Illustrated by Haruki Niwa
Since a tragic traffic accident took both her parents at a young age, Alice has lived with her aunt and uncle and their many children. She aspires to go to high school, but her grumpy uncle has made it very clear that he has neither the patience for her, nor the funds to keep up with her dreams. After seeing an ad in a paper for new maikos in her home city of Kyoto, Alice jumps at the chance to return and possibly escape her family, find a new job, and potentially reconnect with a childhood friend. But, the Kyoto she finds upon arrival is now what she expects. Everything is slightly off - streets and shrines aren’t where she expects; no one seems to pay for anything with money; and, there are anthropomorphized animals talking to her. She then finds out that her reasons for becoming a maiko are not pure enough. Alice must find a profession that will fulfill her life’s purpose, or she’ll risk being expelled from this Kyoto before being reunited with her friend, or worse, suffer even more dire consequences.
As readers may suspect from anything with the name "Alice" in the title, our main is in a fantastical world and must figure out the rules of her new surrounding and survive to the best of her ability. This is a cute story that mirrors some of the struggles of the classic Alice in Wonderland tale while adding a fresh layer of conflict for our Alice to work through and a dash of angst that isn't too over-the-top for younger audiences. There are some heartbreaking moments with Alice's uncle traumatically ousting her. Between that, the cultural context of Japanese citizenry not mandatorily attending high school, and a few exchanges between Alice and her new boss needing some emotional maturity, this title would be best suited for upper elementary where readers will fully appreciate Alice's predicament.
Sara's Rating: 8/10
Suitability Level: Grades 5-8
Publication Date: April 19, 2022
ISBN: 9781427870971 (Paperback)
Tags: Rating: 8/10, Suitability: Elementary School, Suitability: Middle School, Manga, Magic, Isekai, Adaptations, TokyoPop
I've been reading manga and comicbooks for years. Now, I write reviews and other helpful things for School Librarians, teachers, parents, and students.
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