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Harriet the Spy (1964)

by Louise Fitzhugh

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Harriet the Spy (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,8331201,307 (4.05)174
Eleven-year-old Harriet keeps notes on her classmates and neighbors in a secret notebook, but when some of the students read the notebook, they seek revenge.
  1. 60
    The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (lorin77)
  2. 10
    Absolutely Normal Chaos by Sharon Creech (themephi)
  3. 11
    When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (DetailMuse)
  4. 00
    Elvis & Olive by Stephanie Watson (infiniteletters)
  5. 00
    The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley (kraaivrouw)
  6. 00
    Dear George Clooney: Please Marry My Mom by Susin Nielsen (foggidawn)
    foggidawn: Both of these books have feisty heroines struggling through that awkward tween phase, making up schemes, getting into scrapes, and delighting their readers.
  7. 00
    Mixtape for the Apocalypse by Jemiah Jefferson (kiparsky)
    kiparsky: Jefferson claims that Fitzhugh was a direct inspiration for her narrative style.
  8. 00
    Small Change for Stuart by Lissa Evans (kraaivrouw)

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» See also 174 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 120 (next | show all)
A re-read after many years. Good characterisation - the children are realistically flawed and the protagonist has difficulties relating to others and understanding why they are offended by the comments made about them in her notebook. In some respects, it is the portrayal of a privileged child who is neglected by her parents and has received her rather amoral values from her nurse/nanny. Crisis occurs when said nurse leaves and Harriet's notebook is read by her classmates. I did find the resolution a bit glib where she is rehabilitated by being given the class news page to edit. I'm sure parents wouldn't be pleased by the suggestion in her ex-nurse's letter that she should either apologise or lie - which Harriet does by placing a formal statement on the class paper that anything people read that upset them was a lie and is apologised for, when this apology is of course a lie in itself. ( )
  kitsune_reader | Nov 23, 2023 |
Eleven-year-old Harriet M. Welsch knows exactly what she wants to be when she grows up. A spy. She’s already practicing, wearing spy clothes and carrying a notebook on her spy route. The adult she listens to is Ole Golly, her nurse. Ole Golly told Harriet that she needs to get out in the world and see lots of people, because there are as many ways to live as there are people, and Harriet needs to decide how she wants to live. I don’t think Ole Golly meant for Harriet to break into people’s homes and businesses, but that’s what Harriet does. Harriet’s world falls apart when Ole Golly leaves and, shortly afterward, Harriet’s lost notebook is found and read by her classmates.

I didn’t read this book as a child, and I don’t think it would have appealed to me then. I was not a snooper as a child, and I avoided the children who were. Harriet’s breaking and entering bothered me. The bullying Harriet experienced after her classmates read her lost notebook was even more troubling, as were Harriet’s payback fantasies. It’s obvious to the reader that Harriet is a budding writer. It takes a child psychiatrist to point out the obvious to Harriet’s parents, who then enlighten Harriet’s teachers and Ole Golly. ( )
  cbl_tn | Jan 12, 2023 |
If I’d read this as a kid I would have struggled with the incessant meanness and how this bully of a main character never really changes her behavior or shows any sort of remorse, and in fact, she’s rewarded for being horrible. I doubt my child self would have been cool with any of that, especially since I could totally have seen myself as a Harriet target.

Reading this an adult however, I guess I was able to take this less seriously or personally than I likely would have as a sensitive kid, and while plenty of Harriet’s actions had me cringing and I did wish to see more of a comeuppance for her than she received, admittedly, I found Harriet entertaining.

Harriet’s obsession with tomato sandwiches was so odd that it couldn’t help feeling funny. Equally odd is reading something that’s considered a children’s classic constantly thinking okay here’s the moment when Harriet’s going to understand how hurtful she is and become apologetic, only this girl continuously doubles-down with her awfulness, her answer to everything seems to be I’ll do worse, that’ll teach them. It’s so unexpected to read a children’s book where basically no lessons are learned, combine that with Harriet’s brazen persistence in being horrible and you get something a little amusing and a bit dark, with an entirely unique feel to it. If you can get on board with the villain winning then this is a twisted sort of enjoyable, just, you know, don’t dwell on how miserable it would be to tangle with someone like Harriet in real life. ( )
  SJGirl | Oct 17, 2022 |
Harriet the Spy is an interesting read. The idea of a child who spends her time spying on people is strange. Harriet has some friends but not many, probably due to her standoffish nature. Her parents are there but hardly around so this might contribute to her behaviors. Harriet keeps a journal where she talks about many people, including her friends. I was somewhat happy that it was found and read by her friends, however, she didn't receive any punishment and did not feel sorry for hurting her friend's feelings. This was a point in the book that I definitely disagreed with. ( )
  aachavez | Oct 11, 2022 |
Stopped about half way. I think that's enough to feel comfortable giving it a one star. If it doesn't suck me in by then... ( )
  Luziadovalongo | Jul 14, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 120 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Fitzhugh, LouiseAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Artl, Inge M.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bobby, AnneNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Original title
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Original publication date
Important places
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First words
Harriet was trying to explain to Sport how to play town.
[Harriet] hated math. She hated math with every bone in her body. She spent so much time hating it that she never had time to do it.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This is the book, not the movie.
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Wikipedia in English


Eleven-year-old Harriet keeps notes on her classmates and neighbors in a secret notebook, but when some of the students read the notebook, they seek revenge.

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Book description
Harrriet M Welsch is a spy. She's staked out a spy route, and she writes down everything about everyone she sees, including her classmates and even her best friends. From Harriet's notebooks: I bet the lady with the crosks-eye looks in the mirror and feels just terrible. Pinky Whitehead will never change, does his mother hate him? If I had him, I'd hate him. If Marion Hawthorne doesn't watch out she's going to grow up into a lady Hitler. Then Harriet loses track of her notebook, and it ends up in the wrong hands. Before Harriet 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? (0-440-41679-5)
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