The Mysterious Case of the Allbright Academy

The Mysterious Case of the Allbright Academy

4.1 11
by Diane Stanley

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Franny is thrilled when she's accepted by the Allbright Academy, an elite private boarding school designed to train leaders. But she knows she's not as smart as the other kids there—or as beautiful, accomplished, confident, or mature. The fact is, the Allbright students—from their shining teeth and flawless complexions to their sky-high test scores and


Franny is thrilled when she's accepted by the Allbright Academy, an elite private boarding school designed to train leaders. But she knows she's not as smart as the other kids there—or as beautiful, accomplished, confident, or mature. The fact is, the Allbright students—from their shining teeth and flawless complexions to their sky-high test scores and long lists of honors—are absolutely perfect. Then the Allbright magic begins to rub off on Franny, too. The question is: Is this a good thing?

Can Franny and her friends Cal, Brooklyn, and Prescott un-ravel the Allbright Academy's secret, or will they, too, succumb to its eerie perfection?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Reassembling the cast of The Mysterious Matter of I.M. Fine, Stanley delivers another humorous and thoroughly enjoyable mystery, this time set at a too-good-to-be-true school. When Franny Sharp's younger sister, Zoë, is recruited to attend Allbright Academy, a prestigious boarding school founded by two famous scientists, she refuses to attend unless her twin, J.D., and Franny can come, too. That's how Franny, who believes herself solidly ordinary, finds herself starting eighth grade surrounded by the best-looking group of overachievers she's ever seen. Intimidated at first by her award-winning classmates, she quickly bonds with fellow new students Cal (short for Calpurnia) and Brooklyn, and starts to flourish. In fact, Franny's never felt smarter, looked better or worked harder in her life. But when Cal falls sick and has to leave the campus for a few weeks, she stumbles upon an unsettling discovery. Just what do the ever-present Allbright brownies have to do with making Allbright students so painfully perfect in every way? With sympathetic Franny as narrator and a time-tested premise, Stanley hooks readers from the start, and she keeps them going with characters whose names hint at their true natures (besides the Salinger-inspired Sharp kids, the players include Martha Evergood, Prescott Bottomy and Dr. Horace Gallow). And although some answers to the mystery are obvious early on, the conclusion does not disappoint. Ages 8-12. (Jan.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger
Franny is convinced she has only been accepted at Allbright Academy, a private boarding school, because the school wanted her sister and her mother wanted the children to stay together. Before long, however, she begins to get caught up in the Allbright way and having more and more in common with the other students. In fact, Franny is fitting in so well at Allbright Academy she does not realize how much she has changed. Then a friend from her "old" life accuses her of being a "fake, perfect robot-person." And then an Allbright friend leaves the school for a stay in the hospital and seems really different. What is it about the school that makes everyone change their behavior? Cal thinks there is something funny about Allbright's favorite food: brownies. Could brownies explain what is going on at Allbright? And should Franny and her friends do anything about it? A funny story that gives preteens an interesting view of the dangers of striving to be just like everyone else. Reviewer: Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger
School Library Journal

Gr 5-7- Frannie knows that she got into Allbright Academy only because the directors were desperate to recruit her brilliant younger sister, who refused to come without her. The prestigious boarding school generally admits only handpicked students, the "leaders of tomorrow," as the headmaster constantly reinforces. Although the campus is beautiful, with state-of-the-art facilities, a challenging program, and excellent food-including the school's traditional brownies-Frannie finds the place unnervingly perfect. Outside influences and contact are discouraged and there is a disturbing emphasis on group conformity. The kids are unfailingly polite, neat, and focused, and, most of all, compliant. When Frannie realizes that she is slipping into the Allbright "persona" herself, she begins to suspect that there is something sinister going on. She discovers that the brownies contain a behavior-modification drug, calculated to make the students more "receptive" to indoctrination. For decades, the school has been programming them for important positions in business, government, and the media. Not only are current students being "moderated," but key graduates are invited back periodically for a refresher course of drugs and direction. Can Frannie and her friends fight back and expose the school's plot to control the future of the country in time? This suspenseful story features an all-too-plausible conflict between authoritarian control and personal freedom. The action is brisk and exciting, with authentic and often insightful dialogue. There is also a strong underlying theme of individual courage and self-determination.-Elaine E. Knight, Lincoln Elementary Schools, IL

Copyright 2008Reed Business Information.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Mysterious Case of the Allbright Academy

Chapter One

So there we were, all five of us, barreling down the road in the pitch-black dark, early on a Saturday morning. We were headed for the Allbright Academy, a school we'd never heard of till the week before, but which we hoped to attend in the fall.

Sounds crazy, I know. Looking back, I can't believe we ever thought it was a good idea. I guess we were just so dazzled by Martha Evergood's phone call that we simply lost our wits. (And yeah, I do mean that Martha Evergood, the first woman to be secretary of state and a genuine hero to every female on the planet.)

Dr. Evergood had been the guest speaker at a junior leadership conference that my sister, Zoë, went to in D.C. At the closing banquet they were seated at the same table, and Zoë proceeded to charm the socks off her, something Zoë has a natural tendency to do. Now, Dr. Evergood happened to be on the board of directors of the Allbright Academy, and Zoë struck her as a perfect candidate for the school. So Dr. Evergood picked up the phone and called their admissions people, urging them to get Zoë out there for testing ASAP.

The very next day the director of admissions called Mom and invited Zoë to apply. Apparently the invitation alone was a big deal. Allbright didn't let just anybody come out there to take the test—only very special students. And Mom shouldn't worry about expenses, either, he said. If Zoë was accepted, she would be on full scholarship!

Mom was really blown away by this, and clearly didn't know quite how to respond to it. Her end of theconversation started out kind of like this:

"Oh . . . um . . . well . . . really? . . . Gosh!" Finally she got herself together and explained to the admissions guy that Zoë had a twin brother, J. D., as well as a big sister, Franny. (That's me, of course.) Mom doubted that Zoë would be willing to go to Allbright if she had to go without us.

No problem, the man said. We could come take the test too.

We were still deep in amazement over that call when the phone rang again. This time it was Dr. Evergood, herself, in person. Mom actually held her hand over her heart as she stood there listening to this very famous lady talk about how remarkable Zoë was and how Mom and Dad really ought to send her to this very special school. Allbright, Dr. Evergood explained, had been founded by two Nobel Prize–winning scientists for the specific purpose of developing the gifts of kids like Zoë, kids with special talents who would grow up to be our country's next generation of leaders.

"Please consider Allbright very seriously," Dr. Evergood said. "I think your daughter has enormous potential. She deserves the best education possible."

Really, after a sales pitch like that, how could we say no?

Now, I don't want you to think, from what I said earlier about losing our wits, that my family is totally nuts. I mean, yes, we were completely starstruck over Dr. Evergood's call. And, yes, we did make what seems like a pretty impulsive decision. But we did give the matter some thought first.

Mom and Dad said we were awfully young to be going to boarding school, especially the twins. And we had always been public school people. But this was clearly an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and though they would miss us terribly, we could go if we wanted to. It was up to us.

We weren't sure we were ready to go to boarding school either. And besides, we had moved a lot over the years, because of Dad's job, and we were sick of changing schools. Under normal circumstances, we would have turned down Allbright's offer on the spot, no matter how many Nobel Prize winners had founded it.

But these weren't normal circumstances. It was almost as though fate had arranged for us to go to the Allbright Academy so we could discover the things that we did, and save the country from disaster. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Let me just say that, only the week before, we had learned that the twins' school would be closing the following year, to be remodeled and turned into a high school. Zoë and J. D. would be going someplace new anyway. Then, the year after that, they would be moving a second time, to middle school. At least at Allbright they could stay in one place till it was time for them to go to college.

My situation was different. H. L. Mencken Middle School was brand-new and I would be staying there for three years. Unfortunately, my best (and I have to be honest here—only) friend, Beamer, would not. He was transferring to a special magnet program for the arts. So in a way, I'd be starting over again too, at least socially.

So those turned out to be the tipping points. Since Allbright was supposed to be so fantastic, why not start over there? Or at the very least, we ought to drive out to the school and check the place out.

The campus of the Allbright Academy is in a quiet, woodsy corner of Maryland, a two-and-a-half-hour drive from our house in Baltimore. Since we were supposed to be there by eight, we'd left home around five fifteen. That meant that we'd had to set our alarms for four fifteen, to allow time for all of us to shower, pack, and eat breakfast. Naturally, the twins and I went back to sleep as soon as we hit the road. We pulled into the visitors' parking lot a little before eight. I had been dreaming that my above-mentioned friend, Beamer, was trapped on the roof of a school, which in my dream I knew to be the Allbright Academy, and which was on fire. I was frantic to save him. Then the engine stopped and I woke up.

The Mysterious Case of the Allbright Academy. Copyright © by Diane Stanley. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. <%END%>

Meet the Author

Diane Stanley is the author and illustrator of beloved books for young readers, including The Silver Bowl, which was named a best book of the year by Kirkus Reviews and Book Links Lasting Connections and was an ALA Booklist Editors' Choice; The Cup and the Crown; The Princess of Cortova; Saving Sky, winner of the Arab American National Museum's Arab American Book Award and a Bank Street College of Education Best Book of the Year; Bella at Midnight, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year and an ALA Booklist Editors' Choice; The Mysterious Case of the Allbright Academy; The Mysterious Matter of I. M. Fine; and A Time Apart. She is also well known as the author and illustrator of award-winning picture book biographies.

Ms. Stanley has also written and illustrated numerous picture books, including three creatively reimagined fairy tales: The Giant and the Beanstalk, Goldie and the Three Bears, and Rumpelstiltskin's Daughter. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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Mysterious Case of the Allbright Academy 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I also like the second book "the mystery of i.m." fine i think. This story has like no romance except for one distant part and they dont go too deep into that. Horrible part is that they are poisening kids with BROWNIES! Of all the evil things they are poisening kids with brownies. How awful. But Franny, Prescott,Cal, and that poet guy whose name escapes and me at the moment stop them! It is really good with tons of twists and surprises! I think that if you like mysteries you will LOVE this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was the best book ever
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Carson Kringlen More than 1 year ago
I love the characters and the story seems real Litteraly
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is an outstanding story by the incredibly wonderful author, Diane Stanley. It's a mystery with a very important and unique moral. You'll love it. Trust me.