Alice-Miranda keeps the beat by Jacqueline Harvey
Alice-Miranda book 18. Penguin, 2019. ISBN: 9780143786030.
(Age: 8-12) Recommended. Themes: School life, Fund-raising, Festivals, Mystery. Jacqueline Harvey's extremely popular Alice-Miranda series returns for the eighteenth time in Alice- Miranda keeps the Beat. Alice-Miranda and her friends are returning to their school, Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies, after enjoying a barbecue lunch with Jacinta's mother. As they walk through the village, they see smoke rising from the restaurant Fattoush and the apartment above. With Mr and Mrs Abboud and their children trapped inside, Alice-Miranda and Millie run into the blaze, searching for the children. Selflessly Alice-Miranda rushes up to the smoke-filled attic to rescues the babies. The fire leaves the family homeless, without anything. Alice-Miranda who's been secretly taking music lessons, comes up with a fund-raising music festival to help.
Back at the Academy, tension amongst the staff rises, notes demanding work above and beyond their normal duties upset the teachers, even Dervla who manages the stables is under extreme pressure. With the arrival of a young new teacher with inspirational ideas, the established staff feel threatened. Has the power of being in charge gone to Miss Reedy's head? Of course, Caprice is up to her usual selfish ways, she wants to headline the music festival. Alice-Miranda and her friends rise to the challenge, with the support of the village, their families and supporters to make The Fields Festival a rousing success.
Jacqueline Harvey's special style of weaving mysteries and secrets into her middle grade novels, certainly keeps the readers guessing. Each thread is beautifully woven throughout, and we discover why Zara Abboud was missing at the fire, the real reason Jacinta's absent father returns and the true identity of the new teacher. All the much-loved elements are here, pony rides, delicious food (except for the problem scrambled eggs), community spirit, new babies and close friendships. Combined with Alice-Miranda's sense of fair play and supportive nature Alice Miranda Keeps the Beat makes another delightful addition to the series.