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The Agony of Alice Paperback – December 26, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews
Book 1 of 25 in the Alice Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-7- Alice's mother died when she was four. Now a sixth grader, she finds her all-male household no help with the process of growing up female. Through a series of incidents both hilarious and poignant, Alice searches for a female to help her cope with her adolescent anxieties. At first repulsed by her physically unattractive teacher, Mrs. Plotkin, Alice gradually realizes that although surrounded by a variety of role models, it is kind, sensitive Mrs. Plotkin who she wants to be like. The lively style exhibits a deft touch at capturing the essence of an endearing heroine growing up without a mother. Alice's forthcoming fans will agonize with her and await her further adventures. Caroline Ward Romans, Vermont Department of Libraries, Montpelier
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"A wonderfully funny and touching story." - Booklist, starred review

"Both hilarious and poignant...The lively style [captures] the essence of an endearing heroine." - School Library Journal, starred review

"Breezy dialouge and a solid story line...readable, funny, and appealing." - Boston Globe

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 13 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 8
  • Series: Alice (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Aladdin; Reprint edition (December 26, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 141695533X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416955337
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,244,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I guess I've been writing for about as long as I can remember. Telling stories, anyway, if not writing them down. I had my first short story published when I was sixteen, and wrote stories to help put myself through college, planning to become a clinical psychologist. By the time I graduated with a BA degree, however, I decided that writing was really my first love, so I gave up plans for graduate school and began writing full time.

I'm not happy unless I spend some time writing every day. It's as though pressure builds up inside me, and writing even a little helps to release it. On a hard-writing day, I write about six hours. Tending to other writing business, answering mail, and just thinking about a book takes another four hours. I spend from three months to a year on a children's book, depending on how well I know the characters before I begin and how much research I need to do. A novel for adults, because it's longer, takes a year or more. When my work is going well, I wake early in the mornings, hoping it's time to get up. When the writing is hard and the words are flat, I'm not very pleasant to be around.

Getting an idea for a book is the easy part. Keeping other ideas away while I'm working on one story is what's difficult. My books are based on things that have happened to me, things I have heard or read about, all mixed up with imaginings. The best part about writing is the moment a character comes alive on paper, or when a place that existed only in my head becomes real. There are no bands playing at this moment, no audience applauding--a very solitary time, actually--but it's what I like most. I've now had more than 120 books published, and about 2000 short stories, articles and poems.

I live in Bethesda, Maryland, with my husband, Rex, a speech pathologist, who's the first person to read my manuscripts when they're finished. Our sons, Jeff and Michael, are grown now, but along with their wives and children, we often enjoy vacations together in the mountains or at the ocean. When I'm not writing, I like to hike, swim, play the piano and attend the theater.

I'm lucky to have my family, because they have contributed a great deal to my books. But I'm also lucky to have the troop of noisy, chattering characters who travel with me inside my head. As long as they are poking, prodding, demanding a place in a book, I have things to do and stories to tell.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
When Phyllis Reynolds Naylor came out number one on the 2004 list of "Most Banned" books in America due to her "Alice" series, she probably didn't see it as a good thing. But an unintended result of that dubious honor is the publicity that came with it. As a children's librarian, I was (until the list was published) in the dark about Naylor's "Alice" books and hadn't so much as perused one before. So I decided to begin at the very beginning with "The Agony of Alice" to see where it might take me. After all, why is it that these books incite such fear and lamenting by ban-crazy parents nationwide? I've got two little words for you: Breasts and blood. Yep, this is a book about a girl crossing over from ignorant fifth-grade to cool collected know-it-all sixth grade. From tweenship into teenship. And so on. And if you fear for your children's pure little lily-white minds should they ever hear the word "period" or "bra" enter into a book's conversation, then "The Agony of Alice" is not for you. But for those kids who not only identify with Alice but take after her, the series is a godsend.

Growing up in a male-dominated household (one father, one brother) isn't all it's cracked up to be. Sure, you don't have to worry about table manners but sometimes it's nice to have someone to ask about bras and shopping for jeans, and that kind of stuff. And what Alice wants most in the world at this moment is a mother. Her own died when she was four and ever since then she's been on the lookout for a replacement. She thinks she's found one too, when she sees beautiful Miss Cooper, the sixth grade teacher, on her first day at a new school. Unfortunately, Miss Cooper isn't Alice's teacher. Instead, she's stuck with dumpy old Mrs. Plotkin.
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Format: Paperback
The summer before sixth grade, Alice McKinley, her dad Ben and older brother Lester move to a new town...where Alice unwittingly manages to humiliate herself almost immediately. First she makes a fool out of herself in front of her new neighbor and classmate, the perfect Elizabeth; then she accidentally barges in on a red-haired boy in a store changing room.

To Alice's horror, the boy turns out to go to her new school. And to make matters worse, Alice doesn't get the pretty young teacher she had hoped to have as a practically subsitute mother, but rather the older, physically unattractive Mrs. Plotkin.

For once determined to change her destiny, Alice tries to talk the principal into switching classrooms. And when that fails, she decides to be outright rude and uncooperative, trying to make Mrs. Plotkin want to get rid of her. Instead, to Alice's great surprise, Mrs. Plotkin reacts with kindness...and before she knows it, Alice has her first lesson in never judging a book by its cover.

If you've never given the "Alice" series a try, give this book a try! You'll soon be looking for the rest of the series, eager to find out what else Alice has been up to.
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A Kid's Review on October 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
For any girl who would like to jump into a good series, start with the Agony of Alice. It is so funny and I laughed through the whole book. Alice is trying to learn how to be a teenager, but since she doesn't have a mother, she's doing it all wrong-she pulls somebody's hair onstage, kicks a teacher's arm in the Halloween parade, and still can't buy a bra, to name a few embarrassing incidents.
Also, I have been reading the other reviews of the Alice books and notice that quite a bit of them have been complaining about the sexual content. So, if you're wondering what age is appropriate and which isn't, I have a guideline: most girls that have done the Family Life course at school are mature enough for the Alice books, because the books don't really cover any more than what you learn in Family Life (in fact, sometimes Family Life is a lot worse).
I loved this book and would recommend it to any preteen or teen girl.
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A Kid's Review on December 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
The Agony of Alice.The author of this book is Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.The main character is Alice. Alices mother died when she was just a baby. So now so she is in sixth grade and she just wants someone to teach her to be a teenager. She has a big brother(Lester) and a dad. the plot of this story is she gets a boyfriend and she just wants to ask questions on how to keep a boyfriend and how to prevent(Patrick)from breaking up with her. Alices quote is sixth grade is tough.The meaning of this story is how to be a teenager with a boyfriend.I really like this story because im in sixth grade and im figureing out how to be a teenager with out screwing up.
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By A Customer on August 4, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is my favorite Alice book so far! I am so hooked on this series that I can't put the book down, I can relate to it so much,especially this book because I(unlike Alice) was homeschooled and am going to school for the very first time this year, what is like Alice is that I am going into the 6th grade and share the same problems with her. I can REALLY relate to this book, even the librarian at the elementary school(who is probably about late 30's early 40's,maybe even 50's!!)likes this series. I think that even though she talks about sex in the other books it is still OK for preteens. I mean come on, i already know what sex is!(and hope other 6th graders do by NOW!!!). I can relate to it so much I am starting to think that Phyllis Reynolds Naylor wrote the book about me!! I recommend this book to girls 10 to 13 because she is only in 6th grade and this book is better if you're around the same age as her.
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