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The Alice MacLeod series by Susan Juby

January 7th, 2005 (09:55 pm)
sleepy

Current Mood: sleepy
Current Song: I Can Do Better Than That as sung by Lauren Kennedy

Do not confuse Alice MacLeod with the star of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll or the leading lady from the Alice McKinley books by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Instead, think of her as an offbeat Anastasia Krupnik who lives in Canada and chronicles her (hilarious) woes in a diary.

Alice, I Think introduces us to this very quirky girl. Alice went to kindergarten dressed as a Hobbit. Her classmates teased her relentlessly. Her parents then decided to homeschool her for the next ten years. There's nothing like a reintroduction to the school system at age sixteen. Everyone around Alice is a little . . . unique. Her mom loves all things New Age, her dad is kind - and often kindly described as a slacker, and her little brother is a brainiac. Her dad's friends are mismatched yet loyal, her guidance counselor is a hippie, and her new school is an alternative learning center. A fast read that will make readers laugh out loud.

In the second book, Alice discovers that entrants in a local pageant will get $400 for clothes. Though not normally interested in beauty contests, she enters for the sake of that shopping spree. (She has her heart set on leather pants.) Sponsored by the Smithers Rod and Gun Club and surrounded by other eccentric participants, Alice quickly learns that she is not the only participant to have ulterior motives.

Her time as Miss Smithers introduces her to karate, tests her vegetarianism, gives her material for her self-published zine, and teaches her the value of a dollar. Okay, maybe not that, but she does ultimately appreciate her true talents, and that's what makes her shine.

In the third Alice novel, the overdramatic Canadian teenager deals with a long-distance relationship, attempts to write a screenplay, works a series of odd jobs - oh, yes, and an incarcerated parent. The issue is treated lightly and with love: Her peace-loving mother gets arrested for protesting, and her absence shakes up the already off-kilter MacLeod household, as Alice's long-time-slacker father has to get a job. Shock and horror. Meanwhile, Alice attempts to uncover new talents, such as knitting, and she manages to both assume and avoid additional responsibilities at home and at work.

Alice's screenplay, Of Moose and Men, starts off the book. It is a work-in-progress which, more often than not, is an extension of Alice's daydreams and worries. Her overdramatic writing makes for a fun story-within-a-story, and the final scene of the script also serves as an ending to the book. This outing will amuse teen readers, especially those who enjoyed Alice, I Think and Miss Smithers.

All three of the books are written in diary format.

The books were turned into a Canadian television series. This online promo reminds me of Blossom. The series ran for thirteen episodes. I wish it had aired here!