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Review: Harriet the Spy

February 20, 2010

Eleven year old Harriet M. Welsch is a spy and she takes it seriously.  She follows a regular route and carries her notebook, jotting down observations on things and people she sees along the way.  She even writes about her friends, classmates and family.  She keeps her notebook with her at all times and guards it carefully.

One day, while she’s playing with her classmates, Harriet loses track of her notebook and someone picks it up.  Before Harriet knows what happened the whole class has read her notebook and everyone knows what she wrote about them  and a lot of it’s not kind.  Harriet is ostracized and she doesn’t know how to make amends with her friends and classmates.

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh is a delightful book!  Harriet is my kind of girl – tomboyish, determined and curious.  She’s not part of the in-crowd, but doesn’t really want to be. She wants to be a writer and a spy and will do just about anything to achieve her goals.  Harriet’s parents aren’t too involved in the story, but that’s okay because Harriet is an independent, level-headed girl.

When Harriet is assigned the part of an onion in a school play, her teacher says,

An onion is a beautiful thing.  Have you ever really looked at an onion?

How could you not love a book with a line like that?  Seriously, Harriet the Spy is a great middle grade book about treating your friends with kindness and learning to make amends.

Every Saturday, Julie of Booking Mama  hosts a feature called Kid Konnection — a (hopefully) regular weekend feature about anything related to children’s books. Click on the logo to go to her site and see more reviews.

Challenges: Shelf Discovery Challenge, The New York Challenge

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49 Comments leave one →
  1. February 20, 2010 6:05 am

    I loved Harriet the Spy as a kid! Both the book and the film, which I’m pretty sure is what got me interested in the book in the first place.

  2. February 20, 2010 6:20 am

    I never heard Harriet the Spy. It sounds really cute!

  3. February 20, 2010 6:23 am

    Childhood favorite! I also like the Nickelodeon movie version 🙂

  4. February 20, 2010 7:01 am

    I loved this book too as a kid. I always likened myself to Harriet, but when I look at the character now, it is about as far from my daughter as possible. Where are the skinny jeans and Abercrombie t-shirts?

  5. bethfishreads permalink
    February 20, 2010 7:36 am

    I too loved this book when I was a kid. I bet I still have the hard cover of the novel somewhere in this house. She had such spunk.

  6. February 20, 2010 7:41 am

    Sounds like a wonderful book. These were very popular at our library.

  7. February 20, 2010 8:02 am

    Thanks so much for sharing — both the Shelf Discovery challenge and Kid’s Konnection. I haven’t read this one forever! It’s sitting here though. I think Booking Daughter is getting a little too old.

  8. February 20, 2010 8:06 am


  9. February 20, 2010 8:11 am

    I got this for my daughter for Christmas, but I don’t think I’ve ever read it. It sounds like I should!

  10. February 20, 2010 8:37 am

    I recently got this one to read again for the Flashback Challenge. I loved it the first time I read it when I was at school and was so happy to find a copy of it through Bookmooch.

  11. February 20, 2010 8:50 am

    This was one of my very favorite books as a kid. For a while I fancied myself a little Harriet! thanks for reviewing it!

  12. February 20, 2010 9:07 am

    I’ve always wanted either to read this or see the movie. thanks for the cute review!

  13. February 20, 2010 9:21 am

    LOL…that should be your tagline!

  14. February 20, 2010 9:39 am

    There are so many great books that I missed out on. Even back then as a child, so many books and so little time!

  15. February 20, 2010 10:00 am

    I’ve never read this book, but you make me want to! It sounds like a delightful book, one that will be enjoyed greatly!

  16. February 20, 2010 10:10 am

    I loved this book as a child, although I’d forgotten most of the plot before reading your review. I think this was one of the first books where I read it and then saw the movie, and of course the movie couldn’t live up to the book!

  17. February 20, 2010 10:46 am

    I loved Harriet as a child, too!

    I wanted to let you know that I gave your blog an award. Hope you are having a great weekend. Check out the award here:

  18. February 20, 2010 11:00 am

    This one sounds like a winner!

  19. February 20, 2010 11:02 am

    I loved Harriet the Spy when I was a girl. Reading your review makes me want to read it again. I’m glad that you enjoyed this one, it is wonderful. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, you should it is very good.

  20. February 20, 2010 11:20 am

    Gosh, I haven’t read this in forever. I didn’t even think of getting it for my son, but I think he would enjoy it. Thanks for the reminder and great review.

  21. February 20, 2010 12:17 pm

    I loved this book when I was younger. It’s definitely one I’ll re-read as an adult 🙂

  22. February 20, 2010 2:10 pm

    I absolutely loved Harriet the Spy and now I want to re-read it right away! Thanks for jarring my memory, Kathy!

  23. February 20, 2010 2:15 pm

    Fun review, Kathy! I need to “check out” Julie’s Kid’s Konnection. 🙂

  24. February 20, 2010 3:06 pm

    This was one of my favorite books as a kid. I tried to read it to my boys and they thought it was just okay. Alas.

  25. February 20, 2010 3:10 pm

    I loved this book when I was a kid! It was one I re-read quite a few times.

  26. stacybuckeye permalink
    February 20, 2010 3:32 pm

    I love that you are dicovering these books. Better late than never 🙂

  27. February 20, 2010 3:50 pm

    Great book to read for this Kathy!! I love Harriet!

  28. February 20, 2010 4:48 pm

    I never read any of these books, but I bet The Girl would love them! Actually, just read her your review and she definitely wants to read them.

  29. February 20, 2010 5:16 pm

    I loved this book as a kid and loved it just as much when I read it recently. 🙂

  30. February 20, 2010 9:20 pm

    Oh … my beloved Harriet!! I adored this book as a child … I even took up spying on people after reading it. (Strangers at the mall … not friends. I guess I learned something.)

    And I wanted to thank you for the “An American Family” book. It arrived yesterday and I already read it! Fascinating!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  31. February 21, 2010 8:48 am

    I can’t believe I never read this! It does sound like a complete delight.

  32. February 22, 2010 10:20 am

    This was my favorite book as a child. I read and reread it until it fell apart and then got another one (the original copy was bought at the University of Hawaii bookstore because my parents were taking a class there and we spent the summer, so I didn’t have many other books that summer, when I turned 11).

    I learned some things about the NYC area from that book. It was a thrill when I moved to Middletown, RI at the age of 21 and saw an “egg cream” on a menu. You can bet I ordered one!

    I have a blogging friend who calls her long-established blog “Spynotes” and uses the name “Harriet.” How could I not become a fan of her blog?

  33. February 22, 2010 10:57 am

    Oh this is one of my favourite childhood books!

  34. February 22, 2010 3:28 pm

    I think Amber would love this one.

  35. February 22, 2010 4:06 pm

    My daughter loved this book when she was younger! It’s a great story, and one that she read over and over again! Great review, glad you loved it!

  36. February 22, 2010 5:45 pm

    This was my childhood favorite. I still have my dog-eared, faded, worn copy. I’m so glad children are still reading it.

  37. February 23, 2010 12:46 pm

    I remember reading this book when I was younger, no wonder I ended up reading mysteries as an adult..what a great book!

  38. February 23, 2010 1:13 pm

    I loved this book growing up. I was a bit more of a girly girl but I sure loved this book. I checked it out from the library several times.

  39. February 23, 2010 3:40 pm

    I’m so surprised to see how many people have never read this. It was quite popular in my circle when I was a kid. And I think I am the only person I know who didn’t like it. Harriet drives me crazy!

  40. February 23, 2010 10:22 pm

    I reread this book a couple of years ago for a childhood favorites type of challenge. I loved it all over again. In many ways I could relate to Harriet when I read this as a kid and I could still feel that empathy when I read it as an adult.

  41. February 23, 2010 10:44 pm

    How did I never hear of this one before? It sounds really wonderful, and something I should have read a long time back, since I also wanted to be a spy once upon a time 😉

  42. February 24, 2010 4:34 pm

    I loved this book as a kid. I really should track it down and reread it!

  43. February 25, 2010 6:26 pm

    I read this when I was in middle school, and remember not liking it much. I don’t know, I kind of remember being underthrilled by it.

  44. February 25, 2010 10:08 pm

    I loved Harriet The Spy when I was in fifth grade, and every time I read it to my class they love it just as much. It’s such a timeless read! One of the things I remember so clearly is her tomato sandwiches, and her bath way up on the third floor, and of course, her rolling around as an onion. Hilarious!

  45. March 6, 2010 8:48 am

    I love that onion line! Harriet reminded me a little of myself because I’m quite a tomboy myself. But recently I try to be more girlish but am wondering if it’s working. LOL!

  46. March 22, 2010 2:13 pm

    We just finished this one. My daughter gave it a 9.5 out of 10, and said the lesson Harriet learned was not to let people see her notebook.

  47. March 22, 2010 2:53 pm

    I think my niece would love this one!

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