Saturday 15 September 2012

Children's Book Review : Alice Miranda At School - Jacqueline Harvey

Despite her young age, precocious 7-year-old Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington Jones has decided that she wants to go off to the prestigious girls' boarding school that her mother attended and that has a name almost as long as her own, Winchesterfield-Downfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies. 

You can tell from the quadruple-barrelled surnames and ridiculously long school's name that the style is rather tongue-in-cheek. It actually reminded me of the Comic Strip parody of Enid Blyton, Five Go Mad In Dorset, starring (amongst others) French and Saunders and Ade Edmondson. I kept expecting the characters to break into cries of "jolly hockey sticks" or "spiffing" but, Alice-Miranda's extreme maturity and the OTT lifestyle of her parents, with private helicopters and live-in cooks aside, it's all reasonably realistic. This strange sense of realism despite the unfeasible goings-on probably stems from the fact that author Jacqueline Harvey has spent her working life working in girls' boarding schools where she presumably found ample inspiration for her characters.

The awful headmistress Ophelia Grimm, who goes out of her way to get rid of the annoying pest (in her eyes)  by setting Herculean feats for the little girl to accomplish, turns out to be vulnerable and soft-hearted beneath her prickly exterior and the sweet-as-saccharine Alice Miranda starts setting the world (or at least the whole of Winchesterfield-Downfordvale) to rights one problem at a time.

This is the first book in a new series and I'll be intrigued to see how the next book starts. Will Alice-Miranda be older? Will she stay at Winchesterfield-Downfordvale or move on to another school that needs her special touch ?

star rating : 4/5

RRP : £4.99

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Red Fox (1 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849416214
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849416214


  1. im 29 and i wouldnt mind reading this! as a child i used to love reading boarding school books and even begged my mum to let me go to boarding school! she refused to let me go! its amazing the effects books can have!


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