Alice Miranda on Holiday, by Jacqueline Harvey

Alice-Miranda Highton-Smith-Kennington-Jones said goodbye to her friends on the steps of Winchesterfield Manor.
‘Please try to be brave, Mrs Smith.’ She wrapped her arms around the cook’s waist.
‘Dear girl.’ Mrs Smith sniffled into her tissue, then fished around in her apron pocket to retrieve a small parcel wrapped in greaseproof paper. ‘Some brownies for the drive.’
‘Oh Mrs Smith, my favourites! You really are the best brownie cook in the whole world. I’ll share them with Mummy and Jacinta. You know, I was thinking you should make them for Kennington’s. I’m sure we’d sell kazillions. Imagine: Mrs Smith’s Scrumptious Melt-in-Your-Mouth Chocolate Brownies”.’ Alice-Miranda underlined the invisible words in the air. ‘Wouldn’t that be amazing – you’d be famous!’

In the first Alice-Miranda story, this tiny girl managed to change her school by the power of her optimism and good will. Alice-Miranda on Holiday begins with Alice-Miranda leaving school after her first term there. The staff are sorry to see her go, even though it’s only for a short while. She and Jacinta are very excited to be going to Highton Hall, Alice-Miranda’s home. But despite their welcome there, Alice-Miranda can see that there are strange things happening. There’s the mysterious bad-tempered boy who throws things at them, an unexplained black car, and a movie star guest. When Jacinta is struck down with the flu, it’s up to Alice-Miranda to work out just what’s going on.

Alice-Miranda is Pollyanna as she would be if she’d been born into a very wealthy family. She sees the good in everyone and if there’s a misunderstanding, her direct approach seems to work a treat in sorting it out. She is adored by all, and even those who don’t initially warm to her are soon brought around. Her family are very loving and supportive. This care is extended to her friend Jacinta, whose own parents are equally wealthy but always busy, always elsewhere. Together and separately, they solve one mystery after another in what is a very busy holiday time. Themes are around family and understanding others. Young readers will love the idea of her home and room, her naughty pony and her friends, young and less young. And as for some of the meals… Recommended for independent readers. Younger children will enjoy being read to.

Alice-Miranda on Holiday, Jacqueline Harvey
Random House 2010
ISBN: 9781864719840

Reviewed by Claire Saxby Children’s book author.