Harriet the Spy
Harriet the Spy
From the Trade Paperback edition.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Text Difficulty:3 - 6
From the book
Harriet was trying to explain to Sport how to play Town. "See, first you make up the name of the town. Then you write down the names of all the people who live in it. You can't have too many or it gets too hard. I usually have twenty-five."
"Ummmm." Sport was tossing a football in the air. They were in the courtyard of Harriet's house on East Eighty-seventh Street in Manhattan.
"Then when you know who lives there, you make up what they do. For instance, Mr. Charles Hanley runs the filling station on the corner." Harriet spoke thoughtfully as she squatted next to the big tree, bending so low over her notebook that her long straight hair touched the edges.
"Don'tcha wanta play football?" Sport asked.
"Now, listen, Sport, you never did this and it's fun. Now over here next to this curve in the mountain we'll put the filling station. So if anything happens there, you remember where it is."
Sport tucked the football under his arm and walked over to her. "That's nothing but an old tree root. Whaddya mean, a mountain?"
"That's a mountain. From now on that's a mountain. Got it?" Harriet looked up into his face.
Sport moved back a pace. "Looks like an old tree root," he muttered.
Harriet pushed her hair back and looked at him seriously. "Sport, what are you going to be when you grow up?"
"You know what. You know I'm going to be a ball player."
"Well, I'm going to be a writer. And when I say that's a mountain, that's a mountain." Satisfied, she turned back to her town.
Sport put the football gently on the ground and knelt beside her, looking over her shoulder at the notebook in which she scribbled furiously.
"Now, as soon as you've got all the men's names down, and their wives' names and their children's names, then you figure out all their professions. You've got to have a doctor, a lawyer—"
"And an Indian chief," Sport interrupted.
"No. Someone who works in television."
"What makes you think they have television?"
"I say they do. And, anyway, my father has to be in it, doesn't he?"
"Well, then put mine in too. Put a writer in it."
"Okay, we can make Mr. Jonathan Fishbein a writer."
"And let him have a son like me who cooks for him." Sport rocked back and forth on his heels, chanting in singsong, "And let him be eleven years old like me, and let him have a mother who went away and has all the money, and let him grow up to be a ball player."
"Nooo," Harriet said in disgust. "Then you're not making it up. Don't you understand?"
Sport paused. "No," he said.
"Just listen, Sport. See, now that we have all this written down, I'll show you where the fun is." Harriet got very businesslike. She stood up, then got on her knees in the soft September mud so she could lean over the little valley made between the two big roots of the tree. She referred to her notebook every now and then, but for the most part she stared intently at the mossy lowlands which made her town. "Now, one night, late at night, Mr. Charles Hanley is in his filling station. He is just about to turn out the lights and go home because it is nine o'clock and time for him to get ready for bed."
"But he's a grown-up!" Sport looked intently at the spot occupied by the gas station.
"In this town everybody goes to bed at nine-thirty," Harriet said definitely.
"Oh"—Sport rocked a little on his heels—"my father goes to bed at nine in the morning. Sometimes I meet him getting up."
"And also, Dr. Jones is delivering a baby to Mrs. Harrison right over here in the hospital. Here is the hospital, the Carterville General...
About the Author-
Louise Fitzhugh (1928-1974) was born in Memphis, Tennessee. She attended Bard College, studied art in Italy and France, and continued her studies in New York at the Art Students League and at Cooper Union. Her books Harriet the Spy, The Long Secret, and Sport have been acclaimed as milestones of children's literature. These classics delight readers year after year.
- cavachon - If you've always wanted to be mischievous but was afraid to get in trouble, you can read about Harriet the Spy's own adventures and live through her! Harriet is an 11 year old girl who spies on different people in her neighborhood -- classmates, neighbors, her family, her nanny -- and scribbles down her brutally honest feelings and observations in a secret notebook. She'll even sneak into this one woman's house and hide in there while she spies on her! The people she spies on are funny characters, each one quirky, dramatic, and fascinating. Harriet herself is quite funny and intelligent. Through spying on all these people, she asks herself a lot of questions about life in general and how these peoples' lives differ from each other. She writes down anything and everything she feels in her secret notebook, including what she REALLY thinks about people she knows. But to Harriet's dismay, her classmates find her secret notebook one day and reads everything out loud, making everyone furious with her. Her friends turn on her and Harriet becomes an outcast for a while. In the end, after some self-reflection and some wise advice from an adult whom she really respects, she learns to be more thoughtful and considerate of other people's feelings. She learns a lot about herself as well through it all. This is a wonderfully entertaining and thought-provoking book that I've read many, many times. And it is also easy to read. Louise Fitzhugh, the author, drew the pictures in the book herself and they're delightful and full of life. I really recommend that you read this; it will be a permanent collection on your bookshelf for years.
- Jonathan Franzen, author of Freedom and The Corrections "I don't know of a better novel about the costs and rewards of being a truth teller, nor of any book that made more readers of my generation want to become fiction writers. I love the story of Harriet so much I feel as if I lived it."
- School Library Journal "Harriet the Spy bursts with life."
- The Bulletin "The characterizations are marvelously shrewd."
PublisherRandom House Children's Books
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