I chose to read Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh for Popsugar’s 2019 Reading Challenge prompt #28, a book recommended by a celebrity I admire. At first, I was put off by this prompt. I’m not one who gets overly excited by fame and celebrity. There are famous people I like well enough, certainly some historical figures I could say that I admire. No one really came to mind, however, as someone I wanted to find out their book recommendations.
Then I thought about authors I admire, and I decided they qualified as celebrities. I decided on Kate DiCamillo, an author of children’s books who seems to always have something positive to share. On Kate’s recommended reading list I found the book Harriet the Spy, and was instantly sold on this book about a girl who wants to become a writer.
In this book, Harriet, a self-proclaimed spy, carries around a notebook everywhere she goes. She writes in this notebook her various observations and opinions of all the people around her. Besides her classmates and her family, she actively follows some neighborhood people and writes about them as well. She goes so far as to sneak into a dumb waiter to spy on one such neighbor.
Her observations get her into trouble when one of her classmates gets a hold of her notebook and reads aloud all the unkind things she’s had to say about everyone, including her two best friends. Harriet ends up restricted from her notebook, and is ostracized by everyone around her. After many misadventures, Harriet ultimately learns to apologize to those she’s hurt and to temper her unkind words.
I enjoyed this book a great deal. It was funny and Harriet has an admirable adventurous spirit. I was disappointed a bit, however, when Harriet is given a chance to be the editor of the sixth grade news page, she only continues more of her unkind thoughts, writing now about the neighborhood folks rather than her peers, as if this makes it somehow okay. I would have liked to see her change a bit more in this respect after her unhappy lessons learned from her peers.
Overall, a great read. One I’d recommend for anyone who’s ever been too curious for their own good, or those who wish they’d been just a little more adventurous.