Harriet the Spy
The story of a girl whose passion for honesty gets her into trouble. Followed by The Long Secret.
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Harriet the Spy is the story of an eleven-year old girl who aspires to become a writer and a spy. She carefully observes others and writes about them in her notebook. Harriet lives in the upper East side of Manhattan, in New York City. As you read the story, think about how the chapters fit together to provide the structure. The video link below will explain the concept of structure. (This annotation contains a video)
A filling station is a gas station.
The highlighted passage reveals which of the following character traits of Sport?
This is an image of moss, a small flowerless green plant that lacks true roots, growing in low areas. (This annotation contains an image)
Tweed is a coarse woolen fabric used for clothing. (This annotation contains an image)
What role does Ole Golly play in Harriet's life?
Read the highlighted passage from Harriet's spy journal. Describe a personality trait that can be inferred about Harriet based on her writing. Include a phrase or quote from the passage to support your answer.
What was Ole Golly's purpose in showing her mother's house to Harriet?
Henry James was an American writer who spent the bulk of his career in Britain. He is regarded as one of the key figures of 19th-century literary realism, which depicts contemporary life and society as it was, or is. Realist authors opted for depictions of everyday activities and experiences, instead of romanticized ones. As you read Harriet the Spy, look for elements of realism in the story.
Compare and contrast Ole Golly and her mother. Cite examples from the text when discussing their similarities and differences.
What does the phrase, "took to" mean?
This image shows what chrysanthemum flowers looks like. (This annotation contains an image)
What can you infer about Harriet based on her lunch choice?
As you read this page, think about how you feel on the first day of school. Do you feel...excited? nervous? anxious? indifferent? How do your feelings compare to Harriet's?
Every story is told by a narrator, and some stories have more than one. Every story also has a point of view, the perspective from which a story is told. There are two main types of point of view. First Person: The narrator uses first person pronouns such as "I," "me," and "my" to tell the story. The narrator is a character in the story. Third Person: The narrator uses third person pronouns such as "he," "she," "they," etc. The narrator is an observer telling you what is happening in the story. Harriet the Spy is told from two different points of view, both first person and third person. As you read, look for examples of both of these types of point of view.
Which of Harriet's classmates do you find to be the most interesting and why?
As you read, think about how the narrator's point of view influences how events are described. For example, how would you describe the tone of Harriet's spy journal notes?
The theme of gender roles and gender stereotypes is evident in Harriet the Spy. As you read, think about this theme. Do Harriet, Sport, and Janie reflect stereotypical gender roles? For example, are Janie and Harriet feminine and into girly things?
What did the cook mean when she screamed to Harriet, "Like a missile you are, shot from the school?"
Aesop was an Ancient Greek story teller credited with a number of fables, now collectively known as Aesop's Fables. A fable is short story that conveys a moral.
The highlighted text is an example of how gender roles are portrayed in the story. Which of the following best describes how Harriet is portrayed in the passage?
What is meant by the phrase, "a man of considerable means?"
A dumbwaiter is a small elevator used for moving food and tableware between floors of a building. (This annotation contains an image)
Do you think Harriet puts herself in danger on her spy missions? Why or why not?
An egg cream is a beverage consisting of milk and soda water, as well as vanilla or chocolate syrup. Have you ever had an egg cream to drink? (This annotation contains an image)
What can you infer about Sport's relationship with his father?
Harriet's room was described in chapter two, and now Sport's room is described in chapter three. Are their rooms similar or different? Think about what their rooms tell you about their personalities.
Which of the following adjectives could be used to describe Sport?
Which of the following is a theme in Harriet the Spy?
The term "starving artist" or "starving writer" refers to someone in an artistic career who sacrifices a good salary to focus on their artwork. They tend to get by on a low income because they have been unable to sell their projects or they spend all of their extra money on art projects.
What can you infer about Fabio Dei Santi?
How would you describe the tone of many of Harriet's spy journal writings?
The theme of social class is once again represented by the description of the poor children who do not have enough to eat. Think about how their lifestyle contrasts with Harriet's.
Why did Harriet feel funny watching the scene of Little Joe giving food to the poor children?
How do you think Harriet felt when she found out that Ole Golly had a boyfriend? Why do you think Harriet was so surprised by this? Support your answer with examples from the text.
The phrase "all that jack" means that someone has a lot of money.
Why do the Robinsons think they have a perfect life?
As you read the names of Harrison Withers's cats, do you notice the names of anyone famous? Do you think that Harrison is a baseball fan? Why?
Why do you think Harrison Withers is happy?
The character of Janie exhibits the theme of gender role stereotypes. Janie is a scientist and she likes to blow things up. Are those traits typically masculine or feminine?
Compare and contrast the character traits of Janie and Harriet. In what ways are they alike and different? Why do you think they are good friends?
Harriet is usually very brave, but she is frightened of Janie's lab. Do you think the lab is frightening?
In what way is Janie eccentric?
The phrase, "Newton learning the Charleston" refers to Sir Isaac Newton, a mathematician and physicist, learning a popular dance from the 1920's.
Why do the mothers of Harriet and Janie want their daughters to go to dance school?
A colloquy is a formal conversation. What do you think Janie's parents were saying?
Why does Harriet feel that she must throw a tantrum to gain the attention of her parents?
Guerrilla fighting is a military operation conducted by non-military forces.
Mata Hari was a beautiful Dutch dancer and secret agent. She worked for both French and German intelligence. (This annotation contains an image)
How did Old Golly convince Harriet to go to dance school?
Harriet reluctantly agreed to go to dance school. Have your parents ever made you take lessons that you did not want to take? How did you feel? After taking the lessons, did you discover that it was as as bad as you thought it would be? Did you end up enjoying it? Do you think Harriet will like dance lessons once she gives it a try?
Since Harriet wants to be a writer, why does she not want to write for the school paper?
The theme of parent and child relationships is evident in the story. Harriet's relationship with her parents is important, as well as the relationship between Sport and his father, Janie and her mother, Old Golly and her mother, the Dei Santi family, etc. How do you think Harriet feels when her parents go out and she has to stay with the cook?
Which adjective best decribes how Harriet feels when her parents and Ole Golly go out at night?
Washington Square is a park in lower Manhattan and a focal point in Greenwich Village. (This annotation contains an image)
How does Ole Golly feel about her boyfriend?
A wurst is German or Austrian sausage. Have you ever eaten one? (This annotation contains an image)
Explain why Harriet was shocked by Ole Golly's behavior while she was on her date. Include examples from the text to support your answer.
After she follows Ole Golly on her date, Harriet has a lot of questions for her mother about love and marriage. Why do you think Harriet is concerned with this topic?
What is meant by the phrase, "The silence upstairs was deafening?"
When Harriet asks Ole Golly questions, Ole Golly answers using famous quotes. What are some of your favorite quotes? Can you think of a quote that applies to Harriet's life?
What is meant by the phrase, "white tie and tails?"
Choucroute garnie refers to a French recipe for preparing sauerkraut with sausages, other salted meats, or potatoes. It is a traditionally German and Eastern European dish.
Before you continue reading, make a prediction as to who could be at the door.
Why is Harriet sending nasty looks to Mr. Waldenstein?
Why is Harriet feeling relieved?
The phrase "conquered the enemy" means that Mr. Waldenstein feels like he has made a breakthrough with Harriet and now they can be friends.
Why do you think that Harriet suddenly liked Mr. Waldenstein? Cite evidence from the text to support your answer.
Mr. Waldenstein's life story exhibits the theme of social class. When Mr. Waldenstein was wealthy, he was very unhappy. What message about wealth do you think the author is trying to promote?
Why does Harriet feel that Mr. Waldenstein deserves something?
Apollo is a Greek mythological god, associated with music, poetry and medicine. Athena is a Greek mythological goddess, associated with wisdom, crafts and warfare.
A delivery bike has a box attached to it, for the delivery person to carry the goods he or she is delivering. Harriet is riding in the box. Do you think it would be fun to ride in the box on a delivery bike? (This annotation contains an image)
What is meant by the phrase, "precious bundles?"
Paul Newman was a famous actor, and you may also have seen his face on a variety of food products at the grocery store. Do you recognize his picture? (This annotation contains an image)
Are you surprised that Mr. and Mrs. Welsch are so upset at Ole Golly?
Do you think that Mr. and Mrs. Welsch will follow through with their plans to fire Ole Golly? Why or why not?
What is meant by the the phrase, "His voice spread over like butter on a burn?"
The term, "about face" refers to a reversal of attitude, behavior, or point of view. Can you think of a time when you quickly changed your attitude about something?
Do you think that Harriet is mature enough to take care of herself? Why or why not? Cite examples from the text to support your opinion.
The quote "The time has come...." is a quote from The Walrus and the Carpenter, a poem by Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland. Are you familiar with the story of Alice in Wonderland? Is it the same genre as Harriet the Spy?
How does Ole Golly want Harriet to respond to the challenge of losing her beloved nanny?
Harriet's notes on her feelings about Ole Golly's departure are examples of imagery. Her words paint a vivid picture of her pain. Have you ever felt this way? How do you think Harriet will cope with this loss?
Now that you have finished reading Book One, how do you feel about Harriet? Is she someone you would want to be friends with? Why or why not?
Have you ever played the game Monopoly? If so, do you enjoy this game? What board games do you like to play? Do you think Harriet would like the same board games that you do?
What can you infer about Harriet based on the fact that she does not like to watch kids' television programs?
How do you feel about math? Do you enjoy it or do you dislike it like Harriet? Is it easy for you or difficult?
How is it possible that Harriet did not know that her mother liked math?
Harriet is feeling sad and lost since Ole Golly left. What can Harriet do to deal with this challenge? Do you think it will take a long time for her to get over this loss?
Dr. Kildare and Ben Casey were popular TV shows in the 1960's.
Why did Harriet and Simon go along with Marion's suggestion?
Which of the pageant ideas would you have voted for?
What is meant by the phrase, "tee me off?"
Biarritz is a seaside resort in southwestern France. (This annotation contains an image)
Do you think Harriet reacted appropriately by refusing to be an onion? Why or why not?
Fifth position is a way to position the feet when dancing ballet. One foot is placed in front of, and in contact with the other, with the heel of one foot aligned with the toe of the other foot. There are two fifth positions, depending on which foot is in front. (This annotation contains an image)
Tulle is a soft, silk, or nylon net-like material, used for making veils and dresses. (This annotation contains an image)
Harriet is very upset about the Christmas pageant. If Ole Golly were around, Harriet would tell her how she feels and Ole Golly would give her advice. What advice do you think Ole Golly would give to Harriet to help her deal with her negative attitude toward the pageant?
Make a prediction before you continue reading. What do you think is in the crate?
The term, "firmanent," means the sky, so Mrs. Robinson is equating the sculptor to a shining star or a superstar of sculpting.
Why was Harriet feeling rage?
What does "the customers stood around like frozen food," mean?
Both Ole Golly and Little Joe have been fired from their jobs. Do you think they deserve to be fired?
How does Papa Dei Santi feel when he learns that Fabio has been working at a sales job?
The theme of the loss is evident in the story. Harriet lost her beloved Ole Golly and Harrison Withers lost his beloved cats. Do you think that Harriet and Harrison share a similar feeling of loss?
Why is Harriet feeling grumpy at the beginning of Chapter 9? Include quotes from the previous chapter to support your answer.
Stanislansky was a Russian actor, director and producer. Why do you think that Mr. Welsch is familiar with Stanislavsky?
Harriet wrote that she looks a little like an onion. Think about what Harriet looks like and describe how she might look like an onion.
How do Mr. and Mrs. Welsch feel when they realize they do not know their daughter very well?
"Sotto voce" means in a soft voice as to not be overheard.
The incident of Harriet getting caught spying from the dumbwaiter was a first for her. Do you think she will continue to spy on Mrs. Plumber?
How does Harriet feel after getting caught spying?
What did Janie mean when she said, "what a pill she was today," in reference to Harriet?
Do you think that Harriet's dream is a indication that something bad is going to happen?
The video clip explains the concept of protagonist and antagonist. As you read this chapter, think about the character(s) that could be considered as Harriet's antagonists. (This annotation contains a video)
How does Harriet feel when her notebook is missing?
How do you feel about Harriet right now? Do you feel sorry for her or do you think she is getting what she deserves for spying on her classmates?
Harriet has a big problem on her hands since her classmates read the mean things she wrote about them. What do you think Harriet can do to fix this problem?
One good thing has come from Harriet's classmates reading her notebook. Now they have gotten to know and like the new boy, Peter. Do you think he feels happy that Harriet wrote about his socks?
Do you think Harriet should continue to spy on her classmates and write about them in the new notebook? Why or why not?
Why does Harriet feel better after writing in her new notebook?
How do you think Harriet feels now that her classmates are writing mean notes about her? Do you think she will stop writing mean things about others now that she knows how it feels?
Why is Harriet considering changing her routine by bringing a ham sandwich instead of a tomato sandwich?
Think about a time when you have had a disagreement with your friends. How did you feel? What advice would you give to Harriet?
Do you think that Janie and Sport will ever forgive Harriet? Do you think they should forgive her or not? Why?
The highlighted text exhibits the theme of parent and child relationships. Do you think that Harriet is growing closer to her mother now that Ole Golly is gone?
Which adjective describes how Harriet feels in Chapter ten?
An esplanade is an open walkway, usually along a river or large body of water. The image below shows an esplanade in New York City. (This annotation contains an image)
Harriet is the protagonist in the story. Which of the following characters could be characterized as an antagonist?
Harriet imagines that her walk into school is like walking to her own execution. Do you feel sorry for her? If you were one of her classmates would you forgive her or continue to torment her?
Why do you think that Harriet wrote ,"I love myself," in her notebook? Include quotes from the text to support your answer.
Why did the sight of the purple socks make Harriet feel afraid?
The term, delusions of grandeur, means a false sense of one's own importance. Do you think Janie's comment about Harriet is true?
Why did Harriet write the letter to Mrs. Hennessey?
Why do you suppose that Harriet was so surprised that Janie thew a spitball at her?
What is meant by the phrase, "If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you?" How does this quote relate to Harriet's situation?
Harriet said mean things about her classmates in her notebook, but now her classmates are doing mean things to her...(throwing spitballs at her, spilling ink on her, stealing her sandwich, etc.) Do you think the act of doing something mean to someone is worse than simply saying something mean? Who do you sympathize with in this situation?
How does the cook feel about Harriet?
The Sistine Chapel is a large chapel in the Vatican City in Italy. It is renowned for its Renaissance art, especially the ceiling painted by Michelangelo. (This annotation contains an image)
How is Harriet feeling at the end of Chapter Eleven?
Before you continue reading Chapter 12, make a prediction about what you think Harriet is going to do, now that she is aware of The Spy Catcher Club.
What do you think Ole Golly would say about Harriet's classmates forming a Spy Catcher club? What advice do you think she would give to Harriet?
A memoir is an autobiographical or biographical story of memories. Have you ever written a memoir? Have you read a memoir of a famous person?
Why is Harriet not doing her school work?
Harriet comparing school to a "moon that she had been to once," is an example of imagery. What images come to mind when you read this?
How do you think Harriet will react to the challenge of not being able to write in her notebook? What do you think she will do?
How did Harriet feel when Miss Elson searched for the notebook while the class was watching?
The highlighted paragraph is full of imagery. What comes to mind when the author described Harriet as owl-eyed? When Harriet felt her "thoughts limping like crippled children," were thoughts coming to her quickly or slowly? If she is moving like a robot, how is she moving?
Why is Harriet doing mean things to her classmates?
Harriet the Spy contains pictures of the characters in every chapter. Think about how the pictures help you to better understand the story.
Read the highlighted paragraph. How did Harriet feel when she finally got her notebook back? Why does Harriet feel like she is changing?
Are you surprised that Harriet is actually doing mean things to her classmates instead of just writing about them? Do you think Harriet will get in more trouble for this?
Harriet's behavior in this chapter could be described as__________.
When Ole Golly left, the cook was responsible for tending to Harriet. Compare and contrast how Ole Golly and the cook interact with Harriet. Cite examples from the text to support your explanation.
Have you ever been so angry and frustrated that you've acted out at home and/or school? Can you relate to Harriet's feelings of distress? What advice would you give her?
If you were Harriet's parents what would you do to correct her behavior? How can Mr. and Mrs. Welsch help Harriet feel better so she stops acting out?
What did Mr. Welsch mean when he said Harriet will get a "whaling?"
The term "newfangled" means different from what one is used to. What "newfangled" ideas do you think Harriet's father is referring to?
What kind of Doctor is Harriet going to see?
A spinet is a smaller type of harpsichord or other keyboard instrument, such as a piano or organ. (This annotation contains an image)
How are Harriet and Dr. Wagner alike?
Harriet referred to Dr. Wagner as "batty," which means crazy. Why does Harriet think he is crazy? Do you agree or disagree with her?
Do you think Harriet should go see Sport and Janie and attempt to make up with them? Why or why not?
Harriet did not get a warm welcome when she went to see Janie. Do you think Sport will be unfriendly as well? Make a prediction about how you think Sport will react to Harriet's visit.
How did Sport behave when Harriet came to see him?
Now that you have reached the end of Book Two, how do you feel about Harriet? Do you like her or dislike her? Would you want to be friends with her?
How did Mr. Welsch feel when Dr. Wagner told him that Harriet is all right and does not have any psychological problems?
Who do you think Mrs. Welsch is going to write a letter to? Make a prediction.
Why do you think Harriet is feeling happy? Support your answer with quotes from the text.
Mahjong is a Chinese game played with rectangular tiles. The object is to collect winning sets of these tiles. Have you ever played Mahjong? (This annotation contains an image)
The theme of social class is evident in the paragraphs about Marion's club. She wants it to be like a country club and only certain people can be members. Therefore, it will be an "upper class" club.
What did Harriet mean when she wrote that Marion is "too big for her britches?"
Who do you think the letter is from? Make a prediction.
Read the highlighted sentences in Ole Golly's letter. What do you think they mean? Explain how this is good advice for Harriet.
Why did Harriet make up the story about Harrison Withers finding a cat?
What do you think Harriet's parents were talking to the principal about?
Why did Miss Elson have the class take a vote on whether or not Harriet and Beth Ellen should be editors?
Since Sport and Janie voted for Harriet do you think it means that they have forgiven her? Do you predict that they will become friends again?
Are you surprised that Harriet is writing about her spy route in the school paper? Are you surprised that she is writing honestly, and some of the things she is writing about others are not nice?
What can you infer about Harriet's writings in the school paper?
As you read the paragraphs where Mrs. Welsch is describing Mabel Gibbs and Milly Andrews, who does she remind you of? Does her gossip remind you of Harriet's spy notes? Do you think Harriet takes after her mother?
Which if following statements is true about Harriet, based on her articles in the school paper?
A Gestapo agent was the official secret police of Nazi Germany and German-occupied Europe.
How are Marion and Rachel alike?
Why do you think Harriet feels sorry for Marion and Rachel? Have you ever felt sorry for someone who was unkind to you?
Why did Harriet apologize in the school paper?
The highlighted sentence is very revealing. When Harriet wrote her retraction statement in the school paper, she stated that the things she wrote about her classmates in her notebook were lies. What does this statement reveal?
Compare and contrast the character of Harriet at the beginning of the story and at the end of the story. How is she the same and how is she different?