Naylor, Phyllis R. Essay, Research Paper
Monday November 23, 1998
Phyllis Renolds Naylor: Her Life Reflected in Her Alice Books
Phyllis Renolds Naylor was born in Anderson, Indiana on January 4, 1933. She has written over eighty books for children, teenagers, and adults, but her Alice books are most famous. Phyllis Naylor reflects her life as a child in all her Alice books.
Phyllis started the Alice series so she could write down all of the embarrassing things that happened to her as a child. She has provided comfort to many readers through Alice and her friends. Most of the books in her Alice series show the readers many of the ins and outs life takes her through (Hipple 404). Naylor has been through many of the agonies and joys that Alice McKinley experiences in her books and is glad she does not have to go through them again (Qtd. in Naylor, The Agony of Alice back flap). Basically, Phyllis takes her life as a young girl growing up and puts them in her books. For example, Alice wants to be a clinical psychologist, and Phyllis studied to be a clinical psychologist (Naylor 55). Alice?s father manages a music store, and she works in it on Saturday?s. Naylor got the idea of a music store from the one she used to sit in waiting for her son (All but Alice back flap). The most vivid memory in Naylor?s mind is the time she was playing Tarzan with a boy in her neighborhood, when she was eight (Naylor 94). She was Jane and he was Tarzan, at some point in the script she was supposed to let him kiss her. Although she wanted him to kiss her, she collapsed with embarrassment everytime he got near her face. (Naylor 94) This episode takes place in The Agony of Alice.
?I began thinking of all the other things I had done as a young girl
that were silly or stupid, and how I frequently hoped that whoever
had seen me do them had either forgotten them or by now
was dead…? (Naylor 94)
Phyllis Naylor?s books are about the minor decisions that affect peoples daily lives (Hipple 402). She includes this in this Alice series. Everyday Alice McKinley experiences something new, she makes decisions that sometimes she regrets. Naylor is also able to portray the realities of contemporary society into her books (Hipple 402). For example: when Alice is asked by Patrick [her boyfriend] to join him for dinner at his parent?s country club. Alice has no idea what she is going to wear, or which fork to use (Hipple 402).
Phyllis Naylor includes many themes in her books. Most come from her back-ground as a child. Religion is the most important one. It comes from having a ?deeply religious? family as a child (Hipple 398). She describes Christianity as: ?a positive work ethics, tolerance, and having faith in some one larger than oneself? (qtd. in Hipple 399). In her Alice books she incorporates religion into Elizabeth. One of Alice?s best friends, Elizabeth and her family go to church every Sunday. Phyllis brings up many of the questions about God, and religion in Elizabeth and Alice. Another theme in Phyllis?s books, is the importance of work. Being useful and constructive is another key theme in
many of her books. She also incorporates the importance of community, into her books. Naylor is constantly active in many projects and groups in her community. (Hipple 403) In Naylor?s world the mature individual is the one who recognizes the family and community, accepts help when it is needed, works to make the world a better place, and accepts responsibility for his or her own future (Hipple 404).
Phyllis Renolds Naylor?s books are true to life, not only hers but the lives of others. She writes the Alice books for a reason: to show her readers that they are not alone. There are other people who experience these problems, and they live through it. People many not get the life they want, they should just be happy they get a life at all. Phyllis is thankful for the life God gave her, even the embarrassing things she went through. ?I am happy and excited, restless and driven, all at the same time. But I go on writing because an idea in the head is like a rock in my shoe: I just can?t wait to get it out? (Naylor 121).