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ALICE IN APRIL by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

ALICE IN APRIL

From the Alice McKinley series, volume 8

By Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Age Range: 9 - 13

Pub Date: April 30th, 1993
ISBN: 0-689-31805-7
Publisher: Atheneum

Building on her earlier books about the motherless, independent-minded Alice, Naylor flawlessly weaves concerns prompted by two birthdays--Alice's 13th, which prompts the girl to experiment with the role of "homemaker"; and Dad's 50th, which gives her a chance to try out new skills with a surprise party--into another delightful chronicle, as perceptive as it is hilarious. There are poignant moments here when Alice's forays into womanhood recall her barely remembered, frequently yearned- for mother--especially when nice Miss Summers (Alice's teacher, who's dating Dad) helps Alice make the cake Mom noted as "Ben's favorite." But from April Fool's Day, when Alice's teasing, good-humored relationship with college-age brother Lester is neatly dramatized by their tricks on each other, to the full-cast dinner party on the 30th, comedy is perfectly integrated into every episode--even a sensible, detailed account of a physical (brisk questions; no pelvic exam) that a relieved Alice finds less embarrassing than she feared. There's tragedy for a minor character near the end: startling but not gratuitous, it deepens the story's meaning while revealing how close Alice and Miss Summers are growing--regardless of Miss Summers's feelings for Dad, which remain in doubt. Next installment impatiently awaited. (Fiction. 9-13)