All but Alice

( 9 )

Overview

There are, Alice decides, 272 horrible things left to happen to her in her life, based on the number of really horrible things that have happened already. She figures that out after the disaster of the talent show. And she realizes that there is no way to fend them off.

But, she reasons, if you don't have a mother, maybe a sister would help. Maybe lots of sisters. A worldwide sisterhood! Sisterhood means more sympathy and less likely odds that the next horrible thing will strike...

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All but Alice

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Overview

There are, Alice decides, 272 horrible things left to happen to her in her life, based on the number of really horrible things that have happened already. She figures that out after the disaster of the talent show. And she realizes that there is no way to fend them off.

But, she reasons, if you don't have a mother, maybe a sister would help. Maybe lots of sisters. A worldwide sisterhood! Sisterhood means more sympathy and less likely odds that the next horrible thing will strike when Alice is by herself. But, Sisterhood also comes with a whole new set of problems for Alice. Can she be Sisters with all three girls who want to be her brother Lester's girlfriend? In fact, how do boys fit into Universal Sisterhood at all? And how far should she you go when being part of the crowd means doing something you don't want to do?

Alice copes with life in her own way, and her solutions to her endless problems are often funny and surprisingly right.

Seventh grader Alice decides that the only way to stave off personal and social disasters is to be part of the crowd, especially the "in" crowd, no matter how boring and, potentially, difficult.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Haley Maness
Alice desperately wants to get her ears pierced and fit in with all of the other seventh grade girls. Having pierced ears symbolizes a big step to growing up for her. Although the days when having your ears pierced as a rite of passage are slightly behind the times, the idea of trying to be inconspicuous in seventh grade is still prominent today. Alice wants to be an "identical twin" to every girl in seventh grade. She easily bonds with all women and potential female role models in her environment. Alice feels the need to have a mother figure in her life after losing her mother when she was young. Alice, like many twelve year olds, is very self-conscious and does not want to draw attention to herself no matter what the cost. Alice sees all of the good in everyone, and is an honest, trustworthy, character that readers will try to emulate. At this difficult transition point in her life, she does not bow to peer pressure but stands up to bullies for what she believes in, creating a role model for young readers. The introduction to the story is repetitive in each addition to the "Alice" series, and a bit tedious, but newcomers to the novels get a good general background of the characters and their histories with one another. A delightful reprint of an old favorite. Reviewer: Haley Maness
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-- In the winter of seventh grade, lovable, motherless Alice McKinley believes that life's problems require the guidance of a wise and kind female. Lacking that, she decides that all females represent a universal sisterhood, and, lemminglike, joins in the popular activities of her peer group. In addition to writing fan letters to stars and buying earrings weekly, Alice tries to feel sisterly solidarity with the women pursuing her older brother, and wishes her father would marry the attractive teacher he has been dating. Alice thinks she's outgrown Patrick, but is soon bored with handsome Brian's pranks; when loyal Patrick is slated for victimization, Alice must reevaluate her decisions. In the end, intelligence and loyalty triumph over superficiality. Only an author of Naylor's nimble skill could hold these ingredients together in a readable, laughable, and, yes, sensitive story. Alice is the same delightful character from The Agony of Alice (Atheneum, 1985), although, naturally, more mature. Carefully structured, strongly characterized, this book is sure to be the most popular yet of the series. Naylor's light, but deft touch with important thematic concerns is most appealing.-- Cindy Darling Codell, Clark Middle School, Winchester, KY
Children's Literature - Haley Maness
Alice desperately wants to get her ears pierced and fit in with all of the other seventh grade girls. Having pierced ears symbolizes a big step to growing up for her. Although the days when having your ears pierced as a rite of passage are slightly behind the times, the idea of trying to be inconspicuous in seventh grade is still prominent today. Alice wants to be an "identical twin" to every girl in seventh grade. She easily bonds with all women and potential female role models in her environment. Alice feels the need to have a mother figure in her life after losing her mother when she was young. Alice, like many twelve year olds, is very self-conscious and does not want to draw attention to herself no matter what the cost. Alice sees all of the good in everyone, and is an honest, trustworthy, character that readers will try to emulate. At this difficult transition point in her life, she does not bow to peer pressure but stands up to bullies for what she believes in, creating a role model for young readers. The introduction to the story is repetitive in each addition to the "Alice" series, and a bit tedious, but newcomers to the novels get a good general background of the characters and their histories with one another. A delightful reprint of an old favorite. Reviewer: Haley Maness
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442427563
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 5/3/2011
  • Series: Alice Series , #4
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 310,609
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

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

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Read an Excerpt

WHAT I'VE decided about life is this: If you don't have a mother, you need a sister. And if you don't have a sister, you need a bulletin board.

Elizabeth Price, across the street, has a room with twin beds, with white eyelet bedspreads on each, a little dressing table and stool, a lamp with a white eyelet ruffle for a shade, and a bulletin board covered with photos of Elizabeth in her ballet costume, her tap shoes and pants, her gymnastic leotards, and her Camp Fire Girl uniform, which isn't too surprising, since there's a huge photograph over the couch in their living room of Elizabeth in her first communion dress.

Pamela Jones, down the next block, has pictures of movie stars and singers on hers. She also has a dried rose, which Mark Stedmeister gave her once, an autograph by Madonna, a pom-pom, which her cousin in New Jersey sent her, and a photograph of her and Mark, taken from behind, with their arms around each other and their hands in each other's hip pockets.

I'd seen those bulletin boards dozens of times when I stayed overnight at Pamela's or Elizabeth's, but suddenly, in the winter of seventh grade, I wanted one of my own more than anything else I could think of.

What I wanted was to know I was growing up normally — that I was in step with every female person in Montgomery County, that I was a part of the great sisterhood of women. I wanted to see the highlights of my life pinned up on the wall. I wanted to make sure I had a life.

"I'd like a bulletin board for my room," I told Dad one night when he was cleaning the broiler.

"Pamela and Elizabeth both have one, and I want a place where I can pin up things."

"I've got an extra one at the store. I'll try to remember to bring it home," he said.

I get a lot of weird things that way. Dad is manager of the Melody Inn, one of a chain of music stores, so he can bring home whatever he wants. Usually it's stuff that's defective or doesn't sell; so far I've got two posters of Prince; one of Mozart; a couple of slightly warped drumsticks, which I gave to Patrick, who used to be my boyfriend; a Beethoven bikini from the Melody Inn Gift Shoppe, which says, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BEETHOVEN, on the seat of the pants, only the print is crooked; and some notepads, with CHOPIN-LISZT printed at the top.

The following afternoon, there was a huge bulletin board, a little dusty, with one corner chipped, hanging on the wall above my bureau.

"It's great!" I told Dad. "Aunt Sally used to have a bulletin board in her kitchen, didn't she? I remember she used to pin up pictures I drew in kindergarten."

"That was your mother, Al." (My name is Alice McKinley — Alice Kathleen McKinley, to be exact — but Dad and Lester call me Al.) "And those were pictures you'd made in nursery school. Don't you remember how your mother kept photos of you and Lester on it too?"

I always manage to do that. Mom died when I was five — four or five, I can't remember which — and I always seem to mix her up with Aunt Sally, who took care of us for a while afterward.

"Yeah, I think I do," I told Dad, but I wasn't really sure.

I set aside the whole evening to work on my bulletin board, and took a box of keepsakes from my closet to see what was worth pinning up — something as wonderful as an autograph by Madonna or a photo of me in a ballet costume. Carefully I scooped things out of the box and spread them around on my bed.

There was an envelope, yellow around the edges. I looked inside: grass. A handful of dry grass. And then I remembered Donald Sheavers back in fourth grade, when we lived in Takoma Park. We were playing Tarzan out in the backyard, and we had a big piece of cardboard for a raft. At some point he was supposed to kiss me, but every time he tried, I got the giggles and rolled off. For a whole afternoon Donald tried to kiss me, and though I wanted him to, it was just too embarrassing. So after he went home, I pulled up a handful of grass from under the cardboard to remember him by.

Stuffing the grass back into the envelope, I picked up a tag off my first pair of Levi's. I'd been wearing Sears Toughskins through most of elementary, and when I got to sixth grade, Lester had taken me to buy some real Levi's. I studied the label now in my hand and tried to imagine Pamela and Elizabeth looking at it in admiration and awe. I put the label on top of the grass.

I couldn't figure out what the next thing was. When I unrolled it, I saw that it was a piece of brown wrapping paper with leaves drawn on it. And then I remembered the sixth-grade play, where Pamela had the lead role — the part I'd wanted — and I had to be a bramble bush instead. I put the brown wrapping paper over by the Levi's label and the grass. It was very discouraging.

Then I felt that sort of thump in the chest you get when you come across something important, and I picked up an envelope with ALICE M. on the front, decorated with drawings of hearts, and airplanes with red stripes on the wings.

Inside was one of those misty-looking photographs of a man and woman walkin through the woods holding hands, and you can't see their faces. At the top, in curly letters, were the words A SPECIAL FEELING WHEN I THINK OF YOU. There weren't any printed words when you opened it up, but someone had written in blue ink, "I like you a lot." A valentine from Patrick from sixth grade! I decided I'd put the card up on my bulletin board but not the envelope. I could never explain the airplanes to Pamela and Elizabeth, because I couldn't understand them myself.

What was left in the box was the wrapper of a 3 Musketeers bar that Patrick had given me; the stub of a train ticket when I'd gone to Chicago to visit Aunt Sally; a ring from my favorite teacher, Mrs. Plotkin; a book of matches from Patrick's country club; and a program from the Messiah sing-along that I had gone to last Christmas, with Dad and my language arts teacher.

This was it! This was my life! I turned the box upside down again and shook it hard to see if an autograph from Michael Jackson or something might fall out, but all I got was a dead moth.

I took thumbtacks and put up the valentine from Patrick, the train ticket stub, Mrs. Plotkin's ring tied to a ribbon, the matchbook, and the program from the Messiah. They hardly filled up one corner.

I clomped downstairs for the Ritz crackers, but Lester had them. He was sitting at the kitchen table over a copy of Rolling Stone.

Dad was drinking some ginger ale. "How's the bulletin board coming?" he asked.

"I think it's too big," I mumbled, flopping down on a chair. "I haven't had enough great moments in life, I guess."

"Well, think about the ones you have had, and see if you can't come up with something," he told me.

"My first bra, my first pair of Levi's," I said. "I suppose I could put the labels up, but there's still three-fourths of the board yet to go."

Lester put a squirt of Cheez Whiz on a cracker and popped it in his mouth. "You could hang your whole bra and jeans on the bulletin board and then you wouldn't have any space left at all," he said.

I gave him a look. Lester's only twenty, but he's got a mustache, and girls go crazy over him. Don't ask me why, but they do. Right at that very moment he had a blob of Cheez Whiz in his mustache.

"Keep thinking," I told him.

"Remember when Patrick took you to the country club?" Lester said. "When you got home, you discovered you'd stuffed one of their cloth napkins in your purse. That'd be good for a twelve-inch square of space."

I was desperate. "I can't have Pamela and Elizabeth over just to see a label off my jeans and a train ticket! I've hardly got anything at all." I threw back my head and wailed: "My life is a blank bulletin board!"

Lester put down his magazine. "Al," he said, "what you do is you take off all your clothes, drag your bulletin board out in the street, and take an ax to it. By tomorrow morning, you'll have a policeman's jacket, a hospital ID bracelet, and a newspaper story to add to your collection. Maybe even a photograph of you in the policeman's jacket, climbing into the back of a paddy wagon. I guarantee it."

I stomped back upstairs and sat glaring at the near-empty bulletin board. Chances were, in another year, I wouldn't even want some of the things that were up there now!

And then it came to me that I would probably have this bulletin board until I was through college. I was twelve, and if I graduated when I was twenty-one, that was nine more years. It wasn't as though my life was over. It was still being written, and the thing about bulletin boards-the reason for bulletin boards-was you could change things around. Add and subtract. Then I didn't feel so bad.

The phone rang. It was Pamela. "Guess what?" she said breathlessly.

"You got a newer, bigger bulletin board," I guessed.

"No. Mother said I can start wearing different earrings now, Alice! I don't have to go on wearing these little gold balls I've had since third grade. I can wear wires if I want. Even loops! You want to go shopping with us this weekend?"

I knew right then I could not go another year, another month, another week even, without pierced ears. Whatever Pamela did, that's what I'd do. Whatever Elizabeth had, that's what I wanted. Always before, Dad and I smiled secretly at the kids who came in the music store all dressed alike, all wearing black, all with an earring in one ear and the same kind of makeup. I'd think how stupid it was to try to be a copy of someone else.

But suddenly it was happening to me. I was turning into a lemming! If all the girls in junior high suddenly raced to the roof and plunged madly over the edge, I would be sailing off into space with them.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2003

    She did it Agian

    Alice thinks that she has to do all this thing to stay popluar. So she stuggles for with that. And Dad and Lester's love lives keep Alice running in the book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2012

    Plese Please get it

    Good

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2006

    GREAT book

    i love all the alice books they are awesome she is a great author.i am sad that the series are almost ended

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2002

    In or Out

    "Dad can i get my ears pierced?" Alice asked. ALice lives with her dad and brother, no mom, she usually lookes upto her aunt for help and wise decisions. Joining clubs and groups in school seems like the cool thing. After a while it is getting old. Alice tells her friends tht she wants to quit. her friends don't seem to care. She is still in the famous eight, a crowd they call themselves. She getts a kiss from a guy, but doesn't know if he likes her. Shes a true 7th grader. ALice changes frim a girl not being herslef just want others want her to be. To a girl who shows the real her by the end of the story. The setting in mostly in school, home, or on the bus. That does work for the story because that is where most people hang out in teh th grade. The theme is be your self and don't let lothers change that. True friends will still be there for you.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2002

    Pretty Good!

    I think this book was really good. A lot of people should read it!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2000

    Alice is the most exciting and funniest book character

    I like the Alice books so much I think that Phyllis Raynolds Naylor has real talant for writing such Fabulous books. Plus she came up with very cool characters with wonderful personalitys. I love these books I can read them over and over!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2000

    Alice the....

    I just finished reading this book and it shows something very true! I loved it. It was my first Alice book and I want to read more or them!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2000

    It was pretty good

    This Alice book was good, but not my favorite ( Alice in April).. it wasn't as exciting or something. Anyways, I still recommend reading it if you like to read in order. I liked the lesson in it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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