A Girl Called Harry

Storylines Notable Book for 2011

Harriet Jasmine Emerald Florence Mabey McDonald (Harry for short) wonders if an imagination is something fast, like a cheetah - in which case it's not your fault if it runs away with you, because you couldn't stop it.
Or is it something little, like a celebrity's handbag dog, which can only run away with you if you let it?
When the new girl starts at school, and takes over Harry's best friend, her imagination runs riot.
Perhaps your imagination is more like a kite, which can carry you away...


The day the new girl arrived, we were the first ones to see her. We were Official New Girl Spotters. We got to hang around the door of our classroom, waiting for everyone else to arrive – Piper, Aleesha, Tina, Zoe, Renee, Latisha (not Claudine, of course) – and when they turned up, we passed on the news before they could see for themselves. "Guess what? New girl!"

They were as excited as we were. Not the boys, of course, they weren't excited at all.

"Not another girl," Karl Ballentyne groaned. "There's too many already. Can we send her back?"

We saw her first because Jessica was ready on time for once, so we got to school early, and spotted her through the classroom windows. There she was, with her parents, talking to Mr Cool and the principal, Mr Bennett. Her dad was in there, anyway. I couldn't see her mum, but she might have been trying to keep out of the principal's way as he flapped his arms around, explaining what a fantastic school it was.

Yeah, right, her mum would be thinking, a fantastic school, run by a lunatic who thinks he's a giant flamingo.

The story behind the book

You might be able to guess what inspired some of the events in this book from the dedication, which reads:
This book is for Brooklyn School
Teachers, staff and students
And families, past and present.

This is the school that my children all went to. But after the dedication, there is a line that points out:
All characters are of course entirely fictitious!

Reader's Activity

• I really like the leaping cheetah on the back cover of this book. Send me an email and tell me something you've found out about cheetahs.

• I also like the way the book designer has made words out of the kite string. I'm sure this is harder than it looks. Have a go and see if you can make a kite string sentence.

• Names are fascinating. I spend a lot of time thinking about what to call my characters, but it's not just people who have interesting names. What about pets, racehorses, roses, boats, streets or paint colours?

• If you were named like Harry after a favourite flower, precious stone and place name, what would your name be? What other "favourites" would make a good name?


"Harriet Jasmine Emerald Florence Mabey McDonald likes cats, drawing, and exercising her imagination. She doesn't like sport, Karl Ballentyne ..." read more

"Harriet Jasmine Emerald Florence Mabey McDonald is a girl in year 8. She has a normal life and a best friend called Jessica. But all of that changes on the day the new girl arrives and suddenly life is turned upside down ..." Storytime Books for Kids

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