I wanted to write an entry about one of my favorite children’s books: Harriet the Spy. I posted about it on Facebook as well, but I wanted to go into more details about how this book impacted me, in addition to becoming a writer.
I have to be honest, I was impacted by the movie before the book, but both played an equal role with my writing aspirations. I first saw the movie when I was eight years old. My mom bought the VHS tape, and I sat down and watched it. Michelle Trachtenberg played the role of Harriet with a large amount of emotions (anger, sadness, happiness, etc.), and I laughed at the funny things and was angry when she was caught in Mrs. Plumber’s dumbwaiter. I was sad when Ole Golly (Rosie O’Donnell) went away, and angry along with Harriet when her friends started getting revenge on her because of what she wrote about them. I also remember feeling happy when Harriet and her friends and classmates finally made amends, and I enjoyed seeing Harriet become the editor of the sixth grade newspaper (which also inspired me to create a school newspaper at my elementary school called The Bellaire Buzz). After I saw the movie, I got the book. I have two copies now: an older one with Harriet as a blonde, and the one with the same cover as the VHS tape box. I read the book over and over, even if I did not understand some of the content (i.e. dancing school, egg creams, or the word fink). I admired the character of Harriet because she was outspoken and opinionated (even if she was a bit spoiled and immature), and she called (or wrote) everything like she saw it (in this case it was literal because she was a spy).
Through Harriet, I learned about how to be a good spy (I wore a coat and had a fanny pack full of my spy gear :-)), as well as how to be a nicer person (I knew I did not want to be mean like she was, both in real life and in her writing sometimes). But I also learned how to keep my eyes and ears open for everything no matter what.
So thank you, Louise Fitzhugh, for creating this memorable character and for writing this book. It has had an influence on me as an aspiring writer, as well as an amateur detective/spy. It was also what inspired me to write many short mystery stories as a kid.