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Starting with Alice

Starting with Alice

4.7 15
by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

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Alice at EIGHT—and boy was she a pistol! The very youngest book in the beloved series gets a makeover.

Eight-year-old Alice McKinley wants pierced ears, really long hair, a pet, and, most of all, a mother. Oh, and some friends would be nice. As the new girl in third grade, Alice doesn’t know a single kid in Takoma Park, Maryland, except her


Alice at EIGHT—and boy was she a pistol! The very youngest book in the beloved series gets a makeover.

Eight-year-old Alice McKinley wants pierced ears, really long hair, a pet, and, most of all, a mother. Oh, and some friends would be nice. As the new girl in third grade, Alice doesn’t know a single kid in Takoma Park, Maryland, except her next-door neighbor Donald Sheavers, who is not only a boy, but seems a bit peculiar, too! Desperate to meet people, Alice learns that making friends is harder than it seems when she runs into a group of girls whom she nicknames the “Terrible Triplets” after they make it very clear that they do not want to get to know Alice.

As Alice navigates the ins and outs of third grade, 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

Publishers Weekly
Alice fans (and their younger friends) are in for a treat as Phyllis Reynolds Naylor turns back the clock on the popular series hero: Starting with Alice documents the ups and downs of Alice's third-grade year. Two additional prequels are planned, to bring the younger Alice up to the point where the original series opener, Alice in Agony, begins (see Children's Books, p. 27). (Sept.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-In this first of a trilogy of prequels, the author of the "Alice" books takes readers back to the protagonist's arrival in Takoma Park, MD. Alice gets off to a rough start at her new school, where she meets three girls who snub her and soon become her enemies. She also gets in trouble for lying to her classmates about how her uncle died, and for disobeying a crossing guard. Gradually, though, she finds reasons to like her new environment, including friends Rosalind and Sara and her father's gift of a kitten, and she discovers that it is easier to be a friend than an enemy, even when the enemies are the Terrible Triplets. At eight years of age, Alice is as thoughtful and engaging as her older self. Naylor captures the problems of starting over while coping with the everyday woes of teasing and managing friendships. The otherwise light tone of the book changes suddenly in the middle when Uncle Charlie dies of a heart attack just after Alice and her family return home from his wedding. While this sudden plot twist is a little jarring, Alice's feelings are presented in a believable, sensitive manner. Elementary-school girls will enjoy this introduction, while older fans may be curious enough about the spunky heroine to read about her earlier exploits.-Ashley Larsen, Woodside Library, CA

Product Details

Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Alice Series
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.16(w) x 7.48(h) x 0.64(d)
Age Range:
7 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 5: Riding with Lester

When I got home from school on Monday, I found that Dad had taken Lester out of school over the lunch hour to get his learner's permit, and they were getting ready now for their first driving lesson.

"But here's the deal," Dad said. "And, Alice, the same goes for you when you get to be sixteen. Once you actually get your license, you can't have anyone in the car with you except family for the first six months. After that, if you don't get a ticket or have an accident during that time -- even a fender bender -- then you can have a friend or two along. But not until then."

"Daaaad!" Lester howled. But Dad was firm.

"What about you, Alice?" Dad said, looking at me. "Do you want to go over to the Sheaverses' while we're out, or do you want to come along for Lester's driving lesson?"

I was playing with Oatmeal and had to think about it a minute. If Lester was going to wreck the car, did I want to die along with my family or be left behind as an orphan?

"I guess I'll go," I said. "But be careful, Lester. I'm just a little girl with my whole life ahead of me."

"Hey, I want to live too," Lester said. "And I already know the basics. It's not like I can't steer or anything."

Dad just grunted. "Les, get the broom and mop, and Alice, bring up the two metal buckets from the basement."

Sometimes Dad doesn't make any sense at all. Lester was going to drive the car, not wash it. But we put all the stuff in the trunk, and Dad drove to the parking lot of a large restaurant that was closed on Mondays. He got out and came around on the passenger side, and Lester climbed over into the driver's seat. I sat up on my knees in the backseat so that whenLester crashed into something, I could see it coming.

"Sit down, Al. Your head's blocking the rear window," Lester said.

I sat down and fastened my seat belt.

"Okay," said Dad. "Start the engine, press the clutch pedal down, and practice shifting through all the gears."

Lester started the car. I could hear his big sneakers squeaking against each other as they took their places on the pedals.

"Dad, when are we going to get an automatic?" he grumbled.

"When we get a new car, which won't be for a while now, so stop complaining," Dad said. "Now ease the clutch out in first gear and practice going forward, then reverse."

Lester's shoes clumped and squeaked again, and the Honda shot forward.

"Wheeee!" I cried.

"Easy on the gas," said Dad.

Lester braked and this time we shot forward.

"Not so hard on the brake," said Dad.

It didn't take long for Lester to get the hang of just how hard to press the pedals, and he practiced driving around the empty lot, making turns and back-

ing up.

"Okay. Let's do some parallel parking," said Dad. "Stop the car."

He got out, opened the trunk, and put the buckets about twenty feet apart, six feet out from the curb in front of the restaurant. Then he set the broom in one, the mop in the other. This time I got out because I wanted to watch Lester try to park between the buckets.

"Okay, Les," Dad said, getting back in the car. "Pull up past the first bucket, then back into the space between them."

I watched the car jerk forward. Lester forgot to put it in reverse. Then the car stopped and slowly started to move backward. But it swung in too far and the tires bumped the curb. I waved my arms dramatically and pretended I'd been hit.

Lester rolled down his window. "Cut it out, Alice!" he said. He pulled the car forward again and tried to park between the buckets. This time he knocked over the broom. I cheered.

"Alice," said Dad, getting out to set the broom back up again, "be a helper, not a hindrance."

I didn't know what a hindrance was, but I'll bet it wasn't good. So I took off my jacket and hung it on the broom handle so Lester could see it better.

He tried again. This time he carefully maneuvered past the broom, but he hit the mop. I tried to keep a straight face as I set the mop up again.

"Shut up," Lester said to me, even though I hadn't said a word.

He tried again, and still again, but he never did a very good job of parking. "It's not like real parking, Dad," he said. "I need real cars to practice on."

"Not yet, you don't," said Dad.

"Well, at least let me drive around the neighborhood," Lester begged.

"I suppose you can handle that," said Dad.

I helped put the buckets and stuff back in the trunk and climbed in the backseat again. "Don't hit any little children, Lester." I laughed. I thought how funny it would be if I had a lipstick and wrote outside the car window, Help! I'm being kidnapped! Maybe a police car would see it and pull Lester over. Or if I had a paper sack and blew it up and popped it, and Lester would think he'd blown a tire.

Lester drove slowly up and down the streets of our neighborhood and was doing just fine until he came to a stoplight at the top of a hill. It turned red just as we reached it, and Lester put on the brake.

"Oh, boy," I heard Dad breathe out. "Now, this might be a little tricky, Les."

It was. When the light turned green and Lester took his foot off the brake, the car started rolling backward. I screamed.

"Alice, will you stop!" Lester yelled, slamming on the brakes, and we all jerked forward.

"You've got to let out the clutch about the same time you're taking your foot off the brake and giving it gas," Dad told him. "It takes practice, Les. Just go slow and easy."

But when Lester took his foot off the brake a second time, the car rolled backward again. The car behind us honked, and Lester slammed on the brakes a second time. I put my head down on the seat so he couldn't see I was laughing.

"Try it again, Lester," Dad said calmly. "Take your left foot off the clutch and your right foot off the brake and try to do it together. Give it gas before it starts to roll."

This time the car shot forward, but the light changed and we had to stop all over again, sticking out into the intersection so that cars had to swerve around us.

"Dad, why don't we get a car with power brakes and power steering?" Lester cried.

"Because it's good for you to know how to drive all kinds of cars," Dad said. "Don't get rattled, now. Everyone was a beginner once."

"Even you?" I asked. "Who taught you to drive, Dad?"

"Charlie, my favorite brother. He is a lot older than me and made a good teacher."

We waited for the light to turn green again. Now there were three other cars backed up behind us, not just one.

The light turned green, and Lester was so anxious to make it that he moved his feet too fast and killed the engine. The car behind us made a U-turn and went tearing off in the opposite direction. So did the car behind it.

"Easy does it, Lester," Dad said.

I wanted to laugh, but then I remembered how long it had taken me to learn to ride a two-wheeler. I think it was Uncle Milt who bought a bike for me after Mother died, and it was Lester who ran along beside me while I rode to help me keep my balance. It was Lester who taught me to whistle, too, and to blow bubble gum. Who made me my first pair of tin-can stilts.

I sat up very straight in the backseat so Lester could see that I wasn't laughing at him. The next time the light turned green, Lester pulled out into the intersection and made it through, a little jerkily, but at least no one honked.

"Good job, Lester," I said.

We stayed out for another half hour, and Lester did everything right. He pulled in the driveway when we got home as smoothly as a train coming into a station.

"You're going to be a great driver, Lester, and I'll go with you anywhere," I said. "Even Niagara Falls."

"Very good, indeed!" said Dad.

Lester was practically crowing when he got out and went right to the phone to call his friends.

Dad was in a good mood too, so I thought maybe it was the right time to ask for something for myself.

"Next week, can we get my ears pierced?" I asked.

Dad lowered his newspaper and stared at me over the business page. "Don't even think it," he said.

Copyright © 2002 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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Starting with Alice 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is one that anyone who likes a good story will love. I read this book in a day and I am dying to read the rest of the series. I used to not like reading until I read this book. I would recommend this to anyone who doesn't like reading. It will make you like reading for the rest of your life!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! I read it in one day! ( I couldn't put it down.) It was cool! I thought it was funny.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Starting With AliceJ This is one story that pretty much all girls should read! Well if you¿re a girl like me you won¿t want to put this book down! Alice, a third grade, embarrassed little girl that just is having trouble going through her problems! Well Alice just needs a few friends! One-day Alice¿s dad was late coming home but he had an excuse that Alice loved! He was so late because he got her first friend! A new kitten! Alice was so surprised that she jumped up and down all over the house! Alice went over to carry her new kitten and she decided to name her Oatmeal! The next day at school Alice walked around and saw a girl that looked friendly! So Alice went over to meet her! Her name is Rosalind! It turned out that she really was friendly! There was Even more news that Alice just adored! Rosalind was one of Alice¿s brother¿s buddy¿s sisters! So every time the band (Alice¿s brother has a band called the Naked Nomads) meets Alice gets to play with Rosalind! There is a girl in the school that doesn¿t cleanse her hair or use manners! Her name is Sara! Alice and Rosalind eventually they got along with Sara! They threw a sleepover with her and they became a little triplet
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think that the alice books show a point of view that only a few people wouldn't understand. As for this book it's funny because I am learning to drive a stick shift too!
Guest More than 1 year ago
i loved this book. It was probably one of her better books. It was very funny and kind of weird but very good. Keep up the great work Phyllis . This book is probably only for 13 and up because of some of the content.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was excelent. Mama had to feed me, because i just wouldnt put it down!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was so good. I couldnt put it down. My mom would have to yell at me to eat dinner cause just wouldnt put that book down! I would defenitly recomend it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Starting With Alice is such a great book! I could read it over and over again! I would recemend it for anybody!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book!! I couldn't put it down. I read it in less than day. It seems like Alice is a real person in a real world with real problems!! I would reccommend this to anybody, even if you don't like reading!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This Book is Awesome! It was such a cool idea to right baout how alice grew up! My sister (9) also loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Heres part 5: I woke Erin, Daphne, Hazel and Lilly up (Lilly slept over). "Do you guys know what this means." Said Hazel excitedly. "We could become celebrities!" "We have to talk to Mom first." I reminded her. The following morning we talked to Mom. "I logged on to our youtube channel and guess what? We have over a billion views and over a million likes! Then Daphne received an email from Starfall Records!" Mom smiled at us."I have to talk to your dad and Lilly has to talk to her parents. But I trust that you will make good choices." *** Mrs. Nicole Walker from Starfall Records along with her nephew, Ethan Tyler, stood in the middle of our living room. "Are you the band with all the J names?" We all nod. Mom gives us the look. It reminds us of her question. Daphne clears her throat. "My name is Daphne Richardson and I'm 24." Hazel looks at Mrs. Walker, "I'm Hazel Richardson and I'm 20." "I'm Lucy Richardson and I'm 16." "I'm Erin Richardson and I'm 12." Lilly opens her mouth but Mrs. Walker interrupts. "Erin personally I think that you are to young to be in a band." Erin scowls, "I'll be 13 this November." "You will be more restricted than your sisters than." She nods at Lilly. "My name is Lilly Carver and I'm 16." Mrs. Walker smiles, "Pack your bags girls, we are leaving for Hollywood in 2 days." Part 6 is on Looking For Alaska Hoped u liked it:-)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So touching and realistic
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So cute and fun to read. I plan on possibly reading this with my little girl if I ever have one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago