Jacqueline Harvey, Alice-Miranda in the Alps (Alice-Miranda #12), Random House, 1 Sept 2015, 384pp., $16.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9780857982742
Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones. The triple, double-barrelled name of the heroine of the Alice-Miranda series is, undoubtedly, over the top – but it helps set the tone right away. This girl does not have an ordinary lifestyle. In her latest adventure, Alice-Miranda and her parents take the family’s private jet on a skiing holiday to Switzerland. They take their cook and housekeeper with them and she gets to invite friends from her exclusive ladies boarding school along too. If that’s not every young girl’s dream holiday, it may well be after reading this book.
Alice-Miranda and her friends are given quite a bit of freedom to ski, ice-skate and go swimming on their own (in the hotel’s heated indoor pool with views of the Swiss Alps, of course). During the vacation, Alice-Miranda discovers a family friend is in trouble and her inquisitive mind sees her piece together clues to pinpoint the problem. She also enlists the help of her father to come up with a solution, which is a great message for young, would-be detectives.
The series is aimed at 9-13 year olds and I agree it was too old to share with my seven-year-old twins just yet. There are also quite a few characters – many with long or foreign names – which I found confusing at first. The list of characters at the back of the book is a helpful addition and, if this wasn’t my first Alice-Miranda book, I expect many names would already have been familiar.
Alice-Miranda is a heroine I’d be happy to introduce my kids to. She is curious, courageous, caring and has excellent manners. Her latest escapade is well-paced with plenty of appeal – friendship, adventure, a little bit of danger and a cute dog that wears diamond-encrusted hairclips.
Young readers may enjoy checking out Sydney author and teacher Jacqueline Harvey’s website where they can type in their own name to a special “name generator” to find out what they would be called if they moved in Alice-Miranda’s outrageously-wealthy circle. There are also colouring pages and computer wallpaper to download.
Reviewed by Carissa Mason (Carissa Petra Daphne Middleton-Mason Forbes)