Cousins of Clouds

Cousins of Clouds
Tracie's NEW BOOK!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Harriet Bean and the League of Cheats

Harriet Bean
And the League of Cheats
By Alexander McCall Smith
Illustrated by Laura Rankin

What is a cheat? What is a league? How do you think these two things will be combined in this story? Before reading page one what else do you already know about the book?

Discussion Guide:

  1. What did Harriet discover about her aunt? Why did they want her to come over?
  2. Who do the aunts think must be cheating Mr. Fetlock? Why? How does Harriet dress? Why?
  3. Describe Aunt Thessalonika and Aunt Japonica. Would you like to have Harriet’s aunts as your own? Why or why not?
  4. What does a detective do? What are disguises? Would you ever like to have a disguise? When?
  5. What is a jockey’s job? Would you like to be one? Why or why not?
  6. What had someone done to Black Lightening’s hooves? How was Harriet able to discover it?
  7. Have you ever discovered information that you weren’t supposed to know? Did you tell anyone? Did it scare you?
  8. Why does Harriet study the boots on the way to the race? What does she learn?
  9. Who does Harriet realize is the cheat? How? What plan do they make together?
  10. What happens when Harriet rides Black Lightening? Would you want to ride him? Why do they think she, too, is cheating?
  11.  Who led the league of cheats? How did Harriet and her aunts scare him?
  12. What will happen to the cheater after the story closes? What makes you think this?
  13. What should happen to people who cheat?  Why do you think people cheat? How do people learn not to cheat?
  14. Describe how do Harriet’s aunts scared Charlie Heat. What happens next? Why is it important?
  15. Often in mystery stories clues are given that are not true (these are called red herrings). What are some false clues that were given in this story? Did they keep you guessing? Why or why not?


Language Arts:

Harriet Bean and the League of Cheats has many great words that you may not know. Try to figure out the meaning by reading the sentence or look them up in a dictionary if you’re stuck. Then, draw a picture that helps you remember what the definition is.

Ch. 1: ridiculous, expecting, ancient, disguised
Ch. 2: interfering, jockey, jodhpurs, extracted, flourish
Ch. 3 companion, disturbed, ordinary, powerless
Ch. 4 scramble, suspicious, collided, exhausted
Ch. 5 sabotage, seethe, dashing, flustered
Ch. 6 mount, hoisted, reins, deliberately,
Ch. 7: beckoned, sniveling, accused, icily, limp


If a horse eats one pound of oats a day and two pounds of hay then how much of each does he need for the week? The month? The year?

If a horse can run ten laps around the track without needing water, how many times must he stop if he could go around it 30 times? How did you figure it out?

If it takes fifteen minutes to saddle a horse, how many horses can you saddle in an hour? Two hours? Three?


Study the illustrations of Laura Rankin in the book. What tools do you think she used to create them? How is working in black and white different from using color? Crate your own black and white illustration of another scene from the novel that is not yet illustrated.