Here are all the embarrassing things that might happen to you in the fourth grade -- and do happen to you, if your name is Alice McKinley:
1. Your next-door neighbor (who happens to be a BOY!) sees you in your underpants.
2. You sneeze beans all over your best friend.
3. Your brother lies to you for fun and you believe him.
4. You get trapped inside a snow cave -- your own snow cave, that is.
5. You're the only person in the whole grade who can't sing.
Alice can't seem to do anything right anymore, especially where her big brother Lester is concerned. When he gets really angry with her, Alice doesn't know how to fix things between them. How is she going to get Lester to talk to her again? And will life ever get any easier? Fourth grade can't end soon enough!
The second of three prequels to the beloved Alice series, Alice in Blunderland lets younger readers get to know the girl everyone wants to be friends with, and proves once again that Phyllis Reynolds Naylor knows the fears, foibles, and fun of being a girl.
Readers need not be familiar with Alice, the effervescent star of the perennially popular series for the 12 and up set, to relish this encounter in the second of a "prequel" trilogy aimed at a younger audience. Followed through her fourth-grade year, the motherless, ever-embarrassed Everygirl copes with her older brother, Lester, here a less secure, adolescent version of the character familiar to series fans; attempts to drive away the humorless housekeeper their father hires when Alice gets into one too many scrapes; and learns about prenatal development when her teacher's wife is pregnant (and with Naylor, readers can be sure that all questions will be answered, even the ones about where unborn babies "go to the bathroom"). Some of the funniest moments revolve around Lester's relationship with Alice; she can never tell when he's putting her on, and when he feeds her a preposterous story about a girl he likes that she has been adopted by people who feed her only scraps and that she plans to run away to work in a rice paddy in China she and her friends start saving their money and send her a care package. There are poignant scenes as well, notably when the teacher's wife's joy in her newborn reminds Alice of her own immense loss from her mother's death. As in her best Alice novels, Naylor writes with such wit and insight that she turns the struggles of everyday life into optimistic comedy. Ages 7-up.