Cover Image: Just Harriet

Just Harriet

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Member Reviews

Just Harriet is a charming, engaging chapter book/young middle grade book with a memorable, relatable protagonist. Filled with sweet illustrations and set in a small island town, this story will appeal to fans of stories set in motels/B&B’s, lovers of animal stories, and readers who enjoy stories with strong grandparent bonds. Finally, this is definitely another pick for kids who love Ramona Quimby!
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3.5 Stars


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.
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I received an electronic ARC from HarperCollins Children's Books through NetGalley.
Arnold has created another delightful main character. Readers meet Harriet as she is struggling to cope with unexpected life changes. Her mom has been placed on bedrest for her pregnancy so she has to spend the summer with her grandmother on Marble Island. This happens quickly and her parents don't handle this porti0n well. She is angry and hurt and scared and... Arnold shares Harriet's responses in a manner middle grade readers will connect with. As the story unfolds, we see Harriet learn about herself and how she interacts with others. She is able to begin expressing her emotions and deals with the emotions her anger is masking. 
I would love to see more stories about Harriet as she copes when the baby arrives.
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When her mom's complicated pregnancy disrupts her family's summer plans, a spirited third grader winds up at her grandmother's house on an island where she uncovers a mystery that helps her connect with her father.

This sweet chapter book is bursting with personality and family love. A dash of mystery and a colorful cast of characters (plus cat and dog frenemies) keep the plot engaging as Harriet wrestles with her feelings of abandonment and disappointment over the unexpected changes in her family. Ultimately, Harriet will realize that no matter how many things change, the love of her parents is always a constant. I'd recommend this story to readers in grades 2-4 who enjoy contemporary fiction.
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I am so excited to have this new character to share with young readers. Harriet quickly becamse one of my favorites, and I think kids are going to love her. She is honest and lets the reader know exactly what she is thinking, and many of us can relate as we laugh with her. Harriet is being sent to stay with her grandmother for the summer while her mom is placed on bed rest for a pregnancy that Harriet is not to happy about. While she looks for a "treasure" that her dad had mentioned, she begins to learn more about him. Fun book!
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A sweet, charming and endearing story! Harriet, Nanu, Matzo Ball and Moneypenny are a delight. Readers are going to enjoy following their antics and adventures! The B&B, the Gingerbread House, and Marble Island make for a treasure of a setting. Harriet’s voice and personality are certainly something special as well. Elana K. Arnold sure knows how to create a character that can find its way into the hearts of readers.
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3 stars 

Once readers meet Harriet, they, too, see the irony in this title. There's nothing simple about this character; she is A LOT. This is why it's understandable that at the very start of the novel, when her parents learn that mom has to go on bed rest for the next two months (the duration of her pregnancy and the bulk of Harriet's summer break), no one can blame them for shipping Harriet and her cat off to stay with her grandmother. This is where the fun begins. 

Harriet is dealing with a lot of sadness throughout the novel: missing her parents, feeling bitter about having to leave home temporarily and about the impending arrival of the baby (who wasn't supposed to change anything!), and experiencing general kid feelings. Readers of all ages will notice that Harriet interacts with these feelings in different ways (and most are not too productive). 

The "Just" part does come into play, unfortunately, in the sense that the development feels so limited. There's promise: an exciting mystery object, fun characters who reveal that they knew her dad as a kid, and a new location to explore with her cat and her grandmother's dog. However, none of these characters or leads really evolves into anything too gripping. In fact, when I got to the end of the book, I turned the page and audibly said, "What?!" thinking something was wrong with the file. I really enjoy this writer, including her most recent preceding middle grade book, so I am a bit surprised to find this one stopping short. 

Though I do think young readers will enjoy this, and I will continue to devour this author's works, this one wasn't the most memorable for me.
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With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an early copy in return for an honest review.

I enjoyed getting to spend time with Harriet on Marble Island. She reminds me a lot of Ramona and I think 3rd and 4th graders will enjoy Harriet. Her struggles are relatable and the writing style works well for younger middle grade readers. Definitely a book to add to my classroom library.
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What worked:
The author successfully describes Harriet’s conflicted feelings about a new baby joining the family. She has nightmares and sometimes wets the bed. These strong emotions are common for young readers and should help them connect with the story. Harriet feels anger toward her parents for the changes she’s experiencing but then feels guilt and love for them. She's conflicted with sharing her true feelings because then they might not notice the pain she’s going through. Harriet also has a bad habit of lying to hide her embarrassment and frustrations. The lies add some confusion early in the book since readers are learning about the characters, setting, and plot from Harriet. Her words can’t immediately be trusted, so readers need to think twice about what she’s saying.
The surface-level problem is Harriet’s attempt to make her life interesting while spending the summer on an island with her grandmother. She’s convinced there might be something valuable to be found, as her father said the real treasure was in the Gingerbread House. Of course, she must discover clues to the treasure with the first one being an old key she found in a shed behind the house. However, where is the lock that fits the key? The true problem is Harriet’s struggle with adapting to the changes occurring within her family.
The setting takes place where Harriet’s father grew up, so she imagines what his life must have been like as a young boy. She finds his name on a library card and checks out the book herself. She visits the local ice cream shop and sees his name on the wall for the record of most consecutive days of eating ice cream. Her shared experiences with her father help her understand and appreciate him. She’s upset that he doesn’t her, but she starts to realize that she hasn’t taken the time to understand him.
What didn’t work as well:
The conflict wasn’t overly dramatic, so there was never a sense of high tension or suspense. There wasn’t even a deadline that might create some artificial uncertainty. However, the author didn’t intend to create a dramatic story filled with problems, and she ended up with a sweet story of a young girl trying to recover the happiness within her family. 
The final verdict:
Treasure is found where you least expect it. The author skillfully creates a sweet story of a young girl, as she learns to appreciate her life and family. The emotions will resonate with young readers, and I recommend you give it a shot.
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I really liked Harriet. I enjoyed how her emotions were portrayed so realistically and that you got to see how she handled those emotions and the multiple changes going on in her life.  I also loved how she was trying to stop the bad habit of lying and eventually succeeding. The artwork was great and I loved her cat! I was hoping for more, but the book has a nice ending.  I’ll just have to leave it to my imagination what will happen to her next.  :)
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This was the cutest story and definitely reminded me of Ramona which I loved as a kid. Harriet just finished third grade when she finds out that she is going to be stuck all summer with her grandmother on Marble Island where she has an inn that she runs. Harriet’s mom has to be on bed rest until she has the new baby in august and with her Dad at work all day, her mom can’t take care of Harriet. She wasn’t very happy about being gone for the whole summer and Harriet doesn’t always tell the truth which she doesn’t know why she lies but it just happens. So her and her cat matzo ball are at the inn for the summer and she ends up discovering that her dad and mom do miss her and it is an adjustment for them having her gone so long as well and she solves a mystery involving her dad when he was kid. This was just a fun read and I really liked Harriet, her grandmother and the guests that she meets at the inn as well as the residents of the island since he father grew up there as well. 


Thanks to Walden Pond Press and Netgalley for the complimentary copy of this book in e-book form. All opinions in this review are my own.
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Harriet's voice is perfect and her story, on a setting that is its own character, mixed with Arnold's perfect writing style makes for a wonderful early middle grade read!
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This is a very light and fluffy read for young readers that preaches the ol' proverbial lesson, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." I'm giving it two stars because the story is just...how do I put it? Forgettable is a good word. There wasn't anything whimsical or heavy-hitting in this book, nothing like what you'll read in Kate DiCamillo's stories of love, loss and self-discovery. This is just a simple story about a very pampered little girl who must deal with spending a few weeks at her grandmother's adorable B&B on a tranquil little touristy island. Oh the misery! Yes, yes, I know Harriet is very young, so we should give her some space for her temper tantrums, but she's not a lot of fun to be around, and I felt quite sorry for her overly coddling grandmother who was bending herself backward just to keep things pleasant. Sorry, I just couldn't relate to Harriet's plight, but I'm sure modern-day kiddos living in the upper-echelons of society would disagree. 

I don't know...I guess I was just expecting more because there are some truly poignant--magical even--middle grade books that stick with me long after I read them. I was hoping the basset hound and the orange tabby cat would have larger roles in this story, but nah. I suppose this would be a good bedtime story books for parents to read to their restless kiddos. It certainly had me nodding off a time or two. Meh.
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Situation, Not Story

While reading JUST HARRIET, I couldn’t help but thinking of an old writing professor’s constant critique, “you have a situation here, not a story.” A little girl goes to stay with her grandmother on an island for the summer while her mother is sick. A great premise, but it just doesn’t get much farther. Each time a plot appeared to be forming, it would be ended and resolved just a few pages later. It’s hard to invest in a story if there doesn’t seem to be one!
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I felt this is a fabulous book for children both young and old! I loved that there was a point, a lesson for young Harriet to learn, and she finally learned it by the end of the book. I think I wore a smile each time I returned to read more. I’m not even the target audience, and I thoroughly enjoyed this.

This book is perfect for a child about to become an older sibling for the first time, or for a child needing to be away from home for a while. Maybe staying with family for the summer or a holiday. It’s a family-centric book, and that appeals to me very much.

My only negative thought is I think the age group of 6-10-year-olds/ grades 1-5 is a bit young. Not for the lessons learned, but for the vocabulary. I know children need to expand their vocabulary, and I’m all for that, but after a while, most kids will lose interest if the wording is too difficult for them. (That’s to say if they’re to be reading this independently and not having it read chapter by chapter to them.) I’d market to a slightly older audience, or change some of the more difficult words. Not all, but some. Keep kids learning, but don’t have it worded at such a high level that they walk away. Other than that, this would have been 5 stars from me.

Congratulations on your upcoming release! I’m sure it will be quite a hit!
I read an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. I appreciate the opportunity to read this fine book.
It’s slated to be released on February 1, 2022
Walden Pond Press
By Elana K. Arnold
208 pp.
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An adorable, loveable book by Elana K Arnold for fans of her Bat series--a perfect voice for younger readers.
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I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

I really enjoyed this book and my niece, who I read it to, enjoyed it as well!
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Just Harriet
by Elana K. Arnold
Pub Date 01 Feb 2022 
 HarperCollins Children's Books,  Walden Pond Press
 Children's Fiction  |  Middle Grade  |  Mystery & Thrillers 



I am reviewing a copy of Just Harriet through HarperCollins Children’s Books, Walden Pond Press and Netgalley:



There are some things you should know about Harriet Wermer:  She just finished third grade, she has a perfect cat named Matzo Ball.  Harriet 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.  Maybe the last part isn’t the full truth.




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.  What Harriet doesn’t like is her Father made the decision without even asking her about it.






When Harriet arrives on Marble Island, she discovers it is full of surprise 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.



I give Just Harriet five out of five stars!


Happy Reading!
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Another sweet book by author Elana K. Arnold.  Harriet just finished third grade and is not excited about the change in her summer plans due to her new baby brother's imminent arrival.   However, once at her grandmother's she finds a bit of a mystery to keep her and the readers entertained.  The imperfect Harriet, is a perfectly relatable character for kids.  This should be a popular book for grades 3-6.
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Just Harriet is a wonderful book! Harriet (named after Harriet the Spy) has to live with her Nanu during the summer while her mother is on bedrest at home.  Nanu lives on an island and runs a B & B. Harriet brings along her cat-Matzo Ball, but will she get along with Moneypenny, Nau's dog? Harriet finds a key and goes on an adventure to see what it opens. Harriet also learns more about her dad and her Nanu along the way.

I loved this book and I know that children are going to enjoy it as much! There is adventure, problems to work out and stories to listen to. This book definitely sets itself up for a sequel and I can't wait to read it!
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