With My Little Eye

I did the whole notebook thing. When I was 9 or 10, inspired by Harriet the Spy, I spent maybe two or three afternoons eavesdropping on my neighbors' conversations and jotting down dialogue. I wasn't hanging out in any dumbwaiters, just sitting in a lounge chair in my backyard, which happened to be within hearing distance of next door. It wasn't that exciting, so I went back to making up stories—and occasionally writing commentary about my fifth grade classmates—instead of "spying."

I know I'm not the only one. Mallory got her spy on during the trip to Disney World in Baby-sitters Super Special #1. And you all did, too, right?

Anyway, as an aspiring-writer geek child, I wanted to be like Harriet. Not just like Harriet, because I thought she was kind of loud and bossy. Re-reading the book now, I would add "bratty." But I still like her! I like how particular she is about certain things, like having her cake and milk at the same time every day. (Jealous!) I like how she is so thoughtful, although mostly introspective, and makes an effort to do the things she believes to be worthwhile. I like her super-rad spying outfit, which consists of "an ancient pair of blue jeans ... an old dark-blue sweatshirt with a hood ... an old pair of blue sneakers with holes over each of her little toes ... [and] a pair of black-rimmed spectacles with no glass in them"—not to mention her tool belt, which carries a flashlight, notebook, pens, canteen, and boy scout knife.

Things I took special notice of as an adult:
  • Harriet is a rich kid. When I was younger, I kind of thought that everyone in the olden days had a nanny and a cook. Now I know better.
  • Harriet's parents send her to a shrink after the whole notebook incident at school. She plays Monopoly with him, even though she thinks it's the most boring game ever invented.
  • Harriet's mom talks about someone being "stoned out of his mind" at a party!
  • "Ole Golly just had indoor things and outdoor things. She never wore anything recognizable as a skirt, a jacket, or a sweater.  She just had yards and yards of tweed which enveloped her like a lot of discarded blankets, which ballooned out when she walked, and which she referred to as her Things."
  • Harriet's best friend Sport cooks and cleans for his dad, and he either wants to be a baseball player or a certified public accountant when he grows up. I love this. 
  • I never knew that Louise Fitzhugh drew the illustrations in addition to writing the book. My favorites are Ole Golly, Harriet spying, and Harriet doing interpretive dance as an onion.
Fifth book for the Shelf Discovery Challenge! I just started reading #6.


Julie P. said...

I really need to re-read this one. So many people read it for the Shelf Discovery challenge!

Anonymous said...

I just finished this one, too. My daughter liked it better than I did, I think.

Carin said...

I've not read this before either and it's also on my Shelf Discovery list. Hoping to get to it next week! You make it sound terrific!

Jen said...

You can add me to the "spy notebook" list. I was totally obsessed with spying, but only right after my initial reading of Harriet. I think I stopped after a few days.

I love all the things you pick up on when you re-read books as an adult.

Great review!

jen said...

this is cool, i like how you pointed out things that you noticed as an adult. i have read a few books over that i read as a kid/teen (the witch of blackbird pond and fahrenheit 451) and they almost seem like completely different books altogether!

now i want to reread this one!

Sadako said...

I tried to get my spy on, too--I think we all did. I may not have turned out as a world class CIA esque spy like Harriet did, but I like to think I owe her my snarkitude!