Happy 50th birthday, Harriet the Spy!

Today Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy, one of my all-time favorite books, turned 50 years old. In celebration, I wrote an article about the book and its creator for Al Jazeera America.

Harriet cover

An excerpt from the article:

I always scoff at children’s books that try too hard to shove morals down readers’ throats. Children are too smart for that. And that’s something else that made Fitzhugh one of the greatest writers of the genre. She wasn’t trying to teach kids to be good. She was just telling a story. There are many ways in which Harriet and her friends never learn their lesson, which made the book controversial when it was first published and has led to its banning in school systems since then. Consider, for example, this exchange:

“Hey Janie, if you were going to slit somebody’s throat, wouldn’t you do it in the dead of night?”

“I’d poison them.” Janie didn’t even turn around.

I bet you would, thought Harriet. “But, Janie, they’d just trace the poison.”

“Not the one I’ve got.”

“Did you make a new one?”


You can read the rest of the piece here: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/2/25/harriet-the-spy-turns50.html.

Happy birthday, Harriet!