Harriet the Spy
First ever edition
|Media type||Print (hardcover)|
|Pages||298 (first ed.)|
Harriet the Spy is a children's novel written and illustrated by
Eleven-year-old Harriet M. Welsch is an aspiring writer who lives in New York City's
Harriet's best friends are Simon "Sport" Rocque, a serious boy who wants to be a
Harriet enjoys having structure in her life. For example, she regularly eats tomato sandwiches and adamantly refuses to consume other types of sandwiches. She also resists "girlie" activities, as seen when her parents expect her to attend dance school and she stubbornly refuses. Ole Golly gets Harriet to change her mind on dance school by telling her the stories of
Later at school, during her period
Harriet regularly spies on them through a back fence and concocts vengeful ways to punish them. She realizes the consequences of the mean things she wrote, and though she is hurt and lonely, she still thinks up special punishments for each member of the club. After getting into trouble for carrying out some of her plans, Harriet tries to resume her friendship with Sport and Janie as if nothing had ever happened, but they both reject her. Harriet spends all her time in class writing in her notebook as a part of her plan to outfox the Spy Catcher Club. As a result of never doing her schoolwork and of skipping school for days at a time and taking to her bed out of depression, her grades suffer. This leads Harriet's parents to confiscate her notebook, which only depresses Harriet further. Harriet's mother takes her daughter to see a psychiatrist, who advises Harriet's parents to contact Ole Golly and encourage Harriet's former nanny to write to her. In her letter, Ole Golly tells Harriet that if anyone ever reads her notebook, "you have to do two things, and you don't like either one of them. 1: You have to apologize. 2: You have to lie. Otherwise you are going to lose a friend."
Meanwhile, dissent is rippling through the Spy Catcher Club. Marion and Rachel are calling all the shots, and Sport and Janie are tired of being bossed around. When they quit the club, most of their classmates do the same.
Harriet's parents speak with her teacher and the headmistress, and Harriet is appointed editor of the class newspaper, replacing Marion. The newspaper—featuring stories about the people on Harriet's spy route and the students' parents—becomes an instant success. Harriet also uses the paper to make amends by printing a retraction, defeating Marion, and is forgiven by Sport and Janie.