Bibliography: Fitzhugh, Louise. Harriet the Spy. Illustrated by the author. Delacorte Press, 1964. 300 pages. Tr. $13.61, ISBN 978-0-385-32783-1
Plot: Eleven year old Harriet M. Welsch, who loves tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches, wants to be a writer, but she also aspires to be a spy. Her nanny, Ole Golly, encourages her to observe others activities and behaviors and write down what she observes in her notebook for practice. Each day she goes through her ‘spy route’ and writes down everything she sees of her classmates, friends, and neighborhood. While playing a game of tag. Harriet loses her notebook and some classmates find it and all of the horrible things that Harriet has written about them. The classmates form a Spy Catcher Club and think of mean ways to get back at Harriet. She loses her friends and Ole Golly who is getting married. What is she going to do?
Review: This is a fantastic book that shows the struggles of an eleven year old girl who is going through a hard time at home and at school. After losing her spy notebook, Harriet’s classmates find it and do not like what is written inside. The classmates and Harriet’s two best friends concoct evil schemes to get back at Harriet for what she wrote. Meanwhile at home, Harriet’s nanny Ole Golly is leaving to get married, and Harriet feels upset and alone. Fitzhugh has written a classic story of tween behavior and problems. The need to belong and fit in is not lost in this book and many tweens will be able to relate to Harriet and the struggles that she is facing with her friends, classmates, and at home. A must read.
Reading Level/Interest Level: 4.5/5-8 graders
Similar Materials: Matilda, by Roald Dahl, Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren, Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell
Reader’s Advisory: There are a couple other Harriet the Spy novels, they include Harriet the Spy, Double Agent and Harriet the Spy, the Long Secret. This is a really great novel for children to read if they are struggling with friend issues, it might help them understand some things better. If not that, it will at least let them know that they are not the only ones who have troubles with friends and classmates. A wonderful book that any child can relate to on a personal level.