The Grooming of Aliceby Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Mark Elliott
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/b>
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.
SOURCE: VOYA, October 2000 (Vol. 23, No. 4)
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, 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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