Nancy's Reviews > Harriet the Spy

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
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Mar 26, 2012

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Read in March, 2012

Harriet the Spy (1964) by Louise Fitzhugh is a contemporary realistic fiction book (I), although it is dated by some references to popular TV shows and expressions during the 60’s – Dr. Ben Casey, Dr. Kildaire, finks, finked, etc. The book contains some pen and ink illustrations by the author to help us picture some of some of the characters in the book. The main character, Harriet, is eleven years old in the sixth grade and an only child, who has always had a nanny, Ole Golly. In addition to the nanny, her family employs a cook and a housekeeper. This year becomes a traumatic for Harriet whose nanny moves away. Harriet loves writing everything in her notebooks. One day she loses it while playing tag with her classmates. Her friend, Janie, finds her notebook and reads aloud to her classmates some hurtful things Harriet has written about them. Harriet’s life changes again and she experiences more loss– her classmates will not speak to her, her lunch is stolen, during lunch no one will sit with her, spitballs are thrown at her, ink is spilled on her, and her former friends form a spy club excluding her. Harriet retaliates, feels miserable and misses Ole Golly. Her parents take Harriet to a doctor who helps them understand how to help Harriet get through these dramatic and life changing events. This book is recommended to help children understand peer pressure and feelings of loss. It is considered a milestone in literature for children, selected as one of the “One Hundred Books that Shaped the Century” (2000); this is a unanimous selection chosen by librarian experts.
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