based on their anatomy. Her father and college-age brother can't believe that she cares about such foolishness. But she does care and is sensitive about her changing body and facing other girls in the gym showers. Also, Al and her brother have to go for their first physical examinations. Curious preteens may be interested in the almost technical, systematic description of the exam. Al is also busy playing cupid for her father and her teacher, whom she would like to see him marry. On top of all these other concerns, a schoolmatke commits suicide, and Al feels guilty she did not recognize the warning signs. This third book about the likable heroine stands well on its own. It is light reading that will keep Alice's many fans happy. --Susannah Price, Boise Public Library, ID

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781442427570
Publisher:
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
05/03/2011
Series:
Alice Series, #5
Edition description:
Reissue
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
624,721
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Every April Fools' Day, for the past five years, Lester has pulled some trick on me, and I always fall for it.

He told me one April that he'd accidently dropped my toothbrush in the toilet the week before and forgotten to tell me. Another time he said that the FDA had just banned chocolate and no one would be able to buy it anymore. And last year, on April 1, he said he thought I had head lice. Each time I gasped and thought my life was over, and then he said, "April Fool!"

So this year I had it all planned. On the first day of April, I went down to breakfast as usual. Dad and I were eating corn flakes when Lester staggered into the kitchen the way he does in the mornings, his eyes half-closed. Most men shave and shower first, then come to breakfast, I'll bet. Lester does it backward. And on this particular morning, Lester groped his way to the table in the Mickey Mouse shorts I'd given him for Christmas, opened the refrigerator, and waited for something to leap out at him.

"Les," Dad said, "will you please choose something and sit down?"

Lester found some cold beans and some bread, and sat down at the table with his head resting on one hand. I think you could say that my brother is definitely not a morning person.

I got up, went to the sink with my dishes, then glanced out the window. I dropped my silverware.

"Lester!" I shrieked. 'Your car is rolling backward down the driveway!"

Lester, the Living Dead, leaped to his feet, knocking over his chair. He crashed through the hallway, stubbed his toe on the telephone stand, flung open the door, and hopped out onto the porch on one leg, holding his other foot in his hands.

He came to a dead stop. His car was right where it was supposed to be. A woman across the street, who had come out to get her paper, turned to look at Lester in his Mickey Mouse shorts.

"Al?" said Dad, coming up behind me in the doorway.

I collapsed in laughter. "April Fool!" I shrieked. Lester wheeled about and hobbled back into the house. "I'll kill her!" he yelled, but I was already halfway up the stairs.

"Al, you're dead meat!" Lester roared.

"April Fool!" I yelped again, barricading myself in my room.

"Road kill!" Lester bellowed, pounding on my door.

I waited in my room until both Dad and Lester had left the house, and then ran down to the bus stop, smirking from ear to ear, and made everyone laugh with my story.

The thing was, though, nobody paid much attention to April Fools' Day at school. Not even Denise Whitlock, the eighth-grade girl who's repeating seventh, did anything awful to me. She's the girl who bullied me last semester, but she just sat staring out the window in language arts, the way she usually does, only half listening.

Back in fifth and sixth, someone was always trying to put something gross in someone else's sandwich, or a boy would try to stick a sign on someone's back that said KICK ME HARD. But April 1 in junior high was pretty much like any other day, and by the time I went home, I was thinking how it wasn't very grown-up of me to go around playing tricks. If I hadn't played one that morning, in fact, Lester might have forgotten about April Fools' Day this year. Now he'd have some horrible trick waiting for me when I came in.

His car was in the driveway again. I cautiously went up the steps and opened the door. Everything was quiet.

I looked all around and tiptoed out to the kitchen. Lester was at the table eating cheese crackers and reading a magazine. I didn't know whether to step inside or not.

"How ya doin'?" he said. He didn't even look up.

"Okay," I told him, and waited for him to spring — to stick my head under the faucet or something. Nothing happened.

I came slowly into the kitchen and reached for the crackers. Lester didn't even seem to know I was there. I poured some orange juice and sat down across from him. Finally there I was, jabbering away about school, and Lester grunted now and then. I realized what had happened.

Lester must have been half-asleep when he ran out on the porch that morning. That was it. They say that if you wake up after a horrible dream but go right back to sleep again, you won't remember the dream in the morning. Since Lester had never been really awake in the first place, he'd forgotten my trick already. Safe!

I decided to show Dad how grown up I was by making a salad for dinner — have it waiting in the refrigerator when he came home. I got out the lettuce, carrots, celery, and green pepper, and had just stooped over again to see if we had any onions when Lester said, "Is that the latest style?"

"What?" I said.

"That hole in your pants. Is that how they're wearing them now?"

I bolted straight up. "Where?"

"Right on the seat."

"You're joking!" I said, my fingers searching. "I know you, Lester."

And then my fingers stopped. There was a hole! Right on my bottom! A two-inch rip in the seam. I felt my face turn hot. I remembered how I'd had to go up to the blackboard in math, and dropped the chalk while I was up there. Everybody must have seen when I bent over. And in the cafeteria, when I'd put my books under the table, hadn't I heard someone laugh when I stooped over?

"My gosh!" I screamed, and ran upstairs.

I took off my brown pants and threw them across the room. Everybody must have noticed and nobody told me. Pamela and Elizabeth were supposed to be my best friends, and they hadn't said one word. Everybody had let me walk around school with my underwear showing through the hole.

I started to bawl. This was the worst thing that ever happened to me. This was worse than opening the door at the Gap and finding Patrick, who used to be my boyfriend, standing there in his Jockey shorts. This was worse than accidently kicking one of the sixth-grade teachers during a Halloween parade.

This would follow me all through eighth grade, ninth, and senior high school — the girl in the Fruit of the Loom pants. I sobbed.

Lester came to the door of my bedroom. "For Pete's sake, Al, April Fool!" he said.

I grabbed the bedspread and wrapped it around me. "You're just saying that! There really was a hole in my pants!"

"Relax! If there was, I didn't see it," he said.

I gulped. 'You didn't? Lester, tell me honest and truly: Did you see a hole in my pants or not?"

"Of course not."

"Well, I think it's really strange that you just happened to pick that as an April Fool joke when the hole was really there."

"Coincidence, Al."

"You're just trying to make me feel better."

"Why should I want you to feel better after what you did to me this morning?"

He remembered! "Are you sure you didn't see the hole in my pants first and then think of the joke?"

"Arrrggghhh!" cried Lester. "Okay! Okay! Let's say I did see it. Have it your way. If that's the most embarrassing thing that ever happens to you, you're one lucky kid." And he went back downstairs.

I sat woodenly on my bed. Did he mean that far worse things were ahead? Did he mean I'd go to school someday with a hole in the seat of my pants and not have underwear on at all?

I pulled on a pair of jeans and went downstairs.

"Lester," I said, "if you wake up some morning and I'm not here, you'll know I've hitchhiked to Alaska."

"Have a nice life," he said.

Copyright © 1993 by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Meet the Author

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor has written more than 135 books, including the Newbery Award–winning Shiloh, the Alice series, and Roxie and the Hooligans. She lives in Gaithersburg, Maryland. To hear from Phyllis and find out more about Alice, visit AliceMcKinley.com.

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Alice in April 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book you really buy it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is for Haledon ( NJ) summer reading and it is awsome! LOVING IT!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is awsome. When aunt sally reminds Akice that her birthday is coming up, Alice thinks she is the woman of the house now. Thus book is awsomely funny while Alice tries to plan her dads 50th birthday. This i just hilarious!
sarah06 More than 1 year ago
this is a very good book it interests me i couldn't put it down once i started an when i got to the end i teared up that was really sad 
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I love all of the Alice books and Alice in April is no exception! I recommend all of the Alice books to girls 8-18! I have read every single book at least once and am now in the process of reading them all in order.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a very good book that keeps your attention and makes you want to keep reading. It is great for teenage girls, by making them learn and feel better about themselves.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. If you just read one you have to read more and more. This series is great for laughs and for emotions. I've read these books for each of my book reports. I also read this series since 4th grade. I LOVE THIS SERIES!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have to admit, i absolutely loved this book. But the end.......It made me feel all sad and stuff.I havent read Go Ask Alice but i have heard alot about it and I always get a sad feeling when i think about it. The end gave a happy book a sad feeling. But the end,end was pretty cool. And im writing a letter to myself to open when im 60 now. And F.Y.I Id be Cali on the 7th grade boys scale.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was awesome. I especially liked it because my doctor is very old fashined and so i don't really know what happenes when you get a check-up. this helped me understand better.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was really good.If you don't like to be seen in front of other people because your embarissed, this book is definetly for you. Also if you don't like to be seen by a mail doctor you should definetly read this book. If yuor afraid to become the age of 13, because of it's responsibilities this book is made for you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was a really good book and it actually is one of the few books that actually understand a seventh graders point of view ,I was really sad sort of in the end with what happened to Denise and didn't really understand how it fit in the book but otherwise this was truly exceptional hope she continues the work!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite books of all times. I liked it, because I can relate a lot to Alice. I am going through some of the same things. The Alice Series is AWESOME!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thirteen this is my title for this book because it's about this girl that is in the 7th grade and she's about to turn thirteen. I can really relate to this book becuse im 13 and in the 7th grade too. But thats not the only reasion becuse she goes throgh what a normal 7th grade girl would go thorugh. Alice not only has to but up with the things that go on in school but she has to take care of her dad and her older brother because her mom died when she was only 4 years old and now that she will soon be thirteen she will have to be the woman of the house or thats what her aunt sally tells her. To fine out the real truth read alice and april and you will see that you can relate to alice just like I did!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Alice will be thirteen soon, but when Alice's Aunt Sally writes her a letter reminding her that she will be the woman of the house, Alice gets worried. Alice has always depended on her dad or her older brother to take care of her,but since her dads fiftieth birthday is coming up, and she will soon be thirteen, Alice takes full responsibility. What has Alice done, will the party go as planned, or will it be totally ruined............ I enjoed this book because it was suspenseful, just read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Of all the Alice books this one has to be my favorite. It is comical/whitty like the others.. but it also teaches a lesson. The ending was excellent; I wouldn't have it any other way. I defenitly recommend this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MY B-DAY IS APRIL I WILL BE 11 YEARS OLD AND I WANT YOU ALL TO WACH HOUSE OF ANUBIS FOR MY B-DAY PLZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ;-)