Thursday, March 6, 2008

A bevy of unusual aunts

Harriet Bean returns in this third installment of the Harriet Bean series. In previous books, she discovered a plethora of unusual aunts she never knew she had, and in this story she discovers yet another - Aunt Formica - who is a cowgirl, living in America. Her aunts Thessalonica and Japonica invite Harriet to travel with them from England to America to visit Aunt Formica, who is in some sort of trouble and needs their help. Once she finally arrives out west (nearly halfway through the book), we discover that Aunt Formica lives on a cattle ranch, and she's having trouble with cattle rustlers.

I have not read the other books in this series, but I listened to this one on CD because it's one of the children's books my library system has chosen to highlight during next summer's reading program for children. Maybe if I'd read the others, I'd have been more taken with this one, but I must say it left me fairly cold. There wasn't much of a mystery, the resolution was a bit silly and not terribly believable, and there was no character development to speak of. It seems to me that successful authors of books for adults often seem to whip off some kids' books without thinking much about it. I can't imagine this would have grabbed an editor's eye otherwise, and I'm puzzled why it was recommended for our library to highlight.

Other books for this same audience that I'd recommend instead include Clementine by Sara Pennypacker and the Judy Moody books (for strong female characters), the Cam Jansen series (for more thoughtful mysteries), and the Mercy Watson series (for humor).

The Cowgirl Aunt of Harriet Bean (#3 in the Harriet Bean series) by Alexander McCall Smith; read by Charlotte Perry (Recorded Books, 2007)

Other blog review:
Oodles of Oddies


  1. The aunt's names sure are unusual!

  2. Ladytink - they are - I can't remember the other ones, but they are similar!


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