26. “Harriet the Spy”, Louise Fitzhugh

I read this book many times when I was little and I loved it. This time around, I was sort of depressed by the first chapter or two. Sport’s dad is clearly an alcoholic and is badly neglecting him. Worse, Harriet’s a rich, irritating ‘tween! Her journal entries are still precious, though, and I do rather like Janie (who aspires to blow up the world). I didn’t remember Harriet being so mean (“PINKY WHITEHEAD HASN’T CHANGED. PINKY WHITEHEAD WILL NEVER CHANGE.”), but her classmates were, awful, too. It all works out.

I WONDER IF I WILL GET ANY MURDER CASES. I WOULD HAVE TO HAVE A GUN AND FOLLOW PEOPLE BUT I BET IT WOULD BE AT NIGHT AND I WOULDN’T BE ALLOWED OUT.

“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?”
“Yes.”
Harriet went back to her notebook. (78)

[S]uddenly Harriet leaped to her feet as thought she’d just then remembered, and screamed, “I’ll be damned if I’ll go to dancing school.”
“Harriet!” Mrs. Welsch was appalled. “How dare you use words like that at the table.”
“Or an other place, dear,” interjected Mr. Welsch calmly.
“All right, I’ll be FINKED if I’ll go to dancing school.” Harriet stood and screamed this solidly. She was throwing a fit. She only threw fits as a last resort, so that even as she did it, she had a tiny feeling in the back of her brain that she had already lost. She wouldn’t, however, have it said that she went down without a try.
“Where in the world did you learn a word like that?” Mrs. Welsch’s eyebrows were raised almost to her hair line.
“It’s not a verb, anyway,” said Mr. Welsch. They both sat looking at Harriet as though she were a curiosity put on television to amuse them.

Pages: 320
Total: 14,707

Next up: “The Phantom Tollbooth”

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