Cover image for Starting with Alice
Starting with Alice
Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2002.
Physical Description:
181 pages ; 22 cm
After she, her older brother, and their father move from Chicago to Maryland, Alice has trouble fitting into her new third grade class, but with the help of some new friends and her own unique outlook, she survives.
Reading Level:
730 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.6 5.0 63096.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 4.5 9 Quiz: 31929 Guided reading level: R.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library X Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Central Library X Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Collins Library X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
Crane Branch Library X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
Elma Library X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
Kenmore Library X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
Lancaster Library X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
Williamsville Library X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
Audubon Library X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
Boston Free Library X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
Frank E. Merriweather Library X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Naylor's Alice books have become favorites with readers all over the world. Now in the first of three prequels to the series, younger girls can meet the girl everyone wants as her best friend, while older fans will enjoy finding out how Alice came to be the Alice they know and love.

Author Notes

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor was born in Anderson, Indiana on January 4, 1933. She received a bachelor's degree from American University in 1963. Her first children's book, The Galloping Goat and Other Stories, was published in 1965. She has written more than 135 children and young adult books including Witch's Sister, The Witch Returns, The Bodies in the Bessledorf Hotel, A String of Chances, The Keeper, Walker's Crossing, Bernie Magruder and the Bats in the Belfry, Please Do Feed the Bears, and The Agony of Alice, which was the first book in the Alice series. She has received several awards including the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Night Cry and the Newberry Award for Shiloh.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 3^-8. Since The Agony of Alice (1985), when Alice first appeared in sixth grade, Naylor has written 13 books in the hugely popular series about the motherless girl trying to follow the unwritten rules about growing up female now. Alice became older in each book (she's a high-school freshman in the recent Simply Alice [BKL Je 1 & 15 2002]). Naylor said in a Booklist "Story behind the Story" [BKL My 1 99] that she would stop when Alice turns 18. In this book, the first of several planned prequels to the 1985 book, Naylor goes back in time to find Alice in third grade. She has just moved to Takoma Park, Maryland, where her dad gets a job as manager in a music store, and her much older brother, Lester, fits in much better than she does. Her desperate need for the mother she lost when she was four is like an open wound as she struggles to make friends and feel at home. It will be interesting to see who the audience is for this younger Alice series. Will it break the credo that kids won't read about characters younger than themselves? Certainly, Alice fans who can't get enough of the characters will enjoy going backward, and there are a few sly jokes that they'll appreciate. Will third-graders start reading the series here? Alice does sound a bit wise for eight, but that sense of needing a mother-guide will strike a chord with girls of all ages. Then there's the question of the setting: Is the book set now? There aren't any e-mails or cell phones, but Alice wants pierced ears and green sparkle nail polish. As always, Naylor does a great job of blending the big emotional issues with the daily details that are both trivial and immensely important, and she does it with candor, tenderness, and truth. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Alice fans (and their younger friends) are in for a treat as Phyllis Reynolds Naylor turns back the clock on the popular series hero: Starting with Alice documents the ups and downs of Alice's third-grade year. Two additional prequels are planned, to bring the younger Alice up to the point where the original series opener, Alice in Agony, begins (see Children's Books, p. 27). (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-6-In this first of a trilogy of prequels, the author of the "Alice" books takes readers back to the protagonist's arrival in Takoma Park, MD. Alice gets off to a rough start at her new school, where she meets three girls who snub her and soon become her enemies. She also gets in trouble for lying to her classmates about how her uncle died, and for disobeying a crossing guard. Gradually, though, she finds reasons to like her new environment, including friends Rosalind and Sara and her father's gift of a kitten, and she discovers that it is easier to be a friend than an enemy, even when the enemies are the Terrible Triplets. At eight years of age, Alice is as thoughtful and engaging as her older self. Naylor captures the problems of starting over while coping with the everyday woes of teasing and managing friendships. The otherwise light tone of the book changes suddenly in the middle when Uncle Charlie dies of a heart attack just after Alice and her family return home from his wedding. While this sudden plot twist is a little jarring, Alice's feelings are presented in a believable, sensitive manner. Elementary-school girls will enjoy this introduction, while older fans may be curious enough about the spunky heroine to read about her earlier exploits.-Ashley Larsen, Woodside Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter 5: Riding with Lester When I got home from school on Monday, I found that Dad had taken Lester out of school over the lunch hour to get his learner's permit, and they were getting ready now for their first driving lesson. "But here's the deal," Dad said. "And, Alice, the same goes for you when you get to be sixteen. Once you actually get your license, you can't have anyone in the car with you except family for the first six months. After that, if you don't get a ticket or have an accident during that time -- even a fender bender -- then you can have a friend or two along. But not until then." "Daaaad!" Lester howled. But Dad was firm. "What about you, Alice?" Dad said, looking at me. "Do you want to go over to the Sheaverses' while we're out, or do you want to come along for Lester's driving lesson?" I was playing with Oatmeal and had to think about it a minute. If Lester was going to wreck the car, did I want to die along with my family or be left behind as an orphan? "I guess I'll go," I said. "But be careful, Lester. I'm just a little girl with my whole life ahead of me." "Hey, I want to live too," Lester said. "And I already know the basics. It's not like I can't steer or anything." Dad just grunted. "Les, get the broom and mop, and Alice, bring up the two metal buckets from the basement." Sometimes Dad doesn't make any sense at all. Lester was going to drive the car, not wash it. But we put all the stuff in the trunk, and Dad drove to the parking lot of a large restaurant that was closed on Mondays. He got out and came around on the passenger side, and Lester climbed over into the driver's seat. I sat up on my knees in the backseat so that when Lester crashed into something, I could see it coming. "Sit down, Al. Your head's blocking the rear window," Lester said. I sat down and fastened my seat belt. "Okay," said Dad. "Start the engine, press the clutch pedal down, and practice shifting through all the gears." Lester started the car. I could hear his big sneakers squeaking against each other as they took their places on the pedals. "Dad, when are we going to get an automatic?" he grumbled. "When we get a new car, which won't be for a while now, so stop complaining," Dad said. "Now ease the clutch out in first gear and practice going forward, then reverse." Lester's shoes clumped and squeaked again, and the Honda shot forward. "Wheeee!" I cried. "Easy on the gas," said Dad. Lester braked and this time we shot forward. "Not so hard on the brake," said Dad. It didn't take long for Lester to get the hang of just how hard to press the pedals, and he practiced driving around the empty lot, making turns and back- ing up. "Okay. Let's do some parallel parking," said Dad. "Stop the car." He got out, opened the trunk, and put the buckets about twenty feet apart, six feet out from the curb in front of the restaurant. Then he set the broom in one, the mop in the other. This time I got out because I wanted to watch Lester try to park between the buckets. "Okay, Les," Dad said, getting back in the car. "Pull up past the first bucket, then back into the space between them." I watched the car jerk forward. Lester forgot to put it in reverse. Then the car stopped and slowly started to move backward. But it swung in too far and the tires bumped the curb. I waved my arms dramatically and pretended I'd been hit. Lester rolled down his window. "Cut it out, Alice!" he said. He pulled the car forward again and tried to park between the buckets. This time he knocked over the broom. I cheered. "Alice," said Dad, getting out to set the broom back up again, "be a helper, not a hindrance." I didn't know what a hindrance was, but I'll bet it wasn't good. So I took off my jacket and hung it on the broom handle so Lester could see it better. He tried again. This time he carefully maneuvered past the broom, but he hit the mop. I tried to keep a straight face as I set the mop up again. "Shut up," Lester said to me, even though I hadn't said a word. He tried again, and still again, but he never did a very good job of parking. "It's not like real parking, Dad," he said. "I need real cars to practice on." "Not yet, you don't," said Dad. "Well, at least let me drive around the neighborhood," Lester begged. "I suppose you can handle that," said Dad. I helped put the buckets and stuff back in the trunk and climbed in the backseat again. "Don't hit any little children, Lester." I laughed. I thought how funny it would be if I had a lipstick and wrote outside the car window, Help! I'm being kidnapped! Maybe a police car would see it and pull Lester over. Or if I had a paper sack and blew it up and popped it, and Lester would think he'd blown a tire. Lester drove slowly up and down the streets of our neighborhood and was doing just fine until he came to a stoplight at the top of a hill. It turned red just as we reached it, and Lester put on the brake. "Oh, boy," I heard Dad breathe out. "Now, this might be a little tricky, Les." It was. When the light turned green and Lester took his foot off the brake, the car started rolling backward. I screamed. "Alice, will you stop!" Lester yelled, slamming on the brakes, and we all jerked forward. "You've got to let out the clutch about the same time you're taking your foot off the brake and giving it gas," Dad told him. "It takes practice, Les. Just go slow and easy." But when Lester took his foot off the brake a second time, the car rolled backward again. The car behind us honked, and Lester slammed on the brakes a second time. I put my head down on the seat so he couldn't see I was laughing. "Try it again, Lester," Dad said calmly. "Take your left foot off the clutch and your right foot off the brake and try to do it together. Give it gas before it starts to roll." This time the car shot forward, but the light changed and we had to stop all over again, sticking out into the intersection so that cars had to swerve around us. "Dad, why don't we get a car with power brakes and power steering?" Lester cried. "Because it's good for you to know how to drive all kinds of cars," Dad said. "Don't get rattled, now. Everyone was a beginner once." "Even you?" I asked. "Who taught you to drive, Dad?" "Charlie, my favorite brother. He is a lot older than me and made a good teacher." We waited for the light to turn green again. Now there were three other cars backed up behind us, not just one. The light turned green, and Lester was so anxious to make it that he moved his feet too fast and killed the engine. The car behind us made a U-turn and went tearing off in the opposite direction. So did the car behind it. "Easy does it, Lester," Dad said. I wanted to laugh, but then I remembered how long it had taken me to learn to ride a two-wheeler. I think it was Uncle Milt who bought a bike for me after Mother died, and it was Lester who ran along beside me while I rode to help me keep my balance. It was Lester who taught me to whistle, too, and to blow bubble gum. Who made me my first pair of tin-can stilts. I sat up very straight in the backseat so Lester could see that I wasn't laughing at him. The next time the light turned green, Lester pulled out into the intersection and made it through, a little jerkily, but at least no one honked. "Good job, Lester," I said. We stayed out for another half hour, and Lester did everything right. He pulled in the driveway when we got home as smoothly as a train coming into a station. "You're going to be a great driver, Lester, and I'll go with you anywhere," I said. "Even Niagara Falls." "Very good, indeed!" said Dad. Lester was practically crowing when he got out and went right to the phone to call his friends. Dad was in a good mood too, so I thought maybe it was the right time to ask for something for myself. "Next week, can we get my ears pierced?" I asked. Dad lowered his newspaper and stared at me over the business page. "Don't even think it," he said. Copyright © 2002 by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor Excerpted from Starting with Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

1 No More Barbiesp. 1
2 Donald Sheaversp. 8
3 The Terrible Tripletsp. 17
4 Oatmealp. 27
5 Riding with Lesterp. 39
6 Call from Chicagop. 46
7 Sweetheartsp. 53
8 Embarrassing Momentsp. 62
9 Hello and Good-byep. 72
10 The Sad Timep. 89
11 The World According to Rosalindp. 97
12 Starting with Mep. 105
13 The Shampoo Partyp. 113
14 K-I-S-S-I-N-Gp. 127
15 Little Girl Lostp. 136
16 Pancakes and Syrupp. 143
17 What Happened at Donald's Housep. 150
18 Spring Thawp. 159
19 The Partyp. 171

Google Preview