Alice-Miranda shows the way by Jacqueline Harvey
Random House, 2012. ISBN: 9781742751177.
Highly recommended for ages 8 and up. As the delightful Alice-Miranda celebrates her eighth birthday, excitement is building for both the girls and the staff of Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy. The village show is about to occur, complete with events for everyone, as well as providing an extra day off of school. Whilst Alice-Miranda and Millie are practicing their horse riding skills, others are completing needle work pieces and perfecting their baking skills. When Evelyn Pepper, the trainer of Rockstar, the Queen's favourite horse, is admitted to hospital, Alice-Miranda becomes involved. Her pony, Bonaparte, is the only thing which can calm Rockstar and encourage him to race, thereby leaving open the Aunty Gee's chances of winning the Queen's Cup. Into the mix, add the carnival people, who are much maligned by the locals and held accountable for anything which goes wrong or missing during their time in the Village.
Harvey has created some eminently likeable characters, almost certainly too good to be true, yet whom one would be happy to class as friends. Similarly, any child reading these books would undoubtedly fall in love with the idea of attending Alice-Miranda's school. The girls seem spend little time in class but many hours on pursuing their own interests. They appear to have a great deal of freedom, allowing them to visit various other people and locations, seemingly without restrictions. As with the other titles in this series, there are some predictable turns of events for older readers, yet younger children may not find this to be the case. The key characters are believable and demonstrate the ability to change and grow. There is the inevitable 'baddie' as well, yet, thanks to the ingenuity of Alice-Miranda, the reader knows that there will always be a happy ending.