Alice-Miranda at School by Jacqueline Harvey, paperback children’s novel, 281 pages, published by Random House Australia in 2010.
Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones is a precocious seven year old who is starting at her new boarding school, Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies. There is something not quite right about the school though. The headmistress, Miss Grimm, never emerges from her office, the school cook has never had a holiday, and the Gardner is not allowed to plant flowers. Alice-Miranda decides to set things right, but she must also deal with Alethea, the school bully, and a series of difficult and near impossible tasks set by Miss Grimm as an entrance test.
The Alice-Miranda series is written by the same author as the Clementine Rose series, but these books are longer and more challenging. While this book is probably best for middle primary school children, I decided to read this with my second grader, each of us taking turns to read. She was quite capable of reading it, but we did come across some words that were new to her. We took this as a learning opportunity and discussed these words, and then we looked some of them up in the dictionary. This didn’t diminish her enjoyment of the story though, and she has already begun reading the second book in the series by herself.
As Alice-Miranda is the only child of very wealthy parents who have spared no expense in raising their daughter, she had the potential to be a bit spoilt, and she is quite outspoken, so I expected her to be somewhat annoying, and ergo unlikable, but that actually wasn’t the case. She is very forthright and opinionated, but she was also intelligent, charming, interesting and confident, adventurous, charitable and kind. I found myself hoping that everything would work out for her as we read. The story is well written and interesting, with plenty of description of both characters and surroundings allowing for an immersion in the tale. I really liked sharing this story with my daughter.
Alice-Miranda’s future adventures are definitely on our to-read list!