One day, out of the blue, Harriet Bean's dad says to her, 'Your aunts would like to hear about that!' Harriet is shocked - this is the first time she's heard anything about any aunts, and suddenly, she has five of them! Naturally, she's very curious to meet them, especially as her dad has told her that they each have a rather special ability ...Read MoreOne day, out of the blue, Harriet Bean's dad says to her, 'Your aunts would like to hear about that!' Harriet is shocked - this is the first time she's heard anything about any aunts, and suddenly, she has five of them! Naturally, she's very curious to meet them, especially as her dad has told her that they each have a rather special ability (apart from Aunt Majolica who's just extremely bossy). The trouble is, the family was split up years ago and they all lost touch with one another. Will Harriet be able to reunite her dad with his sisters and enable the family portrait that was started many many years ago to finally be completed? She is determined, and starts her quest for the five missing aunts with a trip to the circus ...Read Less
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Publishers Weekly, 2006-05-22 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) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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