The Five Lost Aunts of Harriet Bean

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Overview

When Harriet Bean's father mentions that he has five sisters—whom Harriet has never met—she is immediately intrigued. Harriet is determined to uncover the whereabouts of her five lost aunts, but with nothing more than an unfinished family portrait and a few outdated clues, will she be able to locate them? Join Harriet in her search to reunite her father with his five lost sisters—Veronica, Harmonica, Majolica,...
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Overview

When Harriet Bean's father mentions that he has five sisters—whom Harriet has never met—she is immediately intrigued. Harriet is determined to uncover the whereabouts of her five lost aunts, but with nothing more than an unfinished family portrait and a few outdated clues, will she be able to locate them? Join Harriet in her search to reunite her father with his five lost sisters—Veronica, Harmonica, Majolica, Japonica, and Thessalonika.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This paper-over-board caper, the first in a series by adult mystery writer Smith, combines humor and intrigue as it introduces a plucky aspiring sleuth. Nine-year-old Harriet Bean learns that her absent-minded father, an inventor of "useless" devices, has five sisters. She is astonished at the news and at the fact that her father has lost track of them ("But what happened?... You can't have lost my aunts just like that," says she). Harriet's father reveals that his farming family, stricken by poverty, had to split up the siblings as children. He then shows Harriet an unfinished painting of him and his sisters as youngsters, explaining that his father couldn't afford to pay the artist to complete it. Harriet decides to track down her aunts so that the portrait ("with blanks where the heads should be") can be completed. Harriet's search leads to some amusingly madcap moments: Aunt Veronica, who performs as a strong woman in a circus, saves Harriet's dad from an elephant's stranglehold. And when they then track down Aunt Harmonica, an opera singer and ventriloquist, Veronica holds her sister upside-down so that she can sing after she begins choking on a lozenge just as the curtain rises. The remaining aunts possess a bit less pizzazz. Yet Smith adds ample comic twists to keep kids entertained, and Rankin's (The Handmade Alphabet) playful pictures (especially an artist's resourceful solution to the portrait problem) will likely bring readers back for Harriet Bean and the League of Cheats. Ages 7-9. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-An offhand comment from her father sets nine-year-old Harriet Bean on the path of finding the five aunts whom she has never known. This seems like the perfect start of a juicy family mystery but it never quite turns into one. When given the full story of her father's loss of his five older sisters and a clue to the whereabouts of one of them, Harriet embarks on a hasty journey of collection. Useful coincidences make the women ridiculously easy to locate; it also helps that the final two are mind readers and come seeking her. The real mystery is how the father can possibly be absentminded enough to misplace five sisters. All of them are likable characters with interesting personality quirks and gadgets: strong-woman Veronica uses pedal power to drive her circus trailer from city to city, and twin detectives Thessalonika and Japonica are masters of disguise with convincing costumes. It is these two who give Harriet the chance to solve a mystery in the sequel, which takes place at a racetrack's stables. Masquerading as a jockey, Harriet is confronted with a villain who uses glue to stick a horse's feet to the floor so that he won't run well the next day. It's contrived stuff such as this that takes most of the charm out of this easy chapter-book series.-Kathleen Meulen, Blakely Elementary School, Bainbridge Island, WA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Smith is back with another series for young readers, this time with a girl as the protagonist. Harriet Bean, like Smith's beloved adult book characters, has an interest in detective work. When her father casually mentions that he has five sisters, Harriet is intrigued. And when her father shows her an unfinished family portrait, Harriet decides to find her aunts and complete the painting. Like the Chinese brothers, these sisters have special powers: One is strong, another bossy, the twins can read minds and the last is a master singer and ventriloquist. Short on believability but long on fun, this first Harriet Bean shows promise. Unfortunately, the second installment, Harriet Bean and the League of Cheats is not as charming and hardly involves the aunts at all. The mindreading twins, who run their own detective agency, call on Harriet to help them with a case. With characters ridiculously named Ed, Ted and Fred, Harriet masquerades as a jockey so she can find out why a racehorse trainer's horses are suddenly losing races. Yawn. (illustrations not seen) (Fiction. 79)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781428103887
  • Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
  • Publication date: 7/26/2006
  • Series: The Harriet Bean Series
  • Format: CD

Meet the Author

Alexander McCall Smith
Alexander McCall Smith has written more than 50 books, including the bestselling No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency mysteries and The Sunday Philosophy Club. A professor of medical law at Edinburgh University, he was born in what is now Zimbabwe and taught law at the University of Botswana.

Laura Rankin is the illustrator of Rabbit Ears, Swan Harbor and The Handmade Alphabet. She lives in Maine.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2006

    THIS BOOK IS AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    the first day i got it, i already read half the book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!i could have read the whole book, but, i had 2 go 2 bed,so, i read the other half the minute i woke up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! this book is a-must-have, very, very, very, very highly reccommended!!!!!!!!:)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2008

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    Posted January 9, 2009

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