Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Olivia Reviews the First Book in Her New Favorite Series: the Harriet Bean Books by Alexander McCall Smith

Eight-year-old Olivia (who had her birthday this month) now has a new favorite series that she is devouring: the Harriet Bean books by Alexander McCall Smith. I found them at the online library site while I was checking on the availability of his Akimbo series (of which they only have one), and hoped she might like them.

The other night she dashed into the family room, gripping the first book, and exclaimed in an excited way, "This is SUCH a good book! I've been so absorbed in it!" Yes, she really did say that, and yes, she was. She lay on her bed all evening and read the book from cover to cover. It's so fun to see kids connect with books. When she was done, she handed it to me and said, "Mom, you've got to read this!" And I will, so we can talk about it together.

But since I haven't finished it, and Olivia is anxious to tell everyone about it, I asked Olivia to do a quick review of the book she liked so much. Here is what she has to say about it, synopsis and all:

Written by Alexander McCall Smith
Illustrated by Laura Rankin

Harriet Bean lives with her absentminded inventor father. She learns, for the first time, that she has five aunts, her father's sisters. She takes an interest in that right away, especially when her father shows her a unfinished portrait of his family, and wants to know where they are. When her father tells her he has lost touch with them, she decides to take matters into her own hands, knowing her father is too absentminded to do so. She decides to write to the one aunt her father still has an old address for. Join Harriet Bean as she goes in search of her five lost aunts and tries to bring the family together again.

The way she went about finding the lost aunts was very interesting. And I thought she was clever in how she got her father to talk about his sisters. She discovered that the only way to get her absentminded father to talk about her aunts was to keep feeding him buttered scones and peppering him with questions. That's how she kept getting bits of the story from him. Isn't that funny? When she finds the aunts, she discovers they all have interesting jobs, but I'll let that be a surprise. I just loved this book. I hope you will, too.

P.S. I forgot to say that I loved the pictures in the book, especially of Harriet's father. And I'm still reading the second book, Harriet Bean and the League of Cheats, but it's good too. I think the third one, The Cowgirl Aunt of Harriet Bean, will be just as good.


  1. Great review, Olivia!! I agree with you, and I think my girls would, too. We listened to the audio book versions of all of these books last summer. We liked them very much :)

  2. Wonderful review, Olivia! Have you read the Max & Maddy books by McCall Smith? They're great, too! I wrote about them here---> http://www.hopeisthewordblog.com/2010/08/17/kids-picks-alexander-mccall-smith-selections/

    Keep up the good work!

  3. Olivia says:

    Miss Susan, I would love to hear the audio versions. I asked my mom to check on the library site, but she says they only have the books.

    Miss Amy, I haven't heard of those but I'll see if our library has them. Mom says now I should read the Akimbo books that he writes. She thinks I will like them, but I don't know if I want to read about boy adventures. She says adventure is fun to read about whether it happens to a boy or girl, but I think boys are boring and irritating.

  4. I have heard of the Akimbo books, but have not read them. I had not heard of the Max & Maddy books.

    Olivia, I agree with your Mom that adventures are good to read, whether the main character is a boy or a girl, but I agree with you that adventures with girls are more fun :) That is just my personal preference.

  5. What a fun series. i hadn't heard of them, so I will definitely look for them next time I'm in the library. Thanks for the recommendation, Olivia!

  6. Olivia says,

    You're welcome, Miss Catherine! I hope you like them.

  7. I had not heard of these books before! Thank you for such a great recommendation!

  8. I have this series in my library and cannot get students interested in them. I've read some of McCall's adult fiction so I know he is a good writer. I think this year I will have to do a read-aloud to garner more interest. I have his Akimbo series also.

    Thanks for bringing these books back to my attention!

  9. Olivia says:

    Thank you for reading my review, Miss Annette. I hope you like the books.

    Miss Peaceful Reader, I LOVE it when my mom reads aloud to me, so I think that's a good way to get kids interested. If they heard the first chapter, maybe they would want to check the books out. I was hooked from the first chapter.