Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh was one of the books I read over and over (and over) again when I was young. As you can see, the book has aged over the years, and suffered some water damage when I dropped it in the bathtub by accident. I reread it to review it for this post and was trying to be careful that the pages didn’t fall out.
I remember reading this book and being fascinated by the idea of “spying” in the way Harriet did. She got a great perspective of how people lived their lives, which I realize now is something I’m extremely interested in. The difference is that now it’s a lot easier to get into people’s heads with the way information is provided, but who could have foreseen that? Harriet would have loved the social media age where people put their lives up in the public eye like it’s nothing.
Most of all, however, I loved this book because it was so incredibly relatable to me. I was that odd kid, who wrote all the time, read books at night under the covers, and stood back to observe rather than join in with everything. I was the kid that played imaginary games like “Town” and had thoughts that my parents and others around me found odd. I was also the one (although not until much later) who had her journal read by people who shouldn’t have seen it and was ridiculed for it. Reading it again as an adult, I understand some things better than I did when I was younger (oh so that’s what that paragraph is trying to say!), and especially appreciate Ole Golly’s quotes a lot more. At the time, I was in the position of understanding Harriet by being in the same place she was. Now, I understand Harriet in the sense of how I used to be, and how I am now.
I didn’t realize until nearly 10-15 years after I read this for the first time that it was written in 1964. In reading a little bit more about the author, I realized how ahead of her time she was in some ways, and some of the ideas and customs that were present in this book make so much more sense to the time period of the 1960s than in the mid-late 1990s when I was reading this book myself.
This was one of my absolute favorite books from childhood. Rereading it for this post was a pleasure, and once I started I was speeding through it like usual, even though I haven’t picked it up for at least 10 years. I’d definitely recommend it to your curious children, I hope they would enjoy it as much as I did.
If you’d like to participate in the “From the Bowels of Obscurity Children’s Book Club”, or read other posts like mine, visit the first post by Heather over at Becoming Cliche’ here.