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Of Spies and Stars | #SoRatherBeYoung

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In mid-December, Hannah and I rolled out a laidback, sporadic reading project called “You Make Me Feel So Young” — where we joint read a book from our childhood and pick a title for the other to check out. This post includes the very scientific results to our first challenge.

Biggest realization: I thought I read fast but Hannah is a gold medalist.

Second realization: These are quite fun to read outloud. Since my husband is currently obsessed with this video game called Destiny, I made it feel like storytime by reading Harriet the Spy outloud. For the record, the name Ole Golly is repeated so much… (and I understand why for this age group) …that it started to sound like gibberish to me.

Third realization: Gosh, this is tons of fun.

Let’s get started, shall we?

♥  ♥  ♥

Harriet the Spy Summary in a Tweet

Joint pick: HARRIET THE SPY by Louise Fitzhugh | First published in 1964

More Than You Know:  Did you know that a companion book (Harriet Spies Again) was published in 2002 by Helen Ericson? She was granted permission by the Louise Fitzhugh estate to continue the series. (Fitzhugh died in 1974 from a brain aneurysm.)

Memories Are Made of This: I have a confession to make. I’m not even sure if I finished this book when I was a kid. Yes, I have a pretty beat up copy but…I barely remembered a thing and I’ve been known to have a great memory! Honestly, I probably know more about the Rosie O’Donnell film than the actual book.

Second Time Around: The reason I don’t think I read this one the whole way through is because I was floored by what a creep Harriet could be. She is just… not a nice kid. Sure, she gets very little attention from her parents and the amount of freedom she has in NYC as an 11-year old is astonishing. But, again, different world. I admired her for being so committed to her writing and for her loyalty toward Ole Golly. Most of the time I felt like she got the short end of the sick so while I don’t approve of her acting out… it made sense. (I hope she has a good therapist.)

You Can Take My Word for It, Baby: I’m not sold on this book being at the top of my reading list for my future child. (James agreed with me.) A book I might have them read when they are older but not when they are aligned to Harriet’s age. The reading experience needs to be more of a “ha ha wow” kind of thing, I think. (And even then, it’s a tad disturbing!)

Number the Stars Summary in a Tweet

Hannah’s pick for me: NUMBER THE STARS by Lois Lowry | First published in 1989

Do You Know Why? I knew I wanted to choose historical fiction for Estelle’s first read because it’s been my favorite genre ever since childhood. But what book to pick? As soon as I realized she hadn’t read Number the Stars, I knew it was the one! It’s a lifelong favorite for me – combining Lois Lowry’s lovely writing, a memorable heroine and an emotional story. I was hoping that this book would bring history alive for Estelle in the same way it once did for me! – from Hannah

Can’t You Just See Yourself: I cannot figure out why I did not read this one in elementary school or even early middle school. What a brave female character though and a brilliant romance in such a compact little book. I was tremendously moved by Annemarie’s story and the sacrifices and actions of her family as the Nazi’s turn their lives upside down. It also hits some subtle marks about dealing with grief within a family at a young age.

I Give You My Word: Unlike with Harriet, I wouldn’t think twice about having a copy of this book in my collection for a future child or sharing it with others who are building up a great bookcase. It’s an important book yes because it deals with overcoming adversity but it’s nice to see a young girl finding bravery she doesn’t even know she possesses and a devoted friendship.

Before the Music Ends: I wholeheartedly believe you should pick this one up… whether it’s to read it for the first time or to revisit. (I bought my copy on the Nook and it was so inexpensive.) In a world of very long, intense books, Lois Lowry’s writing is a reminder of how much can be conveyed in small packages.


 Have you read either of these lately? Do you remember the first time you did?

Thanks so much for taking part in #SoRatherBeYoung! Tweet & chat with us! We’re nice.

Stay tuned for our joint read Island of Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell in April… and some social media fun!

March 3, 2015 - 2:56 pm

Alexa S. - I seriously think this feature is so great! Love that ya’ll are highlighting titles from my childhood! While I remember being amused by Harriet the Spy as a child, I’m not quite sure how I’d feel about her now. I do recall the film really well though 🙂 And I haven’t read Number the Stars, but now I kind of want to!

February 28, 2015 - 9:01 am

It's a Wrap • Sayanara February (Best of February 2015) - […] #SoRatherBeYoung: Harriet the Spy and Number the Stars (and Hannah’s post too!) Little Kids: books to show/tell your children how much you love them Dive Into Diversity Discussion: Religion in YA Pub Date: Sorta Like a Love Story […]

February 26, 2015 - 1:09 pm

Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook - This is great project you two are doing. I’ve read both these books (I’m a children’s librarian – I’ve read tons of kids books) as an adult, and I actually really loved them both.

I know what you mean about Harriet being kind of a creepy. I think I remember my Children’s Lit Professor talking about how Harriet the Spy was kind of groundbreaking in children’s literature because it was one of the first times when the little kid wasn’t an angel. But I actually like that about Harriet. She felt very much like a kid. And I do think she learned her lesson from the whole experience. I hope, anyway!

And Number the Stars. Definitely a favorite book of mine!!! I recommend it a lot to kids.

February 26, 2015 - 10:52 am

Brianna - Two childhood favorites of mine. My copy of Number the Stars is well-worn. And you’re totally right about Harriet the Spy – she did have a lot of freedom for an 11 year old in NYC.

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