Book Review | Alice-Miranda at School

Author // Jacqueline Harvey
Publication Date // June 2011
Publisher // Random House Australia
Genre // Middle Grade


Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennigton-Jones can’t wait to start boarding school. When she arrives at Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies, the adventure begins . . . only not quite as Alice-Miranda expects. The minute she sets foot on the school’s manicured grounds, she senses that something is wrong: Miss Grimm, the headmistress, is nowhere to be seen, the gardens have no flowers, and a mysterious stranger seems to be hiding out on the premises. 

But that’s not all. Some girls are mean and spoiled, like Alethea Goldsworthy. Can Alice-Miranda defeat Alethea in one of three difficult tests she must pass to remain at school? Will she discover Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale’s big secret–and make things right? Well, if anyone can, it’s spunky Alice-Miranda! 


Alice-Miranda is the youngest student ever to attend Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies (and yes, that’s a mouthful!), and not everyone’s pleased about that. You have your stereotypical mean girl, Alethea Goldsworthy, who thinks she runs the school, a headmistress who has no inclination to interact with the students and gardens with no flowers. All these things Alice-Miranda decides to tackle head-on because she knows something’s not quite right.

Alice-Miranda at School is the sort of book that I wish I’d read growing up. Reading it as an adult, I can sit here and talk about all the incredulous things that Alice-Miranda gets up to at her boarding school, but when reading the book for what it is – a middle-grade story about a little girl who’s confident and capable it’s quite empowering.

There’s a sense of fun, whimsy and adventure in this story. It doesn’t shy away from topics like death – which I think is important in children’s books – but it’s not violent or confronting. Alice-Miranda handles everything calmly and rationally (if perhaps a little too calmly and rationally for a seven-and-a-half year old) and is polite on top of all of that. Little girls will love reading about Alice-Miranda.

I gave Alice-Miranda at School 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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