ALICE-BY-ACCIDENT by Lynne Reid Banks

ALICE-BY-ACCIDENT

Age Range: 9 - 13

KIRKUS REVIEW

Banks (The Key to the Cupboard, 1998, etc.) introduces a highly appealing character in an ultimately disappointing novel. Nine-year-old Alice Williamson-Stone loves to write stories, so much so that when her teacher gives the class an assignment to write about themselves, Alice can’t stop and writes a full-length autobiography. Alice—spunky, resilient, creative, and funny—has had her share of hard knocks and sadness. Raised by a single mom, she learns early on that she came into life “by accident” (hence the title) and that her father wanted to play no part in her life. Alice’s mother does the best she can, but she is often overwhelmed by the job of raising such a feisty girl on her own. Alice’s paternal grandmother Gene, a famous English actress, enters Alice’s life when Alice is three. She often takes Alice to the theater and ballet, encourages her love of books and art, and even takes her on a trip to Spain. Gene is the second most important person in Alice’s life, and the void that’s left when Gene and Alice’s mother, who have always had a hostile relationship, have a final row and Gene is suddenly out of Alice’s life, is enormous. But despite Alice’s likable personality, this is not Banks at her best. The story is often confusing, with many jumps back and forth in time. Many plot elements are hard to buy—for example, it’s difficult to believe that Gene could so easily drop out of Alice’s life when she knows there are no other adults in Alice’s life, aside from her mother. In fact, all the adults here come up rather short. The deliberate misspellings—“applord” for applaud, “dier emerjency,” “ile” for aisle, “ortobiography” for autobiography—and deliberate grammatical mistakes will be confusing for children. The cover illustration depicts a girl of 14 or 15, while Alice is 9 and 10 during the course of the story. Although the reading level is 9 to 13, many of the older kids in that age range will resist reading about a child that much younger than themselves (the reason, perhaps, behind the misleading cover). (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: June 30th, 2000
ISBN: 0-380-97865-2
Page count: 144pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2000




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