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JUST HARRIET by Elana K. Arnold Kirkus Star


by Elana K. Arnold

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2022
ISBN: 978-0-06-309204-4
Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Third grader Harriet is convinced that she’s in for a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad summer.

Her mother is having a difficult pregnancy, so Harriet is getting shipped off for the summer to stay with her grandmother who runs a bed-and-breakfast on Marble Island. She’s always loved short visits to the tranquil island with her parents, but spending two whole months there without them means change, and Harriet does not like change. She especially doesn’t like the idea of getting a new sibling. Fortunately, she’s got her beloved cat Matzo Ball to keep her company on Marble Island, and when she finds a beautiful old key in her grandmother’s shed, things start to pick up. Suddenly, there’s a mystery to be solved, one involving her dad’s childhood on the island and Miss Marble, the witty centenarian who is the island’s namesake. And when Harriet befriends a sharp-eyed ornithologist whom everyone calls Captain, she discovers that there’s as much to learn about herself as there is about the island’s history. A flawed but intriguing heroine from the start, Harriet’s stubbornness, hot temper, and habit of lying will undoubtedly draw comparisons to the titular character in Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series. Cranky, crotchety kids will find a kindred spirit in this young girl who longs to be understood and to understand the puzzling world of adults. Meanwhile, the mystery of the antique key yields a solution better than a secret garden. All major characters read as White.

An engaging series opener about the power of truth to moor and free even the sulkiest of souls.

(Fiction. 7-10)