Harriet the Spy

Louise Fitzhugh

Harriet the Spy
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Harriet the Spy

Louise Fitzhugh

It’s no secret that Harriet the Spy is a timeless classic that kids will love! Every day can be an adventure if you just look carefully enough! 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? What the novel showed me as a child is that words have the power to hurt, but they can also heal, and that it’s much better in the long run to use this power for good than for evil.–New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot

Review

First published in 1964, Harriet the Spy is the story of eleven year old Harriet M. Welsch, who wants to be a spy and a writer. Harriet lives in Manhattan with her preoccupied socialite parents, so her main companion is her nanny, Miss Golly.

For a character written in the 60s, Harriet is an atypical heroine: she sneaks around her neighbourhood spying on school friends, their families and other locals. As a child, I was intrigued by Harriet: she was fearless and determined, and honest to the point of rudeness. She roamed the streets freely, looking for unique sights and situations. Her intense interest in the nuances of people’s lives and her compulsion to write in her notebook, always close at hand, inspired me to write too.

I also enjoyed the emotional depth of the book as Harriet faced some of the inevitable conflicts of growing up – learning how and when to compromise, and ultimately how to be true to herself.


Annie Condon is a bookseller at Readings Hawthorn and a convenor of Readings’ Contemporary Book Club.

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