Friday, October 28, 2022

Review of Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

This review was written by Eugene Kernes   

Book can be found in: 
Genre = Novel
Intriguing Connections = 1) Stories Worthy of Children, 2) Some Kind of Friendship

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“”Since I could write.  Ole Golly told me if I was going to be a writer I better write down everything, so I’m a spy that writes down everything”” – Louise Fitzhugh, Chapter 2, Page 36

“Of course not.  Can you see Mata Hari in a gym suit?  First of all, if you wear your spy clothes everyone knows you’re a spy, so what have you gained?  No, you have to look like everyone else, then you’ll get by and no one will suspect you.” – Louise Fitzhugh, Chapter 5, Page 87

“Sport was pulling at her sleeve.  He whispered frantically, “you can’t quit.  This is a SCHOOL.” But it was too late.  Even that mild thing, Beth Ellen, was laughing her head off.” – Louise Fitzhugh, Chapter 7, Page 151



Harriet wants to be a writer.  To practice, Harriet writes down everything about everyone.  To be a writer, Harriet became a spy.  Carrying around spy tools and writing supplies on a belt while going on spy routes around the neighborhood.  Always carrying a notebook, with thoughts on everyone.  Harriet is a spy, but is also learning what it is to be a spy.  A spy is not supposed to get caught.  For Harriet, it was worse than getting caught, as the notebook was misplaced and was picked up by a classmate who then started to read the content to everyone.  The content containing many details that the classmates did not want to hear about themselves.  This created discord and friction even among Harriet’s friends, which brings with it an understanding of the value of friendship. 

This is a book about negotiation skills, and emotional turmoil.  Teaching not only how to be a spy, but also how to treat others.  Teaching how to belong to a community. 



This book does not make light of emotional turmoil.  Which makes the book very difficult emotionally.  But bringing with it an understanding on how to manage emotions.  

Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?  Why do people read this book?
•What are some limitations of the book?
•To whom would you suggest the book?
•Who is Harriet?
•Who are Harriet’s friends?
•Who are Harriet’s classmates?
•Why is Harriet a spy?
•Why does Harriet write everything down?
•Who does Harriet spy on?
•How does Harriet lose the notebook?
•What happens when classmates read the notebook?
•How does Harriet react to how classmates treat Harriet after they read the notebook?
•How do Harriet’s friends treat Harriet after they read the notebook?
•How do Harriet’s emotions change through the book?

Book Details
Publisher:         Dell Publishing
Edition ISBN:  044034475
Pages to read:   296
Publication:     1984
1st Edition:      1964
Format:            Paperback

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    4
Content          3
Overall           3