Learning the Spy Trade at an Early Age
Louise Fitzhugh (1928-1974) wrote one of my favorite books as a kid – Harriet the Spy (1964). In it, eleven year old, Harriet, keeps brutally honest observations of those around her in a spy notebook, even her best friends. Her notes go missing at school and everyone sees them. The other kids turn on her and start a Spycatcher Club, thinking of all the ways they can make her life miserable. It is a great story that shows that sometimes you should keep the truth to yourself.
Harriet the Spy was awarded the New York Times Outstanding Book Award in 1964. This book appeared on the New York Times Book Review’s list “The Year’s Best Juveniles” in 1964 and made the American Library Associations most notable list for 1960-1964. It also ranked 17th in the 2012 “Top 100 Children’s Novels” by the School Library Journal. It has sold 4 million copies since its publication. When a book can still be remembered and loved like that decades after publication, that is saying something. 🙂
Harriet the Spy was made into a Nickelodeon movie in 1996.
Ms. Fitzhugh did not stop there. She wrote two sequels – The Long Secret, and Sport – both of which still grace my shelves. She also wrote Nobody’s Family is Going to Change, which is sadly, out of print. Three other books, along with Sport were published posthumously: I Am Five, I Am Four, and I Am Three. These also appear to be out of print.
Ms. Fitzhugh was also an illustrator for both her books and those by other authors.