What are you reading right now? The GP team are completely obsessed with our latest book club read…
Alice-Miranda In New York by Jacqueline Harvey
What is this book about? Well, Alice-Miranda is always having amazing adventures as you probably know and in this book, she’s off to New York City! We’re totally jealous. Alice-Miranda’s family owns a fancy schmancy store in New York called Highton’s On Fifth and there’s a huge party planned for the store’s reopening… but things don’t seem to be going so well and Alice-Miranda’s dad seem really stressed out.
Who should read this book? Umm, everybody! D’uh! But if you’ve ever wanted to travel to New York, then this is totally the book for you. Alice-Miranda spends a month in the Big Apple and she gets to see all the sights and have a heap of fun… it almost feels like being there!
How do I find out more about this book? Alice-Miranda In New York is out now in all good bookstores and it’s only $15.95! You can also check out author Jacquie Harvey’s website by clicking here. And if you love love love Alice-Miranda as much as we do, click here for her blog. It’s totes amazing!
Mmm... New York pretzels are amazing!
AWESOME EXTRA STUFF…
We got to interview amazing author Jacqueline Harvey! Yippee! Read on for lots of Alice-Miranda goss…
Hi Jacquie! Please tell us about Alice-Miranda’s latest adventure!
Alice-Miranda is in bustling New York City. It’s a blur of skyscrapers, hot dog carts, chats with zoo animals and classes at Mrs Kimmel’s School for Girls. Alice-Miranda makes some fabulous new friends and also catches up with someone from home that she never expected to see. But there are problems plaguing the final renovations on her family’s glamorous department store, Highton’s on Fifth Avenue…
Ooh, sounds cool! So have you been to New York before? Why did you decide to set this story there?
I was lucky enough to visit New York in October 2010 and completely fell in love with the city. It’s got such an amazing buzz and really is the ‘city that never sleeps’. I visited several girls’ schools on the Upper East Side of Manhattan that provided the inspiration for Mrs Kimmel’s School for Girls and the idea of Alice-Miranda’s family having one of their Highton’s department stores on the glorious Fifth Avenue right opposite Central Park was just too tempting.
Do you plan to write more Alice-Miranda books?
Yes, I’m currently working on her sixth adventure, which is called Alice-Miranda Shows The Way. She’s back at school and the girls are excited about being able to attend the village show for the first time ever, but of course things don’t go quite to plan. I’m still thinking about where to take her after that. Perhaps Paris, or the Alps for a skiing adventure – she could even go to Japan perhaps or Hong Kong. There will be at least eight books in the series, maybe more!
Would you like to see the books turned into a movie and if so, who should play Alice-Miranda?
When I write the stories they play out like movies in my head so that would be a dream come true. I think an animated series could work well too. It’s hard to say who I’d like to see play Alice-Miranda – there are so many talented children out there and it would depend how far into the future it happens (if it ever does, but fingers crossed!). There’s every possibility that the actor hasn’t even been born yet!
What were your favourite books when you were young?
My favourite book when I was young was Heidi by Johanna Spyri. I loved the idea of the Swiss Alps and when I visited Switzerland about five years ago I was completely mesmerised on our train journey through the mountains. It was just as I had imagined when I read Heidi all those years before. I also loved anything by Enid Blyton and Colin Thiele. When I was very small I adored the Richard Scarry books with all their intricate details. A Little Princess was another favourite and Tom’s Midnight Garden.
Can you write us a short story right this second? Start with this sentence: ‘It was a dark and stormy night…’
‘It was a dark and stormy night, in the park, just over there beyond the lake,’ the old man pointed. ‘As the rain beat down and the wind howled, me and my best mate Arkie Fuzz were stuck…’
Nick sighed. He hated being impatient with his grandfather but this morning he was supposed to meet Ellie at the cubby at nine and it was already quarter to. Pop was sitting in his comfy chair on the front porch, watching the joggers and the people walking their dogs, like he did every morning.
‘It’s a great story Pop, and you know I love hearing about Arkie Fuzz but you told me that one last week,’ Nick frowned. ‘And I’ve got to be somewhere.’
‘All right Nicky, off you go …but just keep your eyes open over there. You never know what you might find.’
Nick kissed his grandfather on the forehead, swung his pack onto his back, raced down the path and out the front gate.
He was late. Ellie was already at their cubby, hidden deep within the overhanging branches of an ancient Moreton Bay Fig tree. It backed onto a sandstone outcrop and in the front, the branches had grown so heavy they skimmed the ground and made a thick defence around the trunk. This was Nick and Ellie’s secret place – where they spent most weekends and almost all of the school holidays. Battles had been fought and won, princesses (and princes) rescued and most importantly their fortress had never once been penetrated by their enemies.
‘Where have you been?’ Ellie quizzed, as Nick skidded in under the branches.
‘Pop wanted to tell me a story,’ Nick frowned. He glanced at Ellie’s backpack. ‘Did you bring the stuff?’
‘Yeah, there’s some rope and Dad’s Maglite – the really big one so that we can knock anyone on the head if they try to steal the treasure, some occy straps, because dad always says they come in handy, there’s a screwdriver and a handsaw, umm…’
‘Sounds like a hardware shop,’ Nick grinned.
‘And there are roast beef sandwiches, choc chip muffins, some bananas and apples and cordial too. You know what mum’s like.’ Ellie rolled her eyes. ‘Anyway when I told her what we were doing she said that she would pack a feast – just like in the Secret Seven or the Famous Five. Except that she calls us the Troublesome Two.’
‘You didn’t tell her about the cave did you?’ Nick looked at Ellie.
‘No, of course not. I just said that we were going on a trek to make a map of the whole park for a school project, that’s all,’ Ellie was defensive.
‘Why? What did you tell your mum?’
‘Same. That’s what we agreed,’ Nick replied.
‘Come on then, let’s see this secret cave – hopefully there’s more than just some dumb old bit of timber in there. I’m looking for treasure,’ Ellie raced ahead across the grass.
The park was busy. There were mothers pushing prams, rollerbladers whizzing along the concrete paths, cyclists; some dawdling, others apparently practicing for the Tour de France and horse riders, walking, trotting and cantering along the dirt track.
The two kids ran across the open ground, until they reached the edge of the lake where the foliage was thick and they had to push their way through the shrubbery. Hidden from view, the sandstone wall behind the lake made a perfect climbing wall.
‘Are you sure there’s really a cave up there?’ Ellie asked.
‘Yeah, of course. I saw it with my own eyes and I would have gone into it yesterday except that it was late and I had to get home,’ Nick replied.
‘Come on, I’ll show you.’
He began to climb steadily upwards, pausing to make sure that Ellie was ok. The rock face didn’t seem as steep or as slippery as it had yesterday and it didn’t take long to reach the top. Nick crept along the ledge to the opening.
‘I thought you said that this was hard.’ Ellie’s eyes twinkled as she hauled herself to the top. ‘Cool, she peered through the vines. It really is a cave.’
‘I told you so,’ Nick raised his eyebrows.
He wrestled the backpack off his shoulders and felt for the torch. Ellie was right when she said that they could use it as a weapon if anyone tried to steal their treasure. Nick pulled back the green veil and shone the light into the opening. At first he was disappointed. It only looked about a metre deep – more like a shallow hole in the rock than a real cave. Ellie urged him to climb inside and take a better look. She followed close behind. He shone the torch around and gasped. There was another hole – big enough to climb through. It was a proper cave.
‘Hey Ellie – it goes all the way back through there.’ The two friends looked at each other, unsure if they should go further. Ellie had often wondered where the vagrants that wandered the park during the day slept – she was hoping that this wasn’t one of their bedrooms.
A damp tang assaulted their nostrils the further they edged towards the second opening. The first part of the cave was big enough to stand in but the hole leading into the next part was only big enough to crawl through. Nick shone the torch into the chamber and couldn’t believe his eyes.
‘Ellie, you’ve got to see this. It’s awesome.’
‘What – what’s in there?’ she was excited but scared too.
‘It’s a billycart.’
‘A billycart? How did that get here?’ Ellie climbed through behind Nick. They crawled into the chamber. Sure enough in the corner was a billycart. Nick pulled it toward him. The wheels turned and there was even a rope on the front to pull it with.
‘It looks like it’s been here for ages.’ Ellie bubbled with excitement. ‘I wonder who owns it.’
As Nick pulled it toward the hole, Ellie grabbed his arm.
‘Nick, Nick,’ she whispered. ‘There’s something inside it.’
A moth fluttered off the wall disturbed by the glare of the torchlight. Ellie squealed and Nick covered her mouth with the palm of his hand.
‘Shhh,’ Nick whispered.
‘Well, what is that?’ Ellie pointed at the seat where thankfully whatever it was, wasn’t moving.
Nick shone the torch on the furry mass.
‘It’s a…a teddy bear.’ Nick picked it up and turned it over. There was no mistaking. It was a bear. A very old and matted one, but just a bear.
Ellie sighed. ‘Thank goodness. I thought it was something evil. Shine the torch around. ‘Maybe there are some secret compartments or something?’ Ellie imagined uncovering a vast treasure.
‘And maybe you’ve watched too many James Bond movies.
But there weren’t any other treasures. Only a few more moths and a sleepy caterpillar slowly edging its way up the wall.
‘It’s a pretty cool billycart. Let’s get it outside,’ Nick suggested.
Ellie devised a plan to lower the billycart to the ground. She had engineering in her blood. Her mother designed cars and her father taught mechanical engineering at the University. With the aid of four octopus straps, a length of rope and some muscles, she and Nick managed to get the billycart down without any damage. Nick stuffed the bear into his back pack and together they edged their way back down the rock face.
Taking cover behind the trunk of a giant oak tree Nick and Ellie examined their treasure. The billycart seemed to be made out of old timber boxes. On one side they could see the words Ecks and on the other, Schweppes. Nick ran his fingers over the outline of the words.
The wheels were another thing altogether. He’d never seen anything like them with hard rubber all the way around a metal rim.
Ellie glanced at the bear but was much more interested in the billycart.
‘I wonder who made it and how long it’s been in there?’ she was about to climb in and sit in the driver’s seat.
‘No – don’t . The seat might break and I want to take it home and let Grandad have a look at it.’ Nick fingered the woolly rope.
‘I think someone loved him a lot,’ Ellie looked at the bear.
Nick dropped the rope and picked up the teddy. He was a mangy looking creature with only one eye. His fur had been worn down to almost nothing in several places, but was still fluffy on his legs, giving a clue as to what he once looked like. ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we could find out who owned this stuff?’
‘I suppose,’ Ellie answered. ‘But what if they were just hiding it there lately and then they’d be annoyed that we took their stuff.’
‘I don’t think anyone has played with these things for ages. I reckon they’ve been here for years.’
Ellie turned the billycart over to see how the wheels were attached to the body. ‘Look!’ she exclaimed. ‘There’s some writing underneath.’
‘Where? Show me,’ Nick leaned over to look. ‘It says… no way… it says This billycart belongs to Arkie Fuzz 1936.’
‘What? Who’s that?’ Ellie asked.
‘Arkie Fuzz – my Pop’s always talking about him. They were best friends. I wonder why he left the billycart and the bear. Pop’s never going to believe this. Come on Ellie, we’ve got to show him.’
Tags: alice-miranda, Books, jacqueline harvey, stories