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The Grooming of Alice

The Grooming of Alice

4.7 17
by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

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Growing up—and slimming down—is the tricky proposition in this repackaged installment of the beloved Alice series.

The summer before ninth grade is all about getting it right—from head to toe. Alice and her friends want to start high school feeling like they always imagined a true high schooler feels: confident, capable, and pretty. But


Growing up—and slimming down—is the tricky proposition in this repackaged installment of the beloved Alice series.

The summer before ninth grade is all about getting it right—from head to toe. Alice and her friends want to start high school feeling like they always imagined a true high schooler feels: confident, capable, and pretty. But a little too much time standing in front of a mirror in their bathing suits makes Alice, Pamela, and Elizabeth feel the exact opposite of ready for high school. They have two-and-half months to transform themselves—but when Elizabeth starts taking the weight-loss plan too seriously, Alice worries that growing up (and slimming down) isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

As Alice stumbles her way through the minefield of early adolescence, there are plenty of bumps, giggles, and surprises along the way. Every girl should grow up with Alice, and with this irresistible new look, a whole new generation will want to.

Editorial Reviews

The summer before high school Alice and her friends Pamela and Elizabeth decide they need to shape up, so they go on a diet and start running every morning. Elizabeth takes it to extremes and starts to get too thin. Her mother treats the three girls to a special seminar at the Y for girls only in which they get a day's worth of straight talk about nutrition, body shapes and sizes, and some graphic lessons about how body parts vary tremendously from one person to another and that all the variations are normal. Alice's older brother Lester is dating a thin, beautifully groomed young woman and Alice doesn't feel comfortable around her—it turns out that Lester doesn't either. Pamela has some problems living with her ever-critical father now that her mother has run off to Colorado to start a new life. Alice has work as a volunteer at the local hospital, where she re-connects with her beloved 6th grade teacher, but unfortunately the teacher is seriously ill. Alice is growing up, slowly but surely, as are her friends. And her legion of fans will eat up this installment, as Naylor takes Alice from one joy, one sorrow, to another. This series is so superior to any other for middle-school-aged girls—with intelligent, thoughtful characters and frank, totally believable situations. At the end of the summer (and this book) Alice's father announces that he and Miss Summers will marry in the next year, so Alice's story will continue to evolve and her life will be full of changes that she will face with her usual enthusiasm and curiosity. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2000, Simon & Schuster/Atheneum, 215p, 99-32184, $16.00. Ages 13 to 15. Reviewer:Claire Rosser; July 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 4)
Children's Literature
In this installment of the Alice saga, Alice and her friends have finally reached adolescence. During the summer between eighth and ninth grade, Alice and her two best friends, Pamela and Elizabeth, decide to get into shape. Unfortunately, Elizabeth takes their routine too seriously and develops a serious eating disorder. Alice is happily dating someone, but she does not know how to handle the new feelings she's experiencing. Her volunteer work at the hospital brings her joy as well as sorrow as she deals with a dear friend's illness. If those problems were not enough, her father wants to remarry, and Pamela moves away, causing Alice to deceive her father in a way she never has before. Naylor's Alice has always been a delightful character with issues young readers can relate to. So too with this book. All of Alice's problems resonate with authenticity. What will Alice confront next? 2000, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Ages 10 to 14, $16.00. Reviewer: Rebecca Joseph
This twelfth book in the Alice series is just as enjoyable as the first. Those readers who have watched Alice growing up since Naylor began the series in 1985 with The Agony of Alice (Atheneum) feel as if she is a sister/friend/daughter/niece. This installment takes place during the summer between eighth and ninth grades, and Alice is still seeing Patrick. Alice and her best friends, Pamela and Elizabeth, decide to get into shape by running every morning. Pamela, who is dealing with her parents' recent divorce, becomes obsessed and begins to show symptoms of anorexia. Pamela eventually runs away from home, and by helping her, Alice gets them both in trouble. Alice's summer volunteer position at the hospital forces her to deal with the death of a favorite former teacher, which in turn causes her to worry when her brother and father go on vacation. Of course, these events are not all that occurs within the pages of this volume. As usual, Alice's father and brother each have their own adventures, which have an impact on Alice. Alice comes to realize that her actions have an effect on them as well. Naylor again succeeds in packing a lot of activity into this book while still managing to write a realistic, engaging novel. VOYA CODES: 5Q 5P M J (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Every YA (who reads) was dying to read it yesterday; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2000, Simon & Schuster, 224p, $16. Ages 12 to 15. Reviewer: Marlyn Roberts

SOURCE: VOYA, October 2000 (Vol. 23, No. 4)

School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-Alice and her friends are determined to make the summer before high school the best one of their lives. Their main goal is to make their bodies perfect. However, as the summer goes on, the girls find out they have a lot of growing to do-and most of it is internal, not external. Pamela learns how to live with her father now that her mother has left the family. Elizabeth obsesses over her weight, and Alice tries to help her friends, as well as deal with the death of her former teacher, Mrs. Plotkin, and with her sexual feelings toward her boyfriend, Patrick. Naylor has created an engaging story with strong, three-dimensional characters. The issues the girls face are common among adolescents, and as they learn from their experiences, so will readers. The author includes candid information on topics such as sex, physical development in adolescence, and eating disorders in a way that makes it completely accessible to readers. Alice is a likable protagonist; fans of the series will enjoy this latest installment and newcomers will want to go back and read about her previous adventures.-Dina Sherman, Brooklyn Children's Museum, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Kirkus Reviews
Alice continues to model safe, commonsensical ways of navigating the foggy shoals of adolescence, as the summer before high school brings crises, comedy, beginnings, endings, and new life skills. Actually, Alice, with a rewarding new job as a candy striper and a boyfriend who turns out to be as good a cook as he is a kisser, has it pretty good. It's those around her—older brother Lester, whose new squeeze is an imperious fashion plate, best buddies Elizabeth and Pamela, the former veering toward anorexia, the latter struggling through a stormy relationship with her father—who provide most of the angst. As usual, though, Alice provides most of the theater, and before this voyage ends she has helped teach Elizabeth how to use a tampon; learned to administer a self-examination ("Well, I said to my privates, Nice to meet you"); rides out the death of her beloved sixth-grade teacher; and hits a crest of joy when her father and junior-high English teacher Sylvia Summers finally—finally!—announce their engagement. Sailing through her 12th "Alice" with nary a sign of series fatigue, Naylor, as usual, masterfully imparts physical, social, and emotional information while bringing readers to tears and laughter. (Fiction. 11-14)

Product Details

Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Alice Series , #12
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

From Chapter One: The Program

"It's going to be one of the most exciting summers of our lives," Pamela used to tell Elizabeth and me whenever we thought about the summer between eighth and ninth grades. "All the stupid things we've ever done will be behind us, and all the wonderful stuff will be waiting to happen."

But now, on the first day of vacation, as the three of us stood in our bathing suits in front of the full-length mirror in Elizabeth's bedroom, we realized that the same bodies were going into high school along with us, the same faults, the same personalities, some of the same problems we'd had before.

Elizabeth, with her long dark hair and lashes, her gorgeous skin, broke the silence first. "I'm fat!" she said in dismay. "Look at me!"

We looked. She was the same beautiful Elizabeth she'd always been, except that her face and arms were slightly rounder, but she was pointing to her thighs, which puffed out just a little below her suit.

"Saddlebags! I have saddlebag thighs!" she cried. "My legs look like jodhpurs!"

They didn't, of course, but before I could say a word, I heard murmurs on the other side of me coming from Pamela. Pamela is pretty, too, though not as drop-dead beautiful as Elizabeth. She's naturally blond, and wears her hair in a short feather-cut, like Peter Pan. It always seemed to me as though Pamela Jones had the perfect figure, but it didn't seem that way to Pamela.

"I have absolutely no definition," she observed.

"Huh?" I said. Were these girls nuts?

"My arms and legs are like pudding! One part looks the same as the rest."

"Pamela, anyone can tell your arm from your leg," I told her.

"But youcan't tell what's fat and what's muscle!"

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "People just want to look at you, Pamela. They don't want to dissect you!"

Pamela, however, meant business. "Well, I certainly need to do some toning," she said.

"And I want to lose this fat," said Elizabeth. "What do you want to change, Alice?"

Friends, I thought. But I just took a good, long look at myself in the mirror and thought about it. I've got the same color hair as my mom had, they tell me -- strawberry blond. Mom died when I was small, and I don't remember much about her, but they say she was tall and liked to sing. I'm more on the short side, and can't even carry a tune. I'm not fat, but I'm not thin. I'm more plain than I am pretty, but I'm not ugly. Miss Average, that's me.

"I don't know," I said finally. "What do you guys think I should change?"

You should never ask anyone that. You're just begging for worries you never had before.

"Well, if you want an honest opinion, your waist is a little thick, Alice," said Elizabeth. One thing about Elizabeth, she's loyal to a fault. You ask her to tell you something, she tells.

"And your legs are too straight," said Pamela. "I mean, you don't have to be ashamed of them or anything, but your calves hardly have any curve."

"Your breasts could be a little fuller," said Elizabeth. "Of course, they're bigger than mine...."

"And your arms have no definition at all," Pamela finished.

It's really weird, you know? Five minutes before, I had put on my bathing suit, ready to go over to Mark Stedmeister's pool with the gang, feeling really good about myself and my friends, and suddenly I was disintegrating before my very eyes! I had this new royal blue bathing suit that looked great with my hair, and now nothing looked right.

"There's only one solution," said Pamela. "We've got to start an exercise program. We've got exactly two and a half months to get ourselves in shape before school begins. Because how ever you look when you start ninth grade, that's how people will think of you for the next four years."

Now that was a sobering thought. I don't know where Pamela comes up with stuff like this, but she's got a cousin in New Jersey who knows all about what they think in New York, so we learn a lot from her. What we don't get from Pamela's cousin, I get from my cousin Carol in Chicago, who's two years older than Lester, my brother, and used to be married to a sailor.

I'd never seen Pamela quite so gung ho as she was now.

"If we get up at seven each morning for the next ten weeks...," she began.

"Seven!" I wailed.

"Well, eight, maybe. And we jog for three miles..."

"In public?" Elizabeth gasped.

We stared. One reason we like Elizabeth is that her whole world sort of spins on a different axis.

"I suppose we could jog nine hundred times around your room, if you'd prefer," Pamela said dryly. "But if we spend the next ten weeks jogging every morning with ankle weights, and do push-ups, we might look reasonably good by the time we start high school. And no ice cream. No chips. No Oreos or anything like that."

I looked first at Pamela and then at Elizabeth. No ice cream, no chips, and jogging three miles with ankle weights? This was a summer?

Elizabeth shook her head. "I don't want anyone to see me sweat," she declared.

"If you jog, you're going to sweat, Elizabeth!" Pamela told her. "You have to sweat! You're supposed to sweat! If you don't sweat, the fat will stay right there, and you'll keep those saddlebag thighs forever."

I looked at Elizabeth's face and wished Pamela hadn't said that. It's one thing to talk about saddlebags yourself, but something else to hear your friends say it.

Copyright © 2000 by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Meet the Author

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

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Grooming of Alice 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is definitely the best alice book so far, i have read them all except achingly alice This book had a lot of important events iin alices life It was funny and and overall a great book and series
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a big reader soooo i've read a lot of books.......and this is like the best series ever!! I totally love it....
Heidi_G More than 1 year ago
It's the summer between eighth and ninth grades and Alice, Elizabeth, and Pamela plan to hang out with their friends, work a few hours a week, and get in shape. Their early-morning runs and vows to eat healthier foods takes a dramatic turn when Elizabeth begins to look like skin and bones. Alice experiences the loss of her favorite teacher and Pamela has problems living with her dad. The three girls attend a workshop for girls only in which body issues are discussed, including weight and sexuality. Anatomically correct terms are used to describe both male and female body parts which might make preteen readers squirm, but they are right on target for 13-year-olds. Recommended for grades 7+. Thanks to Puget Sound Council for the review copy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was probably one of my favorite alice books. It was very iteresting and hard to put down. I thought that it was extremely well written. It went through a lot of ups and downs in Alices life but It was very good.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This has to be one of the best Alice books. Why? Well, one of young girls' problems, from preteens to teens to grown women, is body image. Some people have different ideas of what beauty is - of what a fit or perfect body looks like. And it just so happens that Alice and her friends, the summer before ninth grade, are facing this problem. The vow Alice takes along with her friends to not eat junk food and exercise are short-lived for her. Pamela is a bit more dedicated. Elizabeth is frighteningly dedicated due to a remark made by Justin Collier, a boy she likes. Instead of taking it as a joke, she allows it to quickly crush her esteem, and, I think, her sanity as well. Body image isn't the only issue here. Pamela and her family are suffering because of her mother running away with a Nordic Track instructor. Elizabeth is appearing ghastly thin. The three girls go to a seminar and come to realize that what makes us all so beautiful is our differences and that we are all 'normal!' Great book - I'd recommend it for ages 12 and up.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is by far one of the best books. Every time I hear one is coming out I check the internet every day to see when!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is possibly the best Alice book yet. Perfect for a girl any age, this fabulously fantasuper-de-duper book takes you through hilarious times with Alice and her friends. Check out the other great Alice books too!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I used to LOVE the books in the Alice series, but after reading Alice on the Outside, I didn't really like them any more. I thought it was gross and totally uncalled for. I didn't really think I would read one again, but the other day at the library, I picked it up and started reading it to see if it was any good. I finished it in about three hours I liked it so much...but I think I like the old ones more.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this was one of the best alice books i have read.i remember the day i got my first alice book i was looking in the bookstore and picked up outrageously alice it was really good but this one was the best.I think phyllis should write more and more alice books cause they are the best books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book is sooo good! i love how funny and realistic it is! you should definatly read this!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow, this is the coolest book indeed. How else to illustrate life's down side than this great book by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. If you're looking for a good book, than this is the place to start!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a good book. I think Phyllis should write more books like this one, because this book was the longest one, and the others are too short!! I hate the way there's a new one every YEAR! and paperbacks dont come out until half a year AFTER the book was out in hardback! it sucks! But all the Alice books are THE BEST!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
this was such an awsome book!!! this awthor is sooooo good!!! she should wirte more alice books
Guest More than 1 year ago
Will it ever come out in paperback so i can buy it!?!?
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of naylor best books for teenagers. i personally loved it