JUST HARRIET, by Elana K. Arnold, Walden Pond Press, Feb. 1, 2022, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 6-10)
A spunky girl finds herself living on an island with her grandmother during her mom’s tough pregnancy in Elana K. Arnold’s Just Harriet.
There are a few things you should know about Harriet Wermer:
- She just finished third grade.
- She has a perfect cat named Matzo Ball.
- She doesn’t always tell the truth.
- She is very happy to be spending summer vacation away from home and her mom and dad and all the wonderful things she had been planning all year.
Okay, maybe that last one isn’t entirely the truth.
Of course, there’s nothing Harriet doesn’t like about Marble Island, the small island off the coast of California where her nanu runs a cozy little bed and breakfast. And nobody doesn’t love Moneypenny, Nanu’s old basset hound. But Harriet doesn’t like the fact that Dad made this decision without even asking her.
When Harriet arrives on Marble Island, however, she discovers that it’s full of surprises, and even a mystery. One that seems to involve her Dad, back when he was a young boy living on Marble Island. One that Harriet is absolutely going to solve. And that’s the truth. —Synopsis provided by Walden Pond Press
The title character of Just Harriet is a handful. She’s always getting into mischief and she’s always busy. Her curiosity knows no bounds. And she has her own way of doing things. These traits are likely to resonate with and excite young readers who like an independent heroine.
Harriet is upset by the sudden change in her summer plans. And her frustration is palpable. But while Harriet might feel a bit abandoned by her parents, it’s clear that she is well loved by her family and appreciated by friends new and old.
Just Harriet is the first book in a planned chapter book series, and it feels like one. Harriet’s story arc only just gets started, and there’s a lot of room for character development. Though not super memorable for me as an adult, I do think young readers will enjoy Harriet’s adventures.