Writer Phyllis Reynolds Naylor is ending her “Alice” series, which has stretched to 28 books, this October with the final book “Now I’ll Tell You Everything.”
Naylor introduced her heroine, who was then in sixth grade, in the 1985 book “The Agony of Alice.” Alice lives in Maryland with her father and brother, her mother having died several years previously. The most recent book, “Alice on Board,” came out in May 2012 and chronicled Alice’s adventures before attending college. Naylor says the next book will continue to the protagonist reaching the age of 60.
She said she was inspired to write the first book when she was thinking back through her own experiences.
“I began thinking about embarrassing things that happened to me during my life – tell me a year and I can tell you something embarrassing that happened – and I thought that might make a funny story,” Naylor said in an interview with Publishers Weekly. But more “Alice” books weren’t originally the plan. “When the book was published, reviewers began mentioning that Alice’s fans will await her further adventures, and that’s when we decided on making a series,” she said.
Unlike some other children’s series, the author said she didn’t want Alice being eternally a certain age.
“I wanted Alice to grow up, so I would have a challenge as a writer,” she said. “I didn’t want to be stuck in the same sitcom. Of course Alice changed, and not everyone liked it as she became more sophisticated. But I knew, once I made up my mind that I was going to carry her through the years, I had to be true to her. Once she became a real person in my head, I was determined to let her lead her own life. She directed the way she wanted to go.”
The author said she’s always happy to hear how much the books have affected readers.
“So many people write to say how much my books have meant to them and now they are reading them to their daughters,” Naylor said. “It makes me feel old, but it definitely is gratifying!”
In addition to the chronologically published “Alice” books, the series includes three prequels which follow Alice in elementary school. Over the years, the books have sometimes appeared on the American Library Association's list of the most frequently challenged books. Complaints against the books have included mentions of “nudity; offensive language; [and] religious viewpoint.”