Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh (1964)

Harriet the Spy cover by Louise Fitzhugh

From the 1964 HarperCollins edition of Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh:  Harriet the Spy lives in a comfortable brownstone in the east eighties in Manhattan. She is an only child who doesn’t like many of the sixth graders in her class. Of course, there’s Sport, the writer’s son; and Janie, the incipient chemist. But Harriet can’t stand Marion Hawthorne and her crowd.

Most of all, Harriet loves her nursemaid, Ole Golly … and a secret notebook which she fills with utterly honest jottings about her parents, her classmates, and her neighbors. Harriet is determined to grow up to be Harriet M. Welsch, the famous writer; and in order to get a head start on her career, she spends part of every day on her spy route “observing” and noting down, in her singular, caustic, comic way, everything of interest to her.

The first blow falls when Ole Golly leaves, the second when Harriet’s schoolmates find and read her notebook. Their anger and retaliation, Harriet’s unexpected responses, and the ingenious methods her teachers and parents use to help turn Harriet the Spy into Harriet M. Welsch combine to make a touching and unusual story.

Harriet the Spy has consistently been on lists of best, as well as bestselling, books for children ever since its publication.

Note from Literary Ladies: This has also been on the list of banned books for children, as well. Schools and parents often objected: the book included lying, spying, tantrums, and swearing. Harriet, apparently, set a bad example for children — something that kids actually love.

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More about Harriet the Spy

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