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Harriet Spionage Aller Art

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Harriet ist elf Jahre alt und lebt in Manhattan. Weil sie Schriftstellerin werden möchte, sperrt sie Augen und Ohren auf, wenn sie durch New York läuft. Was sie dort erfährt, schreibt sie in ihr Notizbuch. Die Ergebnisse ihrer Spionage sind witzig und ungeschönt – und deshalb bekommt Harriet Riesenprobleme, als sie ihr Buch verliert und ausgerechnet ihre Freunde es finden Harriet ist elf Jahre alt und lebt in Manhattan. Weil sie Schriftstellerin werden möchte, sperrt sie Augen und Ohren auf, wenn sie durch New York läuft. Was sie dort erfährt, schreibt sie in ihr Notizbuch. Die Ergebnisse ihrer Spionage sind witzig und ungeschönt – und deshalb bekommt Harriet Riesenprobleme, als sie ihr Buch verliert und ausgerechnet ihre Freunde es finden … Mit einer Karte von New York, die die Schauplätze der Geschichte nacherlebbar macht --fischerverlage.de


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Harriet ist elf Jahre alt und lebt in Manhattan. Weil sie Schriftstellerin werden möchte, sperrt sie Augen und Ohren auf, wenn sie durch New York läuft. Was sie dort erfährt, schreibt sie in ihr Notizbuch. Die Ergebnisse ihrer Spionage sind witzig und ungeschönt – und deshalb bekommt Harriet Riesenprobleme, als sie ihr Buch verliert und ausgerechnet ihre Freunde es finden Harriet ist elf Jahre alt und lebt in Manhattan. Weil sie Schriftstellerin werden möchte, sperrt sie Augen und Ohren auf, wenn sie durch New York läuft. Was sie dort erfährt, schreibt sie in ihr Notizbuch. Die Ergebnisse ihrer Spionage sind witzig und ungeschönt – und deshalb bekommt Harriet Riesenprobleme, als sie ihr Buch verliert und ausgerechnet ihre Freunde es finden … Mit einer Karte von New York, die die Schauplätze der Geschichte nacherlebbar macht --fischerverlage.de

30 review for Harriet Spionage Aller Art

  1. 4 out of 5

    AJ Griffin

    The other day my girlfriend said something about her love of tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches, to which I naturally replied "Yeah? Do you like to roll around and pretend you're an onion, too?" And she had no idea what I meant. How do you not know Harriet the Spy? She has to rank competitively with the greatest literary characters of all time- so spunky, so misunderstood, so maligned by her peers toward the end. There was even some kind of high budget film that got made a few years ago. Frankly, it The other day my girlfriend said something about her love of tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches, to which I naturally replied "Yeah? Do you like to roll around and pretend you're an onion, too?" And she had no idea what I meant. How do you not know Harriet the Spy? She has to rank competitively with the greatest literary characters of all time- so spunky, so misunderstood, so maligned by her peers toward the end. There was even some kind of high budget film that got made a few years ago. Frankly, it makes me sad to imagine a life without Harriet the Spy. "ratfink!"

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jillian

    Schadenfreude. That's what this book is about and it's all Harriet thinks about--the misfortune of others and how she can find joy in it. While that can have its place (like in The Hunger Games), it is just disturbing where this book is concerned. This is one of those rare times where, twenty years later, I reread a book from childhood that I adored, and my opinion of it completely changes as an adult. I kept my original copy from childhood, but now I'm not sure I will keep it still because I can Schadenfreude. That's what this book is about and it's all Harriet thinks about--the misfortune of others and how she can find joy in it. While that can have its place (like in The Hunger Games), it is just disturbing where this book is concerned. This is one of those rare times where, twenty years later, I reread a book from childhood that I adored, and my opinion of it completely changes as an adult. I kept my original copy from childhood, but now I'm not sure I will keep it still because I can't imagine ever reading this again. It was painful. I did not enjoy it. It was not charming. I thought it was funny for maybe the first couple chapters, but it quickly becomes caustic. Harriet wants to be a writer! Fair enough. But there are two very disturbing revelations associated with this: 1) Harriet somehow gets the idea that the best way to practice being a writer is not to, like, practice writing short stories and use her imagination. Instead, she takes "write what you know" to a whole new level, keeping a notebook where she spies on everyone in the neighborhood and then documents every cruel thought she has ever had about them, including her best friends, then somehow justifies this as a way to learn to write better and more descriptively. 2) Harriest does not want to be a writer to improve the world, become famous, or inspire people. Allow me, as I quote: "WHEN I GROW UP I'M GOING TO FIND OUT EVERYTHING ABOUT EVERYBODY AND PUT IT ALL IN A BOOK. THE BOOK IS GOING TO BE CALLED SECRETS BY HARRIET M. WELSCH. I WILL ALSO HAVE PHOTOGRAPHS IN IT AND MAYBE SOME MEDICAL CHARTS IF I CAN GET THEM." I just... WHAT?? Still, I kept giving the book the benefit of the doubt. For one thing, it is intriguing because we all think things about other people (although I quickly grew tired of that). Most importantly, though, there was still a chance that Harriet might learn some good lessons from all this!! Nope. Harriet's parents are so pleased that Ole Golly can "handle" Harriet so well, but they seem blind to the fact that none of them (the parents or Ole Golly) seemed to have instilled any values, a sense of privacy and boundaries/parameters, or common decency in Harriet. Harriet is petultant, selfish, disrespectful, shallow, beyond nosy, self-involved, and just plain mean. She has no redeeming qualities. None. She has no social skills, cannot relate to her peers, is stunted psychologically, has a truly alarming lack of empathy for other people, and spends her days involving herself in everyone else's business--and truly and wholeheartedly thinks it's her business to know these things about others, whereas how DARE they think to look in her SOOPER SEKRIT notebook!! Harriet is eleven, but she talks and spends her days like a middle-aged sociopath relishing the choice of his next victim. I kept waiting for her to learn a lesson, to gain some insight, to understand how her actions hurt other people, to understand what she was doing was not just wrong but also sick--nothing. She doesn't learn anything, not even when she goes to a psychologist, not even when she gets caught breaking and entering, not even when all her friends find her notebook and shut her out, not even when the adults closest to her realize what she's been doing, not even when the teachers see what this does to her classmates. I am really not sure what Fitzhugh was trying to accomplish with this book. Harriet learned no lessons. Her friends magically forgive her after her superficial apology (which involved more spying and telling secrets!) in the school newspaper, whereas, were I her "friend," I would never be able to trust her again. She doesn't get into any actual trouble for what she does. If I had children, I'm not even sure I would allow them to read this.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Zoë

    Book 33/100 of 2015 4.5/5

  4. 4 out of 5

    Darth J

    Okay, who’s ready for another dose of nostalgia? I remember picking up this book before a summer vacation. The trailer had premiered earlier and I was dying to know what happened before I saw the movie (All the readers who truly feel me, throw your hands up at me). My plan was to read a chapter a day, but I was also reading Ralph S. Mouse at the same time (nostalgia kicking in yet?). Anyway, somehow my older brother got ahold of it and finished it before me while I was reading the other book dur Okay, who’s ready for another dose of nostalgia? I remember picking up this book before a summer vacation. The trailer had premiered earlier and I was dying to know what happened before I saw the movie (All the readers who truly feel me, throw your hands up at me). My plan was to read a chapter a day, but I was also reading Ralph S. Mouse at the same time (nostalgia kicking in yet?). Anyway, somehow my older brother got ahold of it and finished it before me while I was reading the other book during this vacation. And he spoiled it. Yeah guys, he was mad because he got scammed because he bought a bootleg version of Dangerous Minds off the street (we were visiting family in New York at the time) so he took his frustration out that way as typical older brothers in the 90’s did for some reason. If you don’t understand this, I’m sure Clarissa would be more than happy to explain everything about sibling dynamics to you… Moving forward, I didn’t finish the book at the time because I was mad that it was spoiled for me (no worries, I did pick it up again a while later). But I did see the movie and it was spectacular. I was obsessed with Harriet’s use of everyday things and how she turned them into spy gadgets. I wanted a belt like hers, and I think Wild Planet capitalized on it with their own line of spy toys. I even remember prizes at our elementary school fundraiser being these collapsible binoculars and sunglasses with mirrors on the side of them so you could see behind you. These cheapo toys made all of us kids feel like real secret agents on the playground. Then the movie came out on VHS and the clamshell packaging was orange! You guys, that was crazy at the time. Even the tape was orange instead of the pedestrian black, and that was so wild. And it came with invisible ink pens. A big component of the story was that Harriet was told by her nanny Golly that if she wanted to be a writer that she needed to practice writing everyday, and to start using her powers of inspection to really see people. To look beneath the obviousness of their actions and see the underlying causes. And Harriet gets in trouble for her acerbic and cutting observations when her (private) journal is stolen and all the kids in her class find out what she really sees when she looks at them. She becomes a pariah for this, and even her closest friends give in to the pressure of alienating her because they felt betrayed by her (again: PRIVATE) thoughts. Feeling isolated and that her personal property was violated, she lashes out at everyone, using her newfound detective paradigm to see everyone’s weaknesses. (view spoiler)[ This was kind of mind-blowing as a kid. That you could shut people down with just a few simple comments; today we call that “slaying”. (hide spoiler)] And girl gets her revenge, no lie. But that’s part of the lesson here: you can really damage people when you know where they hurt, because the truth really can cut deep. Eventually, it’s up to Harriet to see that she went too far; that she allowed everyone turning on her because of her (PRIVATE!!!!) thoughts to have power over her and that she fed into the animosity to just make things worse; and put a stop to this. At last she rises above things, owns up to her part , and apologizes which brings her friends around once again, but this time with a healthy respect about not messing with a clever girl.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Hayes

    I loved this book as a kid. I may just have to read it again!! And read it again I did! I grew up in Harriet's neighborhood (almost) and the descriptions of the New York of my childhood almost broke my heart. Harriet is a cranky adolescent, living in a cushy New York world that was already changing when I was young and going to "The Gregory School", which was really The Chapin School, located on East End Avenue, across the street from Carl Schurz Park. The typical "brownstones" (single family, 3 a I loved this book as a kid. I may just have to read it again!! And read it again I did! I grew up in Harriet's neighborhood (almost) and the descriptions of the New York of my childhood almost broke my heart. Harriet is a cranky adolescent, living in a cushy New York world that was already changing when I was young and going to "The Gregory School", which was really The Chapin School, located on East End Avenue, across the street from Carl Schurz Park. The typical "brownstones" (single family, 3 and 4-storey houses) have mostly disappeared on the East Side of New York. They were replaced by enormous glass apartment towers, and modern readers of Harriet the Spy will find it difficult to understand how Harriet was able to roam around and peer into windows and skylights with such ease. At the time the story was written, the mid 1960s, much of the area had already been razed leaving rows of brownstones running down one side of the city blocks, and open lots behind, exposing private gardens and leaving fire escapes accessible to a young spy. Most of the brownstones that remain are no longer single-family dwellings, but have been turned into apartments.* Harriet lives with her parents, who almost never appear in the story. Mother is always lunching or playing bridge, and Father is at work; in the evenings they are always at parties. Harriet is left to her own devices, lovingly guided by the world's best nanny, Ole Golly. (I never really liked Mary Poppins.) Harriet's inquiring mind leads her to spy on everyone, and to write her impressions in her notebook. Her impressions are brutally honest, too honest, but Harriet is following the tradition of New York families of that time, women-folk are catty and brutal, even at the age of 12, but not in public. I think Harriet the Spy is/was so successful because it was the antithesis to stories like The Bobbsey Twins (which my mother would not allow in the house). Harriet was a modern girl in the making. She wanted a career, she didn't want to play bridge, and she didn't want to be a member of exclusive social clubs. She was like my mother (except for the bridge playing part; my mother adored bridge and taught me to play at an early age). It's a strange book, and Harriet is a strange girl, not very likable really, but what girl is likable at that age? Harriet at least does not want to change herself just to be likable, nor will she give up on her friends just because they are "Not Our Kind". I'm so glad I re-read this. * I include this clip from the film The World of Henry Orient: A Novel for more "local color". The film came out the same year as Harriet, 1964. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVUPxR... - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - p. 27Harriet’s school was called The Gregory School, having been founded by a Miss Eleanore Gregory around the turn of the century. It was on East End Avenue, a few blocks from Harriet’s house and across the street from Carl Schurz Park.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    I loved this book. Read it first in the fifth grade, then read it at least twice a year after that until it fell out of my book bag in the gym locker room in the seventh grade. Spent the rest of that term known as "Harriet" or "Fuckin' Girly Fag." I guess I preferred "Harriet."

  7. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Markus

    This isn’t a great children’s book. This is a great book whose protagonist happens to be very young. This is a book that manages to be shocking in spite of the absence of sex, drugs, and violence. Harriet isn’t forced to kick arse in a fight to the death, or struggle to feed her family. On the contrary, the only shocking thing about her personal circumstances is how privileged she is. Her family employs a housemaid, a cook, and a “nurse” improbably named Ole Golly. It can be hard for a modern rea This isn’t a great children’s book. This is a great book whose protagonist happens to be very young. This is a book that manages to be shocking in spite of the absence of sex, drugs, and violence. Harriet isn’t forced to kick arse in a fight to the death, or struggle to feed her family. On the contrary, the only shocking thing about her personal circumstances is how privileged she is. Her family employs a housemaid, a cook, and a “nurse” improbably named Ole Golly. It can be hard for a modern reader of any age to understand what exactly that last job entails. Harriet isn’t sick, or sickly, so Ole Golly isn’t that kind of nurse. Ole Golly isn’t a babysitter exactly, either. She does stay with Harriet when her parents go to parties at night, which is frequently; but she doesn’t supervise Harriet very closely, or even walk her to school. She’s a bit like a governess, but she doesn’t teach lessons. Actually, she does. She just isn’t paid to. And although Harriet leads a pampered existence, Ole Golly believes she can handle tough truths. “Tears won’t bring me back,” she says sternly when she has to leave Harriet for good. “Remember that. Tears never bring anything back. Life is a struggle and a good spy gets in there and fights. Remember that. No nonsense.” And, later, in a letter: If you’re missing me I want you to know I’m not missing you. Gone is gone. I never miss anything or anyone because it all becomes a lovely memory. I guard my memories and love them, but I don’t get in them and lie down. You can even make stories from yours, but remember, they don’t come back. Just think how awful it would be if they did. You don’t need me now. You’re eleven years old which is old enough to get busy at growing up to be the person you want to be. Don’t sit around missing me when I’m gone. Life is tough, and eleven years old is plenty old enough to get out there and start fighting for what you need. Tell that to a generation who grew up on the creepy stalker vision of parental care presented in Love You Forever. This may not sound too startling to people who regularly devour dystopian and gritty urban YA fiction. Yes, Katniss has to fight actual life-or-death battles. But the whole point of her story is that she shouldn’t have to. Harriet is taught early on that life is a fight, and even members of the well-fed elite have to jump into the ring. Granted, Harriet’s battles are brought on by her own worst qualities. She has a lot of them. She is not a winning, adorable child. She’s blunt and obnoxious and thinks mean things even about the people she cares about. And she doesn’t care about many. She alienates everyone she knows with her writing. And then she wins them back – with her writing. This book has aged well in every sense. It’s fun for an adult to read or reread because the writing is ridiculously, enviably good. It’s a book to give to children for the same reason. It’s also a terrific cautionary tale for very modern reasons. As Meg Cabot, author of the Princess Diaries series, points out in her short appreciative essay: Louise Fitzhugh could not have known how prescient Harriet the Spy was. Fifty years after its publication, some young girls and boys (and even old ones too) are still recording their innermost thoughts and feelings, only now they’re doing it far too publicly on the Internet, causing themselves untold amounts of trouble. If only they listened to Ole Golly. Cabot’s essay is included along with several others, all by prominent writers. Gregory Maguire’s even includes an excerpt from an early diary he kept after being inspired by Harriet’s example: Tonight when we were going to swim, Annie said, “Aaahh! There’s a spider in my goggles.” Joe said, “Drown it! Throw it in the lake!” Annie said, “No, don’t drown it.” I said, “Annie, since when have you cared about the welfare of a measly spider?” She said, “It’s not that. I just don’t want any drowned spiders in any lake that I intend to swim in.” Read this book if you haven’t already. Reread it if it’s been awhile. And get this anniversary edition if you don’t already have your own copy of Harriet. It’s a lot of fun to see how other authors were affected by the abrasive but compelling Harriet M. Welsch.

  8. 5 out of 5

    First Second Books

    I re-read Harriet the Spy last week and found myself noticing for the first time how deeply subversive and honest it is. Even by contemporary standards it's a bracing read -- hard to imagine what reading this book must have been like when it was first published in 1964. Something that moved me this time around was how defiantly Harriet and Janie resist the half-hearted efforts of their parents to make them behave with more conventional femininity, and how quickly their parents give up that schem I re-read Harriet the Spy last week and found myself noticing for the first time how deeply subversive and honest it is. Even by contemporary standards it's a bracing read -- hard to imagine what reading this book must have been like when it was first published in 1964. Something that moved me this time around was how defiantly Harriet and Janie resist the half-hearted efforts of their parents to make them behave with more conventional femininity, and how quickly their parents give up that scheme (as represented by the specter of DANCE SCHOOL). As little as their parents understand Harriet and Janie, they also seem to have no real interest in changing or controlling them.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lm

    I genuinely don't like giving a book a bad review, but if it weren't that I have an obsessive need to finish a book once I start it, I would have put this one down the first time Harriet started screaming like a toddler. A large part of the reason I was so put-off by this book, is that I had set my expectations that I was reading a beloved and light-hearted childhood book about a girl who learns some life lessons after she is caught spying on some friends and neighbors. These expectations were wa I genuinely don't like giving a book a bad review, but if it weren't that I have an obsessive need to finish a book once I start it, I would have put this one down the first time Harriet started screaming like a toddler. A large part of the reason I was so put-off by this book, is that I had set my expectations that I was reading a beloved and light-hearted childhood book about a girl who learns some life lessons after she is caught spying on some friends and neighbors. These expectations were way off. For one, I never read this book as a child. I had it on my childhood bookshelf, and I think I had read enough of the first few pages to have learned how to play "Town" when I was 7 or 8, but I never read this entire book like I thought I had. After the first few pages, everything was unfamiliar, so I really had no nostalgic feelings to help me appreciate the book as an adult. Secondly, this book is not light-hearted; it's more like social commentary on the lonely lives of priveleged NYC children. I find this book depressing on so many levels. Harriet is so completely neglected by her parents and misunderstood by her friends and peers, and she shows her classmates very little understanding either. Finally, Harriet doesn't appear to grow at all through this very tedious story (through very little fault of her own, as the adults she looks up to are such poor role models) and I NEED my characters to grow. Even after all she endures when her notebook is confiscated, she still continues to make superficial and mean-spirited notes largely about the people she spies upon being fat or ugly. Come on, Harriet, learn something! Even Ole Golly disappointed me, with her culminating letter to Harriet that came with the brilliant life lesson that 'sometimes it is just best to lie,' with nothing further to help Harriet grasp the concepts of empathy or tact. My heart breaks for Harriet, who has clearly been permanately scarred by her parents' emotional abandonment, but at the same time, I just completely disliked her and her tantrums and cruel observations. Perhaps I'm being a bit hard on an eleven-year-old protagonist, but then I look at other admirable literary child characters, like Tree-ear in A Single Shard or Annemarie in Number the Stars and I just don't think a little growth is too much to expect at Harriet's age. I have a hard time believing that today's middle school children would find her very easy to relate to either, and I like my 'classics' to be timeless. Sorry, I wish I could be, but I'm just not a fan! *** Harriet as an onion was pretty priceless though. If only the entire book had been more like that scene...

  10. 5 out of 5

    El

    Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to a very important person to me: Harriet M. Welsch, aka Harriet the Spy. She has been there for me on more than one occasion when I've needed her and she has not let me down. I don't anticipate she ever will. I read this book at least once every year or two, or at least generally when things in life are rather poopy. I consider this the macaroni and cheese of the literary world, my mashed potatoes, my pudding. I just had my thyroid surgically r Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to a very important person to me: Harriet M. Welsch, aka Harriet the Spy. She has been there for me on more than one occasion when I've needed her and she has not let me down. I don't anticipate she ever will. I read this book at least once every year or two, or at least generally when things in life are rather poopy. I consider this the macaroni and cheese of the literary world, my mashed potatoes, my pudding. I just had my thyroid surgically removed on Thursday and while I've been out of the house periodically and done some things since anesthesia has worn off, mostly the best thing for me right now is to stay on the couch and watch shitty TV and read. I turned to reading this now because it reminds me of happy childhood memories, and how much Harriet has meant to me, and how much I relate to her, and how that relationship has changed (or not) over the years. Sitting on the couch under big blankets, sipping ginger ale through a straw and eating animal crackers (or putting animal crackers in my mouth until they dissolve enough so I can swallow them with relatively little discomfort), thinking maybe I should be eating ice cream instead, but deciding it's best not to move at all, and otherwise feeling very sorry for myself because, well, I fucking can... and this little piece of my childhood is there like a friendly stuffed animal. This book is simultaneously a lesson plan and a holy text for me. When I'm having a hard time, I turn to Harriet. She's the I Ching. (Or, if she's not, then Ole Golly is.) I've learned a lot from these characters, and I've applied these things to my own life over the years. I even learn from Harriet and how I can apply certain attitudes to my life now. I'm not sure if there's another book that has that kind of hold on me. Like Harriet, I've always written in notebooks. The notebooks have changed over the years, in the frequency in which I write in them, in what I write in them, and sometimes they get artsy, and sometimes they're not. They're always evolving. I would like to think that Harriet's notebooks would evolve if we were able to see her grow into adulthood. Like Harriet, sometimes writing in notebooks has gotten me in trouble. I've always been extremely territorial about my writing, even when I was working on my degree in Creative Writing. If I wanted to share something, I would, but otherwise I wouldn't, and yes, that would also go to the writing I did for class, and yes, my grades reflected that. I like to think Harriet would get it, if no one else could. Like Harriet, I've had trouble with friends in the past. My troubles in the beginning were slightly different - making the wrong choices in friends, or having exceptionally dramatic friends, or lying, cheating, thieving kinds of friends. Or wanting to be friends with people who didn't give a crap about me, the ones who made my junior high years a living hell. Incidentally, I believe it was during the junior high years that I didn't have a copy of Harriet the Spy to read at any given moment. I think that shows something. I needed her wisdom and she wasn't there. (And I was too cool to think I needed her at that stage anyway.) When I came around, I never turned back. Harriet lived as an only child in the Upper East Side in Manhattan in the 1960s. I read Harriet the Spy for the first time as the youngest of three children in Davenport, Iowa in the 1980s. There were things about her story that I couldn't understand or relate to, like why anyone would need a cook and a nanny, and what the hell is an egg cream anyway? She went to a private school. I didn't even know anyone in a private school in Davenport, Iowa. But her story is timeless - she's just a kid who wants to figure herself out and sometimes she has to be an onion. We've all had days like that. There's nothing I can say that can adequately explain my love for Harriet, and I especially can't do it right now where I'm all crummy inside and missing a thyroid. This is a review in progress. It will never be the way I want it to be. But right now, feeling the way I do, this was another perfect time to spend with Harriet and her tomato sandwiches, to remind me that some days really do suck a big one and that it's okay to be myself and that it's not okay for anyone to take my notebooks away. It's also a reminder that sometimes it's okay to feel mean. We were raised to be a not mean family, and while I appreciate that effort our parents made, the reality is that people are mean and that it never hurts to be able to protect oneself. Sometimes it's okay to just wake up feeling mean and it's okay to hate the stupid birds singing outside the window. Sometimes it's okay to hate our friends and it's okay to hate our lives. Just like sometimes it's okay to have to be an onion when we would rather not have to be an onion, and it's okay to have to grow up and be able to handle things on our own, and it's okay to say goodbye to Ole Golly (though due to my lowered immune system and the after effects of anesthesia, I cried like a bitch during that part). This book is full of reminders for me. But mostly it just reminds me of who I am.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Daisy

    Life-changing. I am not kidding. She was my heroine. "Lovely, lovely. Now let's see, vegetables first, vegetables..." Sport started to sprint for the door. Miss Elson pulled him back by the ear. Pinky Whitehead arrived back. Miss Berry turned to him, enchanted. "You will make a wonderful stalk of celery." "What?" said Pinky stupidly. "And you"--she pointed at Harriet--"are an ONION." This was too much. "I refuse. I absolutely REFUSE to be an onion." "Sometimes you have to lie. But to yourself you mus Life-changing. I am not kidding. She was my heroine. "Lovely, lovely. Now let's see, vegetables first, vegetables..." Sport started to sprint for the door. Miss Elson pulled him back by the ear. Pinky Whitehead arrived back. Miss Berry turned to him, enchanted. "You will make a wonderful stalk of celery." "What?" said Pinky stupidly. "And you"--she pointed at Harriet--"are an ONION." This was too much. "I refuse. I absolutely REFUSE to be an onion." "Sometimes you have to lie. But to yourself you must always tell the truth." -- Ole Golly And those illustrations!

  12. 5 out of 5

    D.M. Dutcher

    It's surprising how mean-spirited this book is. Eleven year old Harriet wants to be a spy. She writes down all of her thoughts about everyone in a notebook she always keeps on her. She also goes around town spying on as many people as she can, learning things and always, always writing down what she thinks. This backfires tremendously when her schoolmates find her lost notebook, and read every single honest and often nasty thing she wrote about them. And just as her favorite nurse, and the only on It's surprising how mean-spirited this book is. Eleven year old Harriet wants to be a spy. She writes down all of her thoughts about everyone in a notebook she always keeps on her. She also goes around town spying on as many people as she can, learning things and always, always writing down what she thinks. This backfires tremendously when her schoolmates find her lost notebook, and read every single honest and often nasty thing she wrote about them. And just as her favorite nurse, and the only one who really deals with her on any emotional level, leaves her. Can she deal with the payback? It's a typical kid's book set-up, but it's distinguished by one of the most unlikable protagonists next to Sheila in Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great. Harriet's observations aren't just ill-mannered or rude, they hurt. This is because they are deadly accurate, and virtually everyone she knows has some kind of deep-seated issue that she spied out. She finds the weaknesses of all of her classmates and even the adults around her with the trained eye of a writer. As a spy, she's a great one; but as a human being she's terrible. To a point, this is more the thoughtless cruelty of a child than the considered cruelty of an adult. But then, when she's discovered, she isn't really repentant. She's mean and she's hurt, but she learns nothing. She gets bullied, and bullies back. The worst thing about it is that rather than learn empathy or the right lesson, the book ends with her having learned nothing and the horrible lesson that it's better to lie to people if you can't apologize to them and mean it. I can't blame Harriet fully though. Virtually every adult in this book is unlikable to a degree. Sport's dad is a worthless layabout. Harriet's parents don't really seem to be a part of her life, with Ole Golly as a surrogate mother/friend to her. Ole Golly is a good nurse, but a bad person; she manages Harriet, but really doesn't confide in her. Or even care that much. Most of the adult portrayals save for the man with twenty-seven cats are negative in some manner. Harriet is a child who is outside the world as an observer. No one ever seems to truly bring her inside some place, and I think this is what created the thoughtless, hurting, and even mean child that she is. It makes for an unsettling book for those of us who read it late in life. Like a children's version of those interminable adult literary novels where everyone hates each other and you get depressed after reading it. You dislike Harriet's thoughts, because any empathy in them towards others is dangerously absent. But you also dislike the payback she gets, because she's obviously in pain and it also makes her even nastier to have the sole things in the world that she draws pleasure from (earlier, Ole Golly, later, her notebook) taken away from her. And you dislike the lack of lesson at the end, because Harriet needs to change and become human. She needs to grow if just to save herself.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kressel Housman

    When I was in fourth grade, I would have named Harriet the Spy as my very favorite book, even though I only read the first half of it. I re-read that first half so many times though, it was practically an obsession. First of all, Harriet's commentary in her notebook in hilariously funny. But more than that, I wanted to be a writer just like Harriet, so I was going to do things her way. I even went so far as to look in one of my neighbor's windows for material, but I got caught on the first try. When I was in fourth grade, I would have named Harriet the Spy as my very favorite book, even though I only read the first half of it. I re-read that first half so many times though, it was practically an obsession. First of all, Harriet's commentary in her notebook in hilariously funny. But more than that, I wanted to be a writer just like Harriet, so I was going to do things her way. I even went so far as to look in one of my neighbor's windows for material, but I got caught on the first try. As a kid, I could not get through the part when her notebook was found and she became the class outcast. I so over-identified with Harriet that it was too much for me. I finally finished the book in my 20's, and it was worth it just for the writing lesson, "It was hard to make up the part when he found the cat." That's the fiction writing process summed up right there. Copying from real life is easy; adding a storyline is the challenge. I'd recommend this book to kids who have an interest in writing, but only with parental guidance. Kids should be warned against peeking into their neighbor's houses even if they ought to know better, and some kids might need to discuss the ostracism section with an adult. It's every kid's worst nightmare. Having said that, it's one of the best books I've ever read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Louise Fitzhugh was one of those rare children's book authors who actually understood what it meant to be a child, what the world seen through those eyes actually looks like. Harriet M. Welsh is right up there with Scout Finch and Francie Nolan as one of the all time great child heroines in literature. She is whip smart, casually cruel, constantly shouting weird nonsense, frustrating, brilliant and always, always surprising. She's a self styled "spy" who basically stalks her neighbors, family an Louise Fitzhugh was one of those rare children's book authors who actually understood what it meant to be a child, what the world seen through those eyes actually looks like. Harriet M. Welsh is right up there with Scout Finch and Francie Nolan as one of the all time great child heroines in literature. She is whip smart, casually cruel, constantly shouting weird nonsense, frustrating, brilliant and always, always surprising. She's a self styled "spy" who basically stalks her neighbors, family and friends and writes down all her observations in an ever increasing collection of notebooks in preparation for her life as a writer who "knows EVERYTHING." She's unsparing in her observations even of her closest friends. But when her classmates find her notebook and read the things she has to say about them Harriet finds herself the target of wrathful retribution. Suddenly she is one constantly being watched. Will she have to give up spying for good? This is one of my favorite books to revisit. There's something equal parts charming and terrible about Harriet's world. Its one of privilege where she's raised by her beloved nanny Ol' Golly (possibly the weirdest and greatest nanny in children's lit ever written. Take that Mary Poppins.) in a townhouse in NYC that includes a cook and maids. She attends an elite private school and her interactions with her parents always seem to happen at a distance, they're always on their way to a party or too distracted to really hear Harriet when she talks to them. There's a sadness to her life that makes her spying understandable. Its like the only way she knows how to be close to people is by staying at a distance and watching. Harriet's imperfections are also what makes her stand out. She's seriously fucking obnoxious a lot of the time, which is clearly intentional. She's loud, super rude, and soooo judgmental. Weirdly rather than make her impossible to like all this makes her even more lovable. This is what I was like as a child! Kids have no filters, no guile, and very little sense of responsibility. This book is ABOUT a child beginning to understand that actions have consequences, that poorly chosen words hurt people and as Ol' Golly puts it at one point "sometimes you have to lie." I remember things about this book, it stays with me in ways other books haven't. Harriet's hilarious rehearsal for the school play where she plays an onion and has to work out how an onion "feels" resulting in a hilarious interpretative dance around her parents bedroom. Harriet hiding in a dumbwaiter while she spies on a woman who's decided never to leave her bed again. Harriet yelling for a tomato sandwich and barreling into the cook after school demanding cake and milk. I remember the wonderful pictures too. Fitzhugh is also responsible for the pen and ink drawings of Harriet and her friends. The spindly and sternly beautiful Ol' Golly, Harriet lying in the bathtub covered in ink after an incident at school, Harriet as an onion rolling on the floor, Harriet with her spy tool belt ready to go on her "route." Every one of them is marvelous. Fitzhugh captures childhood with this book and its companion The Long Secret and Sport with all its contradictions and imagination and innocence and rage. She captures it perfectly.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Melissa McShane

    I used to really, really love this book. Louise Fitzhugh has a fantastic style, and Harriet's voice comes through clearly. Harriet, whose ambition is to be a writer and a spy (her commitment to each varies throughout the book) writes in her notebook constantly. Mostly she's keeping notes on the people around her, both her classmates in her sixth-grade class and the people she spies on. The latter are fascinating and so well portrayed, with all their quirks and oddities. But Harriet doesn't pull I used to really, really love this book. Louise Fitzhugh has a fantastic style, and Harriet's voice comes through clearly. Harriet, whose ambition is to be a writer and a spy (her commitment to each varies throughout the book) writes in her notebook constantly. Mostly she's keeping notes on the people around her, both her classmates in her sixth-grade class and the people she spies on. The latter are fascinating and so well portrayed, with all their quirks and oddities. But Harriet doesn't pull any punches, and when (as is inevitable) the truth about her writing comes out, she pays a heavy price and learns some valuable lessons about what a writer actually does. Or should. Harriet is extremely perceptive, and her skewering of her classmates is accurate, which is probably why it pisses them off so badly. And this isn't a didactic novel, fortunately, because I think it would dilute Harriet's gift if the story were turned into some afterschool special about the meaning of friendship. But the one thing Harriet never realizes is that being perceptive, seeing to the heart of things, doesn't have to mean being cruel. It doesn't have to mean seeing only the bad. Harriet comes close to realizing this when she witnesses one of the people on her spy route, Little Joe, surrounded by heaps of food he seems to be devouring--and then he gives half of it away to some starving urchins. Harriet sees, but she doesn't understand. The ending is particularly odd: (view spoiler)[Harriet's given the job of editing the sixth grade contribution to the school paper and uses it as an outlet for her writing ability. But she continues to skewer people, this time adults who are in a position to object to her airing their secrets before the whole school. I think, since the book ends with Harriet apologizing and her friends Janie and Sport forgiving her, it's meant to be a happy ending--but since her apology is a lie, and one her former nurse Ole Golly encouraged her to tell, I'm not sure Harriet has changed at all. Forget about such inanities as learning her lesson; if there's no change, then there's no point. (hide spoiler)] I still really admire how brilliantly characterized this book is, but I have too many reservations about the conclusions I think the reader's meant to draw to truly love it anymore.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Harriet the Spy was one of my very favorites when I was young; I'm happy to cede the World's Biggest Harriet Fan crown to El, but I was pretty amped to run across this at a stoop sale. When I first read it - possibly also when I second read it - I immediately started carrying my own notebook around and writing in it all the time. Everyone did, right? I got in super trouble for that, too, because my fourth grade teacher - I think it was fourth? - confiscated it, and then read it, and then I had t Harriet the Spy was one of my very favorites when I was young; I'm happy to cede the World's Biggest Harriet Fan crown to El, but I was pretty amped to run across this at a stoop sale. When I first read it - possibly also when I second read it - I immediately started carrying my own notebook around and writing in it all the time. Everyone did, right? I got in super trouble for that, too, because my fourth grade teacher - I think it was fourth? - confiscated it, and then read it, and then I had to talk about why I was saying such mean things about all my classmates. And this is why teachers who don't read books are at a disadvantage. It holds up wonderfully, and that's nice. It's still a book with great insight into how kids work, and not a little insight into adults while we're at it. And its central message - other than "Blow up the school," which is definitely suggested, and remember when you could just suggest that, and everyone would be like *shrug* yeah, that does sound like a decent idea, one has to admit. Anyway, the other central message is that writing is a great way to explore one's feelings and exercise one's brain, and that really stuck with me, to the point where nowadays I pretend to write book reviews just so I can ramble about my fourth grade teacher. I don't remember her name but she was not great. You know what, I'm pretty sure I came out better than she did. I wonder if she's dead. She might be. Harriet's a somewhat tough kid: weird and terrifyingly bright and given to breaking and entering. (And perhaps gay.) I was of course not a weird kid, I was perfect, but if I had been weird, this book would have given me a lot of great ideas for how to handle my weirdness, and it would have done the same for my mom, and I would say this is a pretty good book to read no matter what level of weirdness you and yours are at.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Sammis

    Since naming my youngest Harriet, I've had a number of people ask me or just outright assume that I named her for the title character from Louise Fitzhugh's novel Harriet the Spy (1964). She isn't named for the book but she did prompt me to read the book. Many of the books reviews I've read for Harriet the Spy credit it for being ground breaking its brutally honest portrayal of childhood. Maybe it's the first (or among the first) to depict children in then contemporary society. The book though w Since naming my youngest Harriet, I've had a number of people ask me or just outright assume that I named her for the title character from Louise Fitzhugh's novel Harriet the Spy (1964). She isn't named for the book but she did prompt me to read the book. Many of the books reviews I've read for Harriet the Spy credit it for being ground breaking its brutally honest portrayal of childhood. Maybe it's the first (or among the first) to depict children in then contemporary society. The book though was noteworthy enough to win the Sequoyah Book Award. I wish I could say I liked the book, but frankly, I didn't. Harriet is an unlikable and unreliable protagonist. She is left in the care of everyone except her ever absent parents who only actively take part in her life when everyone else has given up. She is first in the care of a governess, Catherine, though always called by Harriet's nickname, Ole Golly. She is later left in the hands of the less than sympathetic cook. Her parents are only ever there to be off to parties or to be overheard arguing. Harriet meanwhile is given free reign to spy on her friends and neighbors. She's filled up 14 note books since her 8th birthday (she's 11 in the book). When she's finally caught spying her compulsive need to write in her note books becomes rather scary to read. Before her parents even try to talk to her, she's sent to therapy. Harriet's tragic year seems to be more a scathing look at the wealthy rather than childhood in general. Maybe that's what makes Harriet so unusual. Most YA books seem to children from blue collar families.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Is it wrong to do a boozy review of a children's book? Well, this review is not for children, and as it turns out, the book is a delightful read for adults as well as kids. I hadn't read it in a few decades, but somebody just mentioned it to me and I picked it up again. Let me tell you: Reading Harriet the Spy as an adult is like watching Rocky and Bullwinkle as an adult. You realize that 90 percent of it got right past you when you were a kid. This book is smart, funny, sarcastic, dark, weird, a Is it wrong to do a boozy review of a children's book? Well, this review is not for children, and as it turns out, the book is a delightful read for adults as well as kids. I hadn't read it in a few decades, but somebody just mentioned it to me and I picked it up again. Let me tell you: Reading Harriet the Spy as an adult is like watching Rocky and Bullwinkle as an adult. You realize that 90 percent of it got right past you when you were a kid. This book is smart, funny, sarcastic, dark, weird, and so very brave. Also, it's set in a New York of the not-so-distant past that I am so fascinated with. As a kid, I missed just about all of that--or I forgot it. I'm so glad I read it again. I am now forcing it on every kid I know. But enough about the kids. As an adult reading Harriet the Spy, what shall we have to drink? I'm going to recommend something fun, lighthearted, easy, and yet surprisingly satisfying, with the most tenuous connection to spies. I speak, my friends, of the Moscow Mule. (Moscow makes you think of spies, doesn't it? Sort of?) It's the easiest drink in the world to make. Just fill a glass with ice, squeeze a good-sized wedge of lime into the glass, and either drop that lime in the glass or garnish with another, better-looking slice of lime if you wish. Now add 1.5 ounces of vodka. Don't get cheap, rotgut vodka, but don't pay a fortune for a fancy bottle and an expensive ad campaign, either. I like Tito's from Austin quite a bit. Now top it off with a good (non-alcoholic) ginger beer like Reed's. Not ginger ale. Give it a good, vigorous stir to get the vodka moving. That's it! That's the whole drink. It's bubbly, it's refreshing, it goes down easy. Put a bendy straw in it. Drink it in a hammock while you read Harriet in paperback and laugh out loud.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Robyn Groth

    I like Harriet. Harriet is a spy, but not because she's a creeper. She's intelligent and curious. She's a writer. And in order to be a good writer she needs to learn more about life than she'll learn from her privileged home life or her fairly normal school life. So she spies, and she writes down what she sees and thinks, intentionally working on her descriptive writing skills. She writes about her friends, schoolmates and family, and she writes about the people on her "spy route." She learns abou I like Harriet. Harriet is a spy, but not because she's a creeper. She's intelligent and curious. She's a writer. And in order to be a good writer she needs to learn more about life than she'll learn from her privileged home life or her fairly normal school life. So she spies, and she writes down what she sees and thinks, intentionally working on her descriptive writing skills. She writes about her friends, schoolmates and family, and she writes about the people on her "spy route." She learns about people with different socioeconomic statuses and with different values. She learns about materialism and altruism, pride and hard work. She learns about sympathy and staying true to oneself - two things that will help her later in the book. She learns that writers have to be honest when they learn and take notes, and she later learns that nobody likes to hear the truth about himself. Because we brazenly read Harriet's private notebook, we read all of her not-so-nice thoughts about people. And because we read about Harriet at a time when she's suffering from more crises than she can handle at once, we see Harriet cruelly lash out at her antagonizers. But these normal human flaws don't make me dislike Harriet. I love her for her honesty. I empathize with her frustration and her inability to keep her cool. And I respect her for her independence and determination.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jenn

    I started reading early and started reading beyond my age level very quickly, so I was pretty much beyond children's books way before I was done being a child. Sometimes it seems like I went directly from Dr. Seuss to Grimm's Fairy Tales and then on to adult books. But this was one children's book that truly changed my life. The book is about a little girl who fancies herself a spy, and keeps a "secret notebook" full of observations about her family, classmates and neighbors. I imagine that most I started reading early and started reading beyond my age level very quickly, so I was pretty much beyond children's books way before I was done being a child. Sometimes it seems like I went directly from Dr. Seuss to Grimm's Fairy Tales and then on to adult books. But this was one children's book that truly changed my life. The book is about a little girl who fancies herself a spy, and keeps a "secret notebook" full of observations about her family, classmates and neighbors. I imagine that most little girls who read this book started their own secret notebooks. I certainly did, and never stopped, though mine came to be called a "journal" and later, a "blog." Plain and simple, this is the book that started me writing, and I never stopped. Harriet the Spy was truly a Book That Changed My Life. It's a great gift for a young girl or boy, plus the illustrations are great.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mandy McHenry

    HATED THIS BOOK! Seriously, what is the big deal about it? I never read it as a kid, but it was on a list of "Books about Brave Girls" and I thought that we'd give it a go for a read aloud with my girls. WORST BOOK EVER! I HATED Harriet! She was so nosy, so rude, and I kept waiting and waiting for her to learn her lesson, and SHE NEVER DID! In fact, in the end she comes right out and says that she should just LIE! EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE of what I am trying to teach my girls! We had a good discussi HATED THIS BOOK! Seriously, what is the big deal about it? I never read it as a kid, but it was on a list of "Books about Brave Girls" and I thought that we'd give it a go for a read aloud with my girls. WORST BOOK EVER! I HATED Harriet! She was so nosy, so rude, and I kept waiting and waiting for her to learn her lesson, and SHE NEVER DID! In fact, in the end she comes right out and says that she should just LIE! EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE of what I am trying to teach my girls! We had a good discussion at the end of how we should NOT act like Harriet, and how disappointed we were in this book. Lame, lame, lame!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ivana Nešić

    Ovo je kao da čitam oridžin stori nekog superzlikovca. Harijeti stvari bivaju uskraćene, svi joj okreću leđa i ona postaje super-zla i to je to. OK nije to to, ali ne znam tačno šta je. Ovo je roman iz sasvim drugog vremena koji se javlja iz potrebe da kaže čitaociima da su posluga ljudska bića i da su i ljudi manje srećni i pametni od nas ljudska bića. I zbog svih stvari koje je (svojom krivicom ili ne) Harijeta izgubila, ona se oseća baš loše, baš je teško za čitanje koliko se ona loše oseća, us Ovo je kao da čitam oridžin stori nekog superzlikovca. Harijeti stvari bivaju uskraćene, svi joj okreću leđa i ona postaje super-zla i to je to. OK nije to to, ali ne znam tačno šta je. Ovo je roman iz sasvim drugog vremena koji se javlja iz potrebe da kaže čitaociima da su posluga ljudska bića i da su i ljudi manje srećni i pametni od nas ljudska bića. I zbog svih stvari koje je (svojom krivicom ili ne) Harijeta izgubila, ona se oseća baš loše, baš je teško za čitanje koliko se ona loše oseća, usamljenost i izgubljenost cure sa stranica. Dakle, knjiga je zaista mudra i lepo pisana i nudi puno uvida, ali da je smešna kao što korice tvrde - baš nije.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Darling

    I cannot believe in all these years of reading this book, I completely overlooked the queer subtext. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? The things I learn from our classics readalongs! Also, one of our blog friends mentioned it's possible Harriet may be on the autism spectrum. One of those cases where discussing a book makes you look at something you love in a whole new light. Our whole discussion is here: http://www.themidnightgarden.net/2014... Read the comments, too--our readers/friends are so smart!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sherwood Smith

    Tremendously influential when I was an angry, isolated early teen Mental note: update review.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Belinda

    Wow. Just wow. I want to make this review as excellent as possible but I honestly don't know that I have the skills to describe the perfection of this book. Somehow, growing up in the 70's and 80's and being a huge reader, I still missed this amazing book. I honestly feel like it would have given me more confidence if I had read it--it's that important. Harriet is an 11 year old girl living in New York City. She is not your typical kid--she writes obsessively in her journal (notebook) and is inc Wow. Just wow. I want to make this review as excellent as possible but I honestly don't know that I have the skills to describe the perfection of this book. Somehow, growing up in the 70's and 80's and being a huge reader, I still missed this amazing book. I honestly feel like it would have given me more confidence if I had read it--it's that important. Harriet is an 11 year old girl living in New York City. She is not your typical kid--she writes obsessively in her journal (notebook) and is incredibly observant and smart. Unlike most characters in kid's books of this time period, she is not saccharin and sweet or naughty and waiting to be turned into a little lady. She's real--she has negative and judgmental thoughts --just like a real kid. She's strong and brave but still vulnerable. She is a flawed and magnificent heroine. Her best friends are a mad scientist-like girl who plans to blow up the world and a vulnerable and kind boy who takes care of his distracted writer father, and cooks dinner and cleans house. This is spectacular to me--not only does she have friends of both sexes, but neither of them is a cliche--especially during this time period. She is probably closest to her nurse, Ole Golly--a tough, literature spouting, no nonsense woman. Unlike most caretakers in kids books, she's not condescending or overly tender--but she loves her charge and her charge loves her. She is truly a wonderful and fleshed out character. She understands Harriet and we all need that--especially at Harriet's age. Harriet fancies herself a spy (she actually is a spy and a pretty good one) and spends copious amounts of time spying on various people in her neighborhood. These spying expeditions are funny, sad, and informative. I was literally laughing out loud in many parts. This book is not loaded with cliched lessons that were so pervasive in that time period--actually it's not loaded with cliches in any way. It's so rare to read a kid's book that you cannot predict what is going to happen as an adult--but I was as involved in this book as if I were a child and full of wonder and freshness (what a gift). I would truly recommend this book to every parent--especially if you have a child with literary leanings. It's such a gift to those of us who journal as well--Harriet's journals are so important to her--when she describes how her words and thoughts flow the best with a pen in her hand and her notebook at hand, I was actually very emotional. At 44 years old, I felt moved that someone understood that feeling so well. I plan to purchase a copy of this book as soon as possible--it's a library copy--but I know I will read this again and again. Harriet has become a dear and personal part of my heart. The anniversary edition is especially nice--it has a darling little map of Harriet's spy route and her neighborhood and some really nice write ups by famous children's authors. I also don't want to neglect the beautiful illustrations by Louise Fitzhugh herself--they are beyond fantastic. They are incredibly expressive, beautiful and funny. I just cannot say enough about this book-and a truly lovely thing is that I actually had a hard time getting a hold of this book--not because it was out of print or neglected--but because it was always checked out. Things like that give you hope. A special shout out to my beautiful friend El...it was her deep love of this book that made me want to read it and I will appreciate that forever--she and I both have a lot of Harriet in us and that's a good thing.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    I don't seem to be getting a coherent feeling about this book, so I may just start rambling and see what develops. For starters, did anyone besides me feel that Ole Golly was a terrible influence on the kid? Sure, we want kids to learn that telling the truth matters but there is a higher value: that of kindness. Telling the truth that a child has been abandoned by her Dad isn't kind. Or that a boy is so boring, he is known in her mind as The Boy with Purple Socks. The implication is that Harriet I don't seem to be getting a coherent feeling about this book, so I may just start rambling and see what develops. For starters, did anyone besides me feel that Ole Golly was a terrible influence on the kid? Sure, we want kids to learn that telling the truth matters but there is a higher value: that of kindness. Telling the truth that a child has been abandoned by her Dad isn't kind. Or that a boy is so boring, he is known in her mind as The Boy with Purple Socks. The implication is that Harriet is extremely bright so her antisocial behavior isn't so bad. Besides, doesn't anyone feel alarmed that this child is breaking and entering with no penalty? The extremely well to do parents are what we would now call absentee parents and only get involved when things have reached a crisis. They take Harriet to a psychiatrist ONE time and everything is solved? The kid has never been taught to love anyone but her incredibly obnoxious nurse. The nurse is clearly where Harriet picked up the idea of observing people and "telling the truth". Unkind truths. Only perhaps one time did the twerp write something that was true and not mean. She doesn't get punished for her little game of running into the cook at full speed on a daily basis. The cook gets a $5.00 raise (I hope that may be $5 per hour but I suspect it was $5 per day) instead. A big deal was made out of Harriet's love for routine but nothing came of this. She has tomato sandwiches daily and the cook is sick of making tomato sandwiches. So???? Harriet's love of routine is the least of her problems. The more I think about this book, the more I feel dislike for the book and the mc. I just downgraded the book to two stars. I'm glad I reread this book but I'm glad it is off my to read shelf and hopefully the next book I grab won't be so unpleasant. A friend and I were trying to think of books with characters living in apartments and this was mentioned. Harriet is far too rich to live in an apartment. She lives in a brownstone in New York but it hasn't been made into apartments. The one positive thing I'd have gotten about Harriet is that she is insatiably curious about people. Now if only she learns to interact with people, not just observe them!

  27. 5 out of 5

    badfae

    I received this book as a birthday gift on either my sixth or seventh birthday (I think it was my seventh. I still remember the name of the friend who gave it to me, too). I loved it then, and I still do now. Harriet is a quirky kid, a bit out-of-step with her peers, and that was something I could always relate to (not to mention my childhood ambition to be a writer!). I used to read it at least once a year, growing up, even after I was "too old" for it (you're never too old for Harriet), but ha I received this book as a birthday gift on either my sixth or seventh birthday (I think it was my seventh. I still remember the name of the friend who gave it to me, too). I loved it then, and I still do now. Harriet is a quirky kid, a bit out-of-step with her peers, and that was something I could always relate to (not to mention my childhood ambition to be a writer!). I used to read it at least once a year, growing up, even after I was "too old" for it (you're never too old for Harriet), but had to throw my old copy away quite some time ago, because it was in pieces. Finally, I got around to replacing it earlier this week; next on my list is making my husband read it :-P One great thing about reading a childhood favorite over and over again is that, as you mature, you appreciate the book differently. I always knew I liked Fitzhugh's style, but I hadn't realized until this reading what it was I so enjoyed. Much like Judy Blume, this writer didn't talk down to her readers, and she didn't present a perfect, virtuous heroine. Harriet is believable. Harriet The Spy has a sort of dryly witty delivery that I've always appreciated, and it's clear Fitzhugh had a lot of affection for her characters. It's no wonder this became such a classic.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Markus

    I just read this for the billionth time -- this time out loud, to my son. Pronouncing each word forced me to notice the casual brilliance of Fitzhugh's prose. "There was a cold wind off the water, but the day was one of those bright, brilliant, shining days that made her feel the world was beautiful, would always be, would always sing, could hold no disappointments." "She looked out over the water to the neon sign whose pink greed spoiled the view at night." Dazzling.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Selene Matheson

    3.5 Stars

  30. 5 out of 5

    Gray Cox

    I swear, re-reading this I realized that Harriet is exactly like one of my little sisters, so, she's going to be forced to read this soon. 😂😂😂

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