Kirkus Reviews QR Code
STARTING WITH ALICE by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor


From the Alice McKinley series, volume 1

by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Age Range: 8 - 11

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-689-84395-X
Publisher: Atheneum

Alice is back again, but this time she’s younger. In the first of three planned prequels to the extensive series about Alice McKinley, eight-year-old Alice moves to Tacoma Park, Maryland, from Chicago. Although written for a younger audience, this first-person narrative offers the same elements as those for older readers, dealing with friendship, family, and the embarrassments of childhood, all with good humor. Also as usual, Naylor (Simply Alice, p. 496, etc.) adds a tragedy—in this case, a relative’s death—but deals with its emotional impact only superficially, striking a false note in her otherwise perceptive portrayal of well-loved child. While this is an enjoyable story, and Alice and her family are as likable as ever, readers who love the series will miss the presence of Alice’s friends, Elizabeth, Pamela, and Patrick, who figure heavily in the other plots. Similarly, those who start with this prequel will encounter a major change in the cast of characters when Alice moves again in The Agony of Alice, originally the first book. Starting with Alice doesn’t fill in any important gaps in the backstory and, in fact, creates a few discrepancies—Alice has a good time with her cousin Carol in this prequel, but in The Agony of Alice, she doesn’t remember who Carol is. Nevertheless, this cheerful addition will find a ready audience among the younger siblings of Alice fans as well as the devoted older fans themselves, to whom Alice feels like a friend. (Fiction. 8-11)