What I Learned From Reading Harriet the Spy

3 years ago

 

 

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Harriet M. Welsch just turned fifty years old.  This clever protagonist spies on family, friends, classmates and neighbors and records her thoughts and observations in her trusty notebook.  She lives in the pages of  one of my favorite novels, Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh.

The 50th anniversary edition (issued on Feb. 25) includes a new map of Harriet's neighborhood and spy route as well as tributes from 14 well-known writers including Judy Blume and Lois Lowry. 

As I read this novel again (my fifth time?), I was reminded that Fitzhugh drew each of the book's illustrations.  I think these sketches perfectly capture the personalities and nuances of Harriet, her friends Sport and Janie, and the other characters she observes on her spy route, such as Ole Golly, Mrs. Plumber and Harrison Withers.

I was a tomboy growing up and loved the fact that Harriet didn't dress like a girl. Her spy uniform consisted of rolled-up baggy jeans, a belt (to which she attached her flashlight, leather pouch for her notebook, extra pens, canteen and a multi-faceted Boy Scout knife), a hooded sweatshirt and tennis shoes.  She was clearly the second smartest character in the book.  This includes the adults.

Harriet is an inspiring writer who displays enviable confidence and competence as she navigates her solo spy route and records her many thoughts and observations in her notebook.   She is a bold individual who doesn't apologize for her honesty, characteristics that didn't always draw rave reviews from 1964 critics. 

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If my young self wrote Harriet a letter, it would probably look something like this: 
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No one asked me to write this post, I just honestly love this book and think you will, too.  I have recommended it to children around the world.

For more Harriet information, visit:  http://www.harrietthespybooks.com 

Bonnie L. Frank

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