Review Blog

Jul 31 2012

Alice Next Door by Judi Curtain

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Puffin, 2012. ISBN 978 14 330658 0.
Alice Again by Judi Curtain
Puffin, 2012. ISBN 978 0 14330659 7.
Alice in the middle by Judi Curtain
Puffin, 2012. ISBN 9780 14 330661 0.
(Ages: 10+) Recommended. Humour. Friendship. The first two books in the series introduce the two girls Alice and Megan, [the bff's (best friends forever)] in their last year at primary school in Limerick, Ireland. The two girls are inseparable, living next door to each other, but the news that Alice's newly separated mother is moving to Dublin, taking her daughter with her, comes as a blow to the girls. Alice hatches a plan for the two to stay together, involving her staying hidden in Megan's bedroom. But things go awry when the girls realise that staying hidden is not as easy as they think.
These stories will have strong appeal to middle to upper primary girls, with their easily identified main characters, doing things that are recognisable and involving. Megan and Alice have strong, likable personalities and contrast each other in their likes and dislikes. Each of the families is quite distinct and the aims of the girls in staying best friends one that all readers will identify with.
The second in the series, Alice Again, has the two girls finding new friends in Limerick and Dublin and and so needing to do some repair work when they next meet. Again the story is told lightly with a deft touch of humour, but remaining true to the aims o the stories in revealing the strength of friends and families. The Alice and Megan series continues with Alice in the Middle, where the two go to summer camp, hoping for a great time with weeks of fun activities and a time apart form their families. But their anticipation of spending time together is brought up sharply by the attentions of a bully who aims to separate the girls. Touching on issues relevant to girls in this age group, this the fourth book in the series will have wide appeal.
The Irish setting makes this a pleasurable read as girls will quickly find that some things are universal.
Fran Knight

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