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Harriet the Spy: 50th Anniversary Edition Hardcover – Illustrated, February 25, 2014
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"Finding Harriet as a young writer in the mid 1960s was inspiring. It meant I wasn’t the only one who wanted to tell stories about kids who were real."—JUDY BLUME
“I don’t know of a better novel...that made more readers of my generation want to become fiction writers. I love the story of Harriet so much I feel as if I lived it.” —JONATHAN FRANZEN, author of Freedom and The Corrections
"Harriet the Spy bursts with life."—School Library Journal
"The characterizations are marvelously shrewd."—The Bulletin
About the Author
- Publisher : Delacorte Books for Young Readers; Illustrated edition (February 25, 2014)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0385376103
- ISBN-13 : 978-0385376105
- Reading age : 8 - 12 years
- Lexile measure : 760L
- Grade level : 3 - 7
- Item Weight : 15.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.94 x 0.98 x 8.56 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #169,227 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
"A timely novel highlighting the worth and delicate nature of Nature itself." -Delia Owens Learn more
Top reviews from the United States
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Harriet is a self-regimented child who likes the stability of repetition. Her room must be precisely so. She always takes tomato sandwiches to school for lunch. She always has cake and milk when she returns from school in the afternoon. She then goes out to spy on a number of people—a rich woman, an Italian family, a cat-crazy man, and a married couple who consider themselves perfect. Harriet writes about them in her notebook … but she also writes about her classmates and her best friends, and the brutal honesty of her thoughts causes five shades of hell when her notebook falls into their hands.
When the world changes around her in unexpected ways, Harriet finds herself unable to cope. In order to bring herself back into focus, she must learn to take responsibility for her actions, to show a little tact, and to be emotionally as well as factually honest. The resulting story is remarkable. Times have changed quite a bit, and eleven year olds seem to be knowledgeable beyond their years, but Harriet is still a winner. She’s rambunctious, laugh-out-loud funny, and yes, inspirational.
Although it usually lands on “best of” lists, HARRIET THE SPY has been greatly criticized over the years. The most persistent complaint leveled against the book is that Harriet is a mean kid who deliberately attacks her friends and classmates. I find the accusation a little silly: Harriet is not so much mean as outrageously honest, and she doesn’t deliberately insult her friends, although they certainly feel insulted when they read what she has privately written. More to the point, the book itself is about personal growth, and Harriet’s foibles (which range from trespassing to a mild profanity to classroom mayhem) are in the nature of lessons to be learned.
Author Louise Fitzhugh was lesbian, and more recently HARRIET THE SPY has been accused of having a homosexual agenda. Harriet is a girl who often dresses like a boy and who behaves in ways that seem boyish; she must, therefore be lesbian. Her friend Sport is a boy who seems somewhat weak; he must, therefore, be gay. And then there is this business about the boy who always purple socks. Everyone knows that purple is a color associated with gays and lesbians. Well … if you are determined to read a “homosexual agenda” into absolutely everything, I suppose you can scratch one out of this. But I’ll think you’re crazy and so will most other people.
Now and then I like to go back to some of the books I read when I was a child. There are the Brains Benton mystery series, and the Oz books, and the whole Hardy Boys/Tom Swift/Nancy Drew thing. And they are all fun and enjoyable in their ways. But to say it flatly, HARRIET THE SPY isn’t just a children’s book suitable for nostalgia; it is one of the best books I’ve read of any type. Simple as that. The 50th Anniversary Edition, available in both print and Kindle, comes complete with the original illustrations by Fitzhugh and a dozen or so essays by authors who comment on the impact the book had on them. Strongly recommend … for children and adults.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
I recently downloaded this book on Kindle and read it again, trying to decide whether I should gift this to my grandchildren. I haven’t decided yet. I also haven’t seen the 1996 movie that was made, but I will probably watch that soon as well, and maybe review it too.
This book includes a character who experiments in a home chemistry lab and wants to blow up the world. There is a reference to killing another kid with poison. It is all presented in a non-serious lighthearted way, but some parents will want to avoid.
Harriet dreams of being a spy, she eavesdrops on other people, and writes her thoughts and observations into a notebook in a completely unfiltered manner, as a young child might do. Of course there are consequences to this which is the dominant theme of the book, and there are some moral and practical lessons. She sneaks into other people’s houses and places of work to spy on them, and a very little bit of life’s gritty underbelly here is hinted at in places. Lifestyles of the wealthy, middle class, and less well-to-do are also contrasted here, but again in a very light manner.
So if this were written today, maybe 3 stars. Some parents would like this overall book, others would skip it. I think a reasonable overall rating today is four stars, and it is a good read for adults revisiting their childhood reading.
Top reviews from other countries
I don't like the way she speaks but I don't think it should stop us from reading it.
Makes u laugh.