Synopses & Reviews
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to uncover the whereabouts of her five lost aunts, but with nothing more than an unfinished family portrait and a few outdated clues, will she be able to locate them?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.
"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 (1-58234-976-2; also May). Ages 7-9." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
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.