Alice-Miranda at School

Alice-Miranda at School

4.3 8
by Jacqueline Harvey

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Move over Matilda and Madeline, there's a charming miniature heroine ready to make her mark! Her name is Alice-Miranda—and she's full of spunk!

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

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Move over Matilda and Madeline, there's a charming miniature heroine ready to make her mark! Her name is Alice-Miranda—and she's full of spunk!

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!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Australian author Harvey launches a promising series that stars fearless Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones. At seven-and-one-quarter years old she is ready for adventure and eager to take on her first year at Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies, an elite boarding school that is part of her family’s history. Ever vigilant, as soon as Alice-Miranda arrives at the academy, her instincts kick in: “There was not a thing out of place. But from the moment Alice-Miranda entered the grounds she had a strange feeling that something was missing—and she was usually right about her strange feelings.” But when Alice-Miranda approaches the school’s headmistress, Miss Grimm, to discuss the problems she perceives at the school (the head prefect is difficult, the cook badly needs a vacation, and the gardener just wants to be allowed to plant flowers), Miss Grimm not only refuses to hear her, but also seems resigned to making Alice-Miranda’s first year as difficult as possible. Alice-Miranda’s precociousness can sometimes be cloying, but her effervescent personality lends itself well to the novel’s hyperbolic atmosphere, and her optimism is contagious. Ages 7–10. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Leona Illig
Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones is seven and one-quarter years old and has started attending an exclusive girls' boarding school. She is pretty, rich, well mannered, well traveled, and has two doting parents who, like her, are interested in making the world a better place. What could possibly go wrong? For starters, there is a nasty, vain student named Alethea Goldsworthy, who tries to make everyone's life miserable. But the more difficult problem is the headmistress, Miss Ophelia Grimm, whose broken heart has had a depressing effect on the school. In this twist on the "Pollyanna" theme, the reader can be sure that Alice-Miranda will put things right. This unusual book contains protagonists who are rich and use money to help others; the villains, on the other hand, are rich and use money to help themselves. It is tempting to read the story as a satire on the upper class, but the book maintains its sincerity by describing Alice-Miranda's sunny disposition and her determined efforts, always successful, to help others. There are some problems—sudden changes in point of view, and repetition of illustrations—but these are minor. If readers are searching for a modern reality tale, they will need to go elsewhere; not every child is going to relate to the problems of the incredibly rich and talented. Nevertheless, this book has a large supply of sincerity and charm; and, if the truth be told, what little girl wouldn't want to have the fabulous life of Alice-Miranda? Readers who enjoy this book will want to read the timeless classic, Pollyanna. Reviewer: Leona Illig
School Library Journal
Gr 2–4—Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones is going away to the Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies. At age seven-and-one-quarter, she's the youngest pupil in the school. Alice-Miranda arrives and begins solving problems immediately, from the students' to the groundskeeper's to the cook's. When the headmistress, Miss Grimm, takes a dislike to the adorable little girl, she must find a way to solve that problem too. As she adjusts to her new surroundings, Alice-Miranda and others notice that a mysterious stranger has been hiding about the school. Who is he, and why has Miss Grimm not left her office in 10 years? Alice-Miranda is just the one to find out. The child emulates the late-great Richie Rich of Harvey Comics fame in everything but the robot butler. The ultimate extreme in cute, rich, kind, and genius, she is a good role model with her ability always to see the best in everyone. Because the reading level may be slightly more difficult than the interest level, this would make an excellent classroom read-a-loud. A fun mystery, with fantastical, over-the-top elements.—Terry Ann Lawler, Phoenix Public Library, AZ
Kirkus Reviews

The secretive headmistress of a boarding school and abully intent on mischief galore are no match for the intrepid Alice-Miranda. Despite having doting, extremely wealthy parents and a precocious nature,Alice-Miranda is neither selfish norspoiled. Instead, shehas a beguiling ability to enchant those around her and an enthusiasm for helping people in need. Upon arrival at boarding school, Alice-Miranda discovers a host of mysteries to solve, including a distraught cook, a heartbroken assistant and a headmistress who is never seen by staff or students. With wisdom beyond her years, the spirited 7-year-old wades in to solve everyone's problems. In doing so, she garners the unwelcome attention of queen bee Alethea and the appropriately named headmistress, Miss Grimm. In an effort to oust Alice-Miranda, Miss Grimm sets a herculean series of tasks she must pass in order to remain at the Academy. Readers will cheer forplucky Alice-Miranda as she attempts a comprehensive exam, an arduous solo camping trip and a sailing contest with the nefarious Alethea. This new series, with its sprightly, resilient heroine, whois sweet without being cloying, offers readers a lively blend ofhumor and intrigue.(Mystery. 7-11)

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
7 - 10 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones waved goodbye to her parents at the gate.

"Goodbye, Mummy. Please try to be brave." Her mother sobbed loudly in reply. "Enjoy your golf, Daddy. I'll see you at the end of term." Her father sniffled into his handkerchief.

Before they had time to wave her goodbye, Alice-Miranda skipped back down the hedge-lined path into her new home.

Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies had a tradition dating back two and a half centuries. Alice-Miranda's mother, aunt, grandmother, great-grandmother and so on had all gone there. But none had been so young or so willing.

It had come as quite a shock to Alice-Miranda's parents to learn that she had telephoned the school to see if she could start early—she was, after all, only seven and one-quarter years old, and not due to start for another year. But after two years at her current school, Ellery Prep, she felt ready for bigger things. Besides, Alice-Miranda had always been different from other children. She loved her parents dearly and they loved her, but boarding school appealed to her sense of adventure.

"It's much better this way," Alice-Miranda had said with a smile. "You both work so hard and you have far more important things to do than run after me. This way I can do all my activities at school. Imagine, Mummy—no more waiting around while I'm at ballet or piano or riding lessons."

"But darling, I don't mind a bit," her mother protested.

"I know you don't," Alice-Miranda had agreed, "but you should think about my being away as a holiday. And then at the end there's all the excitement of coming home, except that it's me coming home to you." She'd hugged her mother and stroked her father's brow as she handed them a gigantic box of tissues. Although they didn't want her to go, they knew there was no point arguing. Once Alice-Miranda made up her mind there was no turning back.

Her teacher, Miss Critchley, hadn't seemed the least surprised by Alice-Miranda's plans.

"Of course, we'll all miss her terribly," Miss Critchley had explained to Alice-Miranda's parents. "But that daughter of yours is more than up to it. I can't imagine there's any reason to stop her."

And so Alice-Miranda went.

Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale sat upon three thousand emerald-colored acres. A tapestry of Georgian buildings dotted the campus, with Winchesterfield Manor the jewel in the crown. Along its labyrinth of corridors hung huge portraits of past headmistresses with serious stares and old-fashioned clothes. The trophy cabinets glittered with treasure and the foyer was lined with priceless antiques. There was not a thing out of place. But from the moment Alice-Miranda entered the grounds she had a strange feeling that something was missing—and she was usually right about her strange feelings.

The headmistress, Miss Grimm, had not come out of her study to meet her. The school's secretary, Miss Higgins, had met Alice-Miranda and her parents at the gate, looking rather surprised to see them.

"I'm terribly sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones. There must have been a mix-up with the dates—Alice-Miranda is a day early," Miss Higgins had explained.

Her parents had said that it was no bother and they would come back again tomorrow. But Miss Higgins was appalled at the idea of causing such inconvenience and offered to take care of Alice-Miranda until the house mistress arrived.

It was Miss Higgins who had interviewed Alice-Miranda some weeks ago, when Alice-Miranda had first contacted the school. At that meeting, Alice-Miranda had thought Miss Higgins quite lovely, with her kindly eyes and pretty smile. But today she couldn't help noticing that Miss Higgins seemed a little flustered and talked as though she were in a race.

Miss Higgins showed Alice-Miranda to her room and suggested she take a stroll around the school. "I'll come and find you and take you to see Cook about some lunch in a little while."

Alice-Miranda unpacked her case, folded her clothes and put them neatly away into one of the tall chests of drawers. The room contained two single beds on opposite walls, matching chests and bedside tables. In a tidy alcove, two timber desks, each with a black swivel chair, stood side by side. The furniture was what her mother might have called functional. Not beautiful, but all very useful. The room's only hint of elegance came from the fourteen-foot ceiling with ornate cornices and the polished timber floor.

Alice-Miranda was delighted to find an envelope addressed to Miss Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones propped against her pillow.

"How lovely—my own special letter," Alice-Miranda said out loud. She looked at the slightly tatty brown bear in her open suitcase. "Isn't that sweet, Brummel?"

She slid her finger under the opening and pulled out a very grand-looking note on official school paper. It read:

Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies

Dear Miss Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones,

Welcome to Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies. It is expected that you will work extremely hard at all times and strive to achieve your very best. You must obey without question all of the school rules, of which there is a copy attached to this letter. Furthermore, you must ensure that your behavior is such that it always brings credit to you, your family and this establishment.

Yours sincerely,

Miss Ophelia Grimm Headmistress

Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies School Rules

1. Hair ribbons in regulation colors and a width of 3/4 of an inch will be tied with double overhand bows.
2. Shoes will be polished twice a day with boot polish and brushes.
3. Shoelaces will be washed each week by hand.
4. Head lice are banned.
5. All times tables to 20 must be learned by heart by the age of 9.
6. Bareback horse riding is not permitted in the quadrangle.
7. All girls will learn to play golf, croquet and bridge.
8. Licorice will not be consumed after 5 p.m.
9. Unless invited by the headmistress, parents will not enter school buildings.
10. Homesickness will not be tolerated.

Alice-Miranda put the letter down and cuddled the little bear. "Oh, Brummel, I can't wait to meet Miss Grimm—she sounds like she's very interested in her students."

Alice-Miranda folded the letter and placed it in the top drawer. She would memorize the school rules later. She popped her favorite photos of Mummy and Daddy on her bedside table and positioned the bear carefully on her bed.

"You be a brave boy, Brummel." She ruffled his furry head. "I'm off to explore, and when I get back I'll tell you all about it."

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