Series: Harriet The Spy #1
Published by Random House LLC on 2009-07-01
Genres: Classics, Young Adult
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Harriet M. Welsch is a spy. In her notebook, she writes down everything she knows about everyone, even her classmates and her best friends. Then Harriet loses track of her notebook, and it ends up in the wrong hands. Before she can stop them, her friends have read the always truthful, sometimes awful things she’s written about each of them. Will Harriet find a way to put her life and her friendships back together?
Retro Friday is a meme hosted by Angieville where on Fridays you review an older book!
I have an affinity for precocious children. Regular children irritate me, but give me a kid wise beyond their years and I will gladly read the book they are in. Harriet is slightly precocious, just enjoy to be real and not a mini-adult. I suppose in the midst of my blathering on about children I forgot to mention the premise of Harriet The Spy by Louise Fitzhugh.
You have probably gathered by now that Harriet is a spy. She wants to be a writer when she grows up, so now she writes down all of her observations in a notebook. Harriet has a route of people that she spies on. Of course, all does not come up roses when Harriet’s classmates find her notebook and read the mean things written about them. I mean, oh man, I would not want anyone reading my diary from when I was a little kid, so I can imagine what this was like.
I wish I had read this when younger, because I was a kid with a notebook, or rather a diary. I think I would have related to Harriet, minus the whole servants/rich kid thing. After all, there is a scene in which Harriet reads with a flashlight under her covers until late in the night.
What I love about Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet The Spy is that it legitimizes the problems of children. Although kids don’t pay bills, the deal with rough times too. There’s Harriet who is bullied. Janie, whose parents don’t understand or support her need to be a chemist. Sport, who essentially parents his father. Not all children lead idyllic lives and I love that this book shows that.
However, I am a bit anxious to try a tomato sandwich as Harriet eats one every other chapter and they sound rather delicious.
A few quotes that resonated:
“This time I may really get it,” she said thoughtfully and went over and flopped on her bed.
‘Yes. They may take it all away.’
‘There have been people before me who have been misunderstood. They could.’ And the way Janie said this, with her smile dropped and her eyes boring into Harriet’s made shivers run up Harriet’s back.’
I like the above quote because it shows how children aren’t stupid. How they realize being different doesn’t always go over well with family.
‘LIFE IS A GREAT MYSTERY. IS EVERYBODY A DIFFERENT PERSON WHEN THEY ARE WITH SOMEBODY ELSE? OLE GOLLY HAS NEVER BEEN THIS WAY. I WONDER IF PEOPLE ACT LIKE THIS WHEN THEY GET MARRIED. HOW COULD SHE GET MARRIED?’
The above is an excerpt from Harriet’s journal, hence the all caps. She makes fabulous observations that I know I wouldn’t make as an adult.
“None of that. Tears won’t bring me back. Remember that. Tears never bring anything back. Life is a struggle and a good spy gets in there and fights. Remember that. No nonsense.”
Beautiful life advice from a book for children.