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Alice-Miranda at School Hardcover – April 5, 2011

4.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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About the Author

JACQUELINE HARVEY has spent her working life teaching in girls' boarding schools. She has also published three novels for young readers as well as a picture book in her native Australia.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1

Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones waved goodbye to her parents at the gate.

"Goodbye, Mummy. Please try to be brave." Her mother sobbed loudly in reply. "Enjoy your golf, Daddy. I'll see you at the end of term." Her father sniffled into his handkerchief.

Before they had time to wave her goodbye, Alice-Miranda skipped back down the hedge-lined path into her new home.

Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies had a tradition dating back two and a half centuries. Alice-Miranda's mother, aunt, grandmother, great-grandmother and so on had all gone there. But none had been so young or so willing.

It had come as quite a shock to Alice-Miranda's parents to learn that she had telephoned the school to see if she could start early--she was, after all, only seven and one-quarter years old, and not due to start for another year. But after two years at her current school, Ellery Prep, she felt ready for bigger things. Besides, Alice-Miranda had always been different from other children. She loved her parents dearly and they loved her, but boarding school appealed to her sense of adventure.

"It's much better this way," Alice-Miranda had said with a smile. "You both work so hard and you have far more important things to do than run after me. This way I can do all my activities at school. Imagine, Mummy--no more waiting around while I'm at ballet or piano or riding lessons."

"But darling, I don't mind a bit," her mother protested.

"I know you don't," Alice-Miranda had agreed, "but you should think about my being away as a holiday. And then at the end there's all the excitement of coming home, except that it's me coming home to you." She'd hugged her mother and stroked her father's brow as she handed them a gigantic box of tissues. Although they didn't want her to go, they knew there was no point arguing. Once Alice-Miranda made up her mind there was no turning back.

Her teacher, Miss Critchley, hadn't seemed the least surprised by Alice-Miranda's plans.

"Of course, we'll all miss her terribly," Miss Critchley had explained to Alice-Miranda's parents. "But that daughter of yours is more than up to it. I can't imagine there's any reason to stop her."

And so Alice-Miranda went.

Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale sat upon three thousand emerald-colored acres. A tapestry of Georgian buildings dotted the campus, with Winchesterfield Manor the jewel in the crown. Along its labyrinth of corridors hung huge portraits of past headmistresses with serious stares and old-fashioned clothes. The trophy cabinets glittered with treasure and the foyer was lined with priceless antiques. There was not a thing out of place. But from the moment Alice-Miranda entered the grounds she had a strange feeling that something was missing--and she was usually right about her strange feelings.

The headmistress, Miss Grimm, had not come out of her study to meet her. The school's secretary, Miss Higgins, had met Alice-Miranda and her parents at the gate, looking rather surprised to see them.

"I'm terribly sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones. There must have been a mix-up with the dates--Alice-Miranda is a day early," Miss Higgins had explained.

Her parents had said that it was no bother and they would come back again tomorrow. But Miss Higgins was appalled at the idea of causing such inconvenience and offered to take care of Alice-Miranda until the house mistress arrived.

It was Miss Higgins who had interviewed Alice-Miranda some weeks ago, when Alice-Miranda had first contacted the school. At that meeting, Alice-Miranda had thought Miss Higgins quite lovely, with her kindly eyes and pretty smile. But today she couldn't help noticing that Miss Higgins seemed a little flustered and talked as though she were in a race.

Miss Higgins showed Alice-Miranda to her room and suggested she take a stroll around the school. "I'll come and find you and take you to see Cook about some lunch in a little while."

Alice-Miranda unpacked her case, folded her clothes and put them neatly away into one of the tall chests of drawers. The room contained two single beds on opposite walls, matching chests and bedside tables. In a tidy alcove, two timber desks, each with a black swivel chair, stood side by side. The furniture was what her mother might have called functional. Not beautiful, but all very useful. The room's only hint of elegance came from the fourteen-foot ceiling with ornate cornices and the polished timber floor.

Alice-Miranda was delighted to find an envelope addressed to Miss Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones propped against her pillow.

"How lovely--my own special letter," Alice-Miranda said out loud. She looked at the slightly tatty brown bear in her open suitcase. "Isn't that sweet, Brummel?"

She slid her finger under the opening and pulled out a very grand-looking note on official school paper. It read:



Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies

Dear Miss Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones,

Welcome to Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies. It is expected that you will work extremely hard at all times and strive to achieve your very best. You must obey without question all of the school rules, of which there is a copy attached to this letter. Furthermore, you must ensure that your behavior is such that it always brings credit to you, your family and this establishment.

Yours sincerely,

Miss Ophelia Grimm Headmistress

Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies School Rules

1. Hair ribbons in regulation colors and a width of 3/4 of an inch will be tied with double overhand bows.
2. Shoes will be polished twice a day with boot polish and brushes.
3. Shoelaces will be washed each week by hand.
4. Head lice are banned.
5. All times tables to 20 must be learned by heart by the age of 9.
6. Bareback horse riding is not permitted in the quadrangle.
7. All girls will learn to play golf, croquet and bridge.
8. Licorice will not be consumed after 5 p.m.
9. Unless invited by the headmistress, parents will not enter school buildings.
10. Homesickness will not be tolerated.


Alice-Miranda put the letter down and cuddled the little bear. "Oh, Brummel, I can't wait to meet Miss Grimm--she sounds like she's very interested in her students."

Alice-Miranda folded the letter and placed it in the top drawer. She would memorize the school rules later. She popped her favorite photos of Mummy and Daddy on her bedside table and positioned the bear carefully on her bed.

"You be a brave boy, Brummel." She ruffled his furry head. "I'm off to explore, and when I get back I'll tell you all about it." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 740L (What's this?)
  • Series: Alice-Miranda
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (April 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385739931
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385739931
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,142,928 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. Lee on May 14, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
As a mother who screens everything her 13-year-old daughter reads, and who's been screening everything she's ever read, I remember the days of "Junie B. Jones" with much fondness and not a bit of nostalgia. When I came across "Alice-Miranda", I thought it would be a bit young for said daughter - but, happily, we both enjoyed Jacqueline Harvey's characters and writing tremendously. I guess good books are just that: you can read them at any age. Just as I had tons of good giggles and laugh-out-loud moments with June B, so I did with Alice-Miranda. Alice-Miranda would fit right in with Constance Contraire and the Mysterious Benedict Society gang, too. While I'm heartily sorry she wasn't around when said daughter was younger, I'm really glad we caught her when we did. Said daughter's review follows:

"The book, `Alice-Miranda at School' by Jacqueline Harvey was a very interesting, funny book about one tiny little girl who tries to save one very big school.

"Seven-year-old Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones can't wait to start boarding school. In fact, she wants to start a whole year early! But when she arrives at Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies, Alice-Miranda suddenly gets caught up in an adventure filled with strange hobos, cooks wanting to go to America, tests and snobby girls. But can super-smart Alice-Miranda fix everyone's problems? Or will one heartbroken person ruin her school year? One thing is for sure, though: Alice-Miranda will leave you speechless.

"My favorite character was of course Alice-Miranda. I really liked how cute her name is. Plus, she was so sweet and smart that everyone loved her. I can't wait to read this book to my little cousin. Alice-Miranda is certainly a girl you will never forget any time soon.
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Format: Hardcover
Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones is an overly chirpy, cheeky, precocious 7-year-old who is admitted to boarding school early. She is brilliant by virtue of having had many experiences with her rich, adventuresome parents. Alice-Miranda's zealousness to presuppose good in others knocks Pollyanna right off that pedestal. If you are an adult, please read this as it was written: with tongue in cheek, or you'll never get through the first half of the book! It's a fun, interesting romp, well-written with short sentences and dialog that keeps action clipping along. Ideal for 10 to 12 year-olds, it's well suited to younger accelerated readers for it doesn't surmount that age group's worldly or emotional level. (As an adult reader, I confess I could not stand Alice-Miranda for the first half of the book, and I do know people just like her. However, at the end of the book I championed for "More! More!")
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Format: Hardcover
Alice-Miranda at School is a cute story about a spunky girl who's seven-and-a-quarter, not quite old enough to attend Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies. This, and her brazen, curious personality, changes the school forever. Finding the state of the school entirely unacceptable, she faces off with the headmistress, Miss Grimm, who hasn't been seen on campus for ten years, she befriends the second best tantrum thrower of the school, and touches the heart of every staff member other than the headmistress in her first week at school.

I really enjoyed reading about Alice-Miranda's adventures, but I did have a few issues. The book is intended for younger readers, ages nine to twelve, but it reads much younger, like a beginning chapter book might. The book is ninety-percent dialogue, and everything happens rather quickly (for a younger reader, however, the pacing is perfect). Another problem I had was with Alice-Miranda. I loved her spunky attitude, but she was entirely too perfect. She has a loving family, lots of money, she can befriend pretty much anyone with a smile, she's extremely smart, and she's fearless. She doesn't have a single flaw. While her curiosity gets her into trouble with the headmistress, I didn't for a second think that she might fail the challenges ahead.

Alice-Miranda aside, the other characters, children and adults alike, all felt like real people I might meet, even with their somewhat silly names. Jacinta Headlington-Bear is the second best tantrum thrower and a phenomenal gymnast. Millicent Jane McLoughlin-McTavish-McNoughton-McGill, known as Millie, is Alice-Miranda's roommate and supportive best friend (I liked her the most, I think).
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By leese on January 1, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
My daughter loves this series. Adventure, mystery and always a good laugh. It is just a really enjoyable read. My daughter is nearly 10 and we recently purchased two more from the series. That says it all.
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Format: Paperback
Great new series (to us anyway) and my daughter loves it. Soon after arriving at the Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies, resourceful seven-and-one-quarter-year-old Alice-Miranda finds her new boarding school to be a very curious establishment.

This is an accelerated reader (AR) book. My kids have to read books and take AR test as a part of their reading grade so I'm always on the look out for a good AR book. AR RL: 4.9 - AR Pts: 6.0
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