Alice the Braveby Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
A month before eighth grade begins, Alice realizes she is going to have to face something she's been afraid of forever. Everybody, she knows, is afraid of something: elevators, dogs, planes, spiders . . . but her fear is worse. It's going to bring absolute disaster to the rest of her summer, maybe to the rest of her life. The truth is she's afraid of deep water!
It's a hot August, and everyone in Alice's gang goes to Mark Stedmeister's swimming pool almost every day. Alice sits at the shallow end. She plays badminton. She makes excuses, and keeps her problem secret.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth and Pamela, Alice's two best friends, tackle problems of their own, and are more or less successful. Life is changing for everyone but Alice.
Bravery begins in little ways, with small steps. That's what Alice finally discovers. And after she faces this particular fear, she knows she can summon the courage to face other fears as well.
As in her previous adventures, Alice tackles some of the big problems of growing up with humor and enterprise and learns once again that a brother, a father, and friends can offer amazing amounts of help.
Read an Excerpt
When we were having dinner that night, I got an idea. I was thinking about the girl who brought a note to school last year because she had a heart condition and could't take gym. What if I carried a card with me at all times, signed by Dad, saying that I'm allergic to chlorine and can't ever get water up my nose?
"How do you know when you're allergic to something?" I asked.
"You break out in hives, your eyes roll back, and your body goes into spasms," said Lester.
Dad gave him a took. "You usually break out in a rash, Al. Why? What do you think you're allergic to?"
"Oh, I sort of itch after I've been in Mark's swimming
pool," I said.
"Sounds more like a sun sensitivity to me," said Dad. "Maybe we ought to have the doctor look you over."
"Not!" I said. "Why can't you just give me a note saying I can't get water up my nose?"
"Why should I give you a note?" said Dad. "If you don't want water up your nose, don't put it there."
"Al, if you were allergic to chlorine, you'd start itching every time you took a drink of water," said Lester.
They had me there.
Monday I stayed home from the pool, but the day wasn't a total loss because that night Dad took me to Sears after we ate, and I picked out a bedroom set. My first thought was that since I was probably soon to be an ex-member of the Pool Group, plus I probably wouldn't have another friend for the rest of my natural life, all I needed was a hammock suspended from the ceiling and wicker baskets for clothes. I could fill the rest of the space with plants, so that when I went to my room it would be like going on safari. No one would be able to find me, and I'd never have to clean anything just water it.
Dad suggested I choose a double bed, so if we ever had a houseful of company there would be more sleeping space. I got a double bed with a long low dresser and chest of drawers, and drapes and a bedspread with a jungle motif-lions and leopards mingled with exotic plants. And because I'd chosen one of the least expensive sets, Dad said I really could have a large rubber plant in one corner. He even bought me a pillow shaped like a koala for the bed. The stuff was delivered two days later, and when everything was set up, it looked like the kind of exotic bedroom where Scheherazade would have entertained her sultan.
I had to invite Elizabeth and Pamela for a sleep-over, of course, and they loved the room. They said I had good taste, but you know what's weird? When you're worried about the one big thing that's wrong with you, nothing else seems to matter. I wasn't Alice of the Good Taste or Alice with a Good Sense of Rhythm, but Alice the Girl Who Can't Go in Water Over Her Head. Only nobody knew it, which made it even worse.
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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