I like to go through my DVD collection to find fun movies which I can share with my younger nieces and nephews. Usually the movie is before their time, so for them it’s a new movie and for me it’s a walk down memory lane. Harriet the Spy is one such movie. It was released in 1996 and quickly became a favorite of my then grade schoolers who must have watched the video every weekend. Even now as college students they still consider it to be one of their favorite films which is why I purchased the DVD (upgrading from the old, worn video).
Harriett M. Welsch is an eleven year old aspiring writer/reporter and a practiced spy. She spends her days spying on people in nearby neighborhoods and writing the details of her findings in her special notebook. On her spy route she visits a diverse group of people including a bachelor with an unusually large number of cats, an Italian family that runs a local grocery store and their delivery man who is stealing food. She sees them in their private moments and is very astute in her analytical written observations. She also makes the same insightful and honest comments in her notebook about her friends and classmates. The remarks may be true but they are also hurtful as Harriet finds out when her notebook is taken and her private thoughts are made public.
After her classmates discover what she really thinks about them, Harriet is completely shunned by all of them, including her best friends Janie and Sport. Upset over being rejected, Harriet first turns to revenge. She carries out a series of trouble making acts which lands her in more trouble and fails to get her friends back. Learning how powerful words can be, she knows she must find a way to make things right for everyone. To do so, she turns to what she does best – writing.
Harriet the Spy is a good family movie not just because of its entertainment value but also because of the lessons young kids can learn from Harriet such as: words can hurt as well as heal, friends shouldn’t be taken for granted and spying, no matter how much fun, really is an invasion of privacy.
** Harriet the Spy is based on the book of the same name written by Louise Fitzhugh and originally published in 1964. The movie is rated PG