Author: Fran Mason

I Learned Everything I Know from Harriet the Spy

Brick houses, courtyard apartments with trees and dirt in the yards, alleys, little grocery stores and bickering neighbors: This was my world, and it was Harriet the Spy’s world, too. Harriet, age eleven, was the first fictional girl I’d met who lived in a big city and didn’t exist just to act like a little lady. Instead, she followed her burning curiosity by spying on neighbors, and wrote her thoughts and plans in a private notebook. Harriet called it “working.”  “I will be a spy and know everything!” she declared. She learned more from peeking into the lives of shopkeepers, lonely old people and domestic workers than she did at school.  Harriet the Spy seemed to have been written just for me — a solitary, rough-and-tumble eight-year-old who saw herself as smart and adventurous, too. The book showed me a path.  “Mom,” I said, “I need a notebook.” I told her all about Harriet. My mom always liked my bright ideas, so she bought me a composition book on her next trip to the drugstore.  …