Urban Hikes and Nosey Kids

Welcome to Throwback Thursday!

This is my review (in retrospect) of Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh.

So in my uber-posh city “urban hiking” is an acceptable, non-lame hobby. I say acceptable, because it seems like something the next-road-aunties(TM) in India would do. Of course, it’s “acceptable” here, too. But it’s at least not out in the open? I’m rambling.

So basically, in urban hiking, you walk around the prettier parts of the city and admire rich people’s houses/gardens. And this process reminded me of Harriet the Spy.

Yes, that train of thought DID have a destination.

Harriet the Spy is a children’s novel about a young, possibly over-smart girl whose major hobby is ‘observing’ her neighbours- basically, spying on them through their blinds/skylights/assorted peepholes. She writes her opinions on them, and everyone else she knows, in a series of Books that she has painstakingly maintained since she was old enough to write. Shit hits the fan when her friend finds and reads the Book. Turns out people don’t like honesty.

The book is pretty interesting because it paints a clear portrait of her family and society- rich and kind of snobby. But Harriet herself is blissfully oblivious to everything but her little game. She is jolted out of her comfortable world when her nanny (finally) moves on.  And also when her class at school begins to ostracize her when they read her Book.

As far as children’s books go, this is pretty unique. It’s gritty and touches on topics that a preteen might not understand, let alone think about. As an adult, though, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re a fan of gloomy, uneventful books. But then again, maybe you are!


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