Harriet the Spy review

Harriet the SpyHarriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

Delacourte Press, 2000. 978-0-385-32783-1

Synopsis: Harriet M. Welsch is a spy who wants to be a writer and to know many things. She writes everything in a notebook, both good and bad about everyone she knows and the people she spies on. Her nurse, Ole Golly, has always been supportive of Harriet’s ambitions and is there for Harriet when she needs to talk. But Ole Golly is now gone and her classmates have found her notebook and read all of her secrets. Now Harriet has to figure out a way to get even or make things right without Ole Golly to help her.

Why I picked it up: I want to be a writer just like Harriet and to know everything.

Why I finished it: There is something ageless about Harriet’s story, even though it was written in 1964. Harriet goes through an entire range of emotions, especially after she figuratively exposed when her classmates find and read her notebook. Even as an older reader, I feel like I can relate to what is going on with Harriet and reminds me what it is like to be a young teen. It is one of a few books that makes me laugh and cry, even after multiple readings. I also loved the portrayal of Harriet’s parents as simultaneously aloof and completely out of control and out of touch with their daughter. It teaches us that our parents drink and sometimes send us to therapy. It teaches us that we aren’t the only ones who want to stay home from school cause we feel ‘sick’. It teaches us the importance of forgiveness, honesty, and the need for good friends. It helps us feel less alone in the world, less awkward about growing up.

Other Related Materials: Harriet the Spy (movie), The Long Secret by Louise Fitzhugh, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg, Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, The Phantom Toolbooth by Norton Juster, Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien, The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl


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