ir.gif

Phyllis Naylor Talks About Alice

Posted on June 11, 2011 at 8:00 am

There’s a great interview in the Washington Post with local author Phyllis Reynolds Naylor about the forthcoming final installment to her popular Alice series of novels, Incredibly Alice.  “Alice is fictional, though she is like the daughter that I never had. I had no idea that she would become a series, but she was wildly popular. I wanted her to be a girl without a mother raised by her father and older brother who knew nothing about raising a girl. That is what makes the series funny,” says Naylor.  And she has some advice for kids who want to try to write:

I tell them to think about the time when they were most happy, sad or embarrassed and then write a few sentences about those feelings. Then start changing things like the main character, the location or even the ending to make the story fun and exciting. Then you have started with something personal, and it really grew with the help of your imagination!

I’m a big fan of the movie based on her book, “Alice Upside Down,” with Luke Perry, Lucas Grabeel, Alyson Stoner, and Penny Marshall.

Naylor wrote her own piece in the Post a few years ago about Alice and the letters from fans.  I liked what she had to say about how important it was to her that her parents read aloud.

My parents, they read aloud to us until we were 14 and 15. It was the late Depression, and we really didn’t have much of anything. But we did have books. They read with great drama. I think Dad read almost all of Mark Twain’s books aloud to us. He imitated all the voices, and I just loved it. And I must have thought, “If it’s so much fun listening to books, it must be even more fun writing books.” And it is.

Related Tags:

 

Books Writers

Alice Upside Down

Posted on November 3, 2008 at 8:00 am

B+
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
Profanity: None
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Reference to sad death and illness
Diversity Issues: Diverse characters

Based on the popular series of books by Phylis Reynolds Naylor, this understated but sensitive and warm-hearted film is funny, touching, and wise.

Middle school is miserable enough, but for Alice (Alyson Stoner) there are complications that are even more horrifying. She is brand new in town because her father (Luke Perry)
has just bought a music store in Silver Spring, Maryland, so they have moved away from everyone they know. She has gotten off on the wrong foot with just about everyone — a neighbor who is in her class in school (a muddy handshake and un-gracious rejection of her family’s gift of a meatloaf dinner), a boy from school (she accidentally opened the door to the changing room at the store and saw him in his boxers), and her terrifying new teacher, Mrs. Plotkin (Penny Marshall, in a welcome return to performing) by insisting that she was supposed to be moved to another class. But the most important reason she feels out of place (aside from being 11 years old) is that she misses her mother, who died when she was little, and her father does not want to talk about her.

Naylor and screenwriters Meghan Heritage and Sandy Tung have ably evoked the tumultuousness of 6th grade as Alice swings back and forth from misery to ecstasy and from over-confidence to utter humiliation and back again. When Miss Cole (Ashley Drane), the teacher she idealizes, directs the school play, Alice thinks all of her problems will be solved. All she needs to do is get the lead and fix the teacher up with her father so they can unite in marriage and in recognizing Alice as the fabulously talented, confident, and popular girl she knows she is destined to be.

Of course, that isn’t the way it all works out. Alice lapses into daydreams, forgets to do her homework, and finds that she did not inherit her mother’s gift for singing. But she also discovers that she can learn from her mistakes and that everyone deserves a second chance.

Stoner is an appealingly sincere young actress with a gift for comedy and “High School Musical’s” Lucas Grabeel is terrific as her older brother. Co-screenwriter Tung directs with enough respect for his characters and the audience that he lets everyone learn some lessons without having a sit-com resolution to every situation. It’s a fine family film, enthusiastically received when I introduced it at the Tallgrass Film Festival and I was delighted when it came in second for the festival’s audience award.

Related Tags:

 

Based on a book DVD/Blu-Ray Pick of the Week Family Issues For Your Netflix Queue Movie Mom’s Top Picks for Families
THE MOVIE MOM® is a registered trademark of Nell Minow. Use of the mark without express consent from Nell Minow constitutes trademark infringement and unfair competition in violation of federal and state laws. All material © Nell Minow 1995-2024, all rights reserved, and no use or republication is permitted without explicit permission. This site hosts Nell Minow’s Movie Mom® archive, with material that originally appeared on Yahoo! Movies, Beliefnet, and other sources. Much of her new material can be found at Rogerebert.com, Huffington Post, and WheretoWatch. Her books include The Movie Mom’s Guide to Family Movies and 101 Must-See Movie Moments, and she can be heard each week on radio stations across the country.

Website Designed by Max LaZebnik