Harriet the Spy Movie Review

April 3rd, 2010 by

A while back, we reported the news that the Disney Channel would be making a movie based on the much-loved children’s book Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. What we should have said was that Disney would be taking the original story, twisting it all around like the world’s craziest pretzel, and stomping all over it with steel-toed boots — and then sweeping up the mess, throwing it out onto the street, and running it over with a monster truck. Yes, it was that bad.

Yeah, we know the trailer looks fun. And if you really want to, you can catch the movie when it reruns on the Disney Channel tomorrow night (April 4th) or Monday afternoon (April 5th). Watch it if you must. But you’ve been warned! And we’ve got plenty of proof — in the spirit of Harriet and her notebook, we documented our observations of the movie in real-time over IM.

Things seemed promising at the start as the setting and characters were introduced:

Karen: Okay, it’s starting!

Nancy: OK, I see the titles

Nancy: the city?

Karen: Manhattan!

Karen: The title!


Karen: YES!

Karen: I like how this really looks like NYC.

Karen: Hey, it’s the girl from Degrassi!

Karen: Hey, it’s another girl from Degrassi!

Nancy: “Sport” looks like JTT to me

Nancy: that’s former teen heartthrob Jonathon Taylor Thomas for all you non-old people out there

Karen: Since I’m an old person, I knew exactly who you meant. But I didn’t respond because I disagree.

See More…

Breaking Book News: New Harriet the Spy Movie

October 7th, 2009 by

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

In Louise Fitzhugh’s beloved book Harriet the Spy, the main character doesn’t hesitate to write down all her observations in a secret journal — no matter how mean or nasty. From her best friends to the neighbors, nobody escapes Harriet’s critical eye. So you can imagine the uproar at school when Harriet’s classmates discover the notebook. Let’s just say, they are NOT happy.

And neither am I. Not because someone’s been jotting down notes about how pathetic I am — at least, not that I know of! No, I’m displeased because I just heard that the Disney Channel is planning a TV movie based on Harriet the Spy, to air in 2010.

Now, you’d think that I’d be excited about that — and I was at first. But then I learned that they’re planning what they describe as a “contemporary interpretation.” And I’m all for updating the story for the 21st century (the original was written in 1964). But this new version sounds totally different from the book. Check out this description from the press release:

High schooler HARRIET “THE SPY” WELSCH is determined to become her class blogger. Competing against her nemesis — the very popular Marion Hawthorne — Harriet sets out to do whatever it takes for the honor. So when Harriet’s father, movie producer Roger Welsch signs a deal to make a sequel to the smash hit teen-musical, SPY HIGH, Harriet senses her perfect opportunity. Harriet, despite her disdain for him, decides to blog about Skander Hill, the movie’s popular teen heart-throb with hilariously catastrophic results!

Say what?! That doesn’t resemble the book at all! Well, her name is the same anyway…

Here’s the thing: I loooooooove Disney Channel original movies. And I’m not just talking the super popular High School Musical. I mean, I’ve watched Stuck in the Suburbs and Eddie’s Million Dollar Cook-Off several times each, so you know I’m serious. And this movie sounds like exactly the kind of thing I’d enjoy if it were just some totally new film. But when you say it’s based on Harriet the Spy, then I expect it to be, you know, actually based on the book.

Of course, this is a really short summary of the movie, so maybe I’m totally off base and it’s going to be much closer to the original than I imagine. Or, even if not, maybe it will still be awesome (I mean, seriously, a spy musical — what could be better?). I guess it’s too early to tell… You’ll just have to check back sometime in 2010 for my review!

Btw, I’m sure you all know that there was already a film adaptation of Harriet the Spy released in 1996, starring Michelle Trachtenberg as Harriet. I never did watch that version, but it seems like it’s more faithful to the book. Anyone out there seen it? Leave me a comment!

— Karen

Sincerely, Guess Who…

October 4th, 2009 by

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Last night as I was walking home, I noticed a slip of paper lying on the ground under a tree. At first I thought it was a postcard, but when I saw another identical paper a few feet away, I looked closer and realized it was a bunch of promotional fliers for a restaurant.

Too bad. For a split second, I had entertained the notion that it was a series of postcards, deliberately left in a trail along the sidewalk for a specific person to find. Wouldn’t that have been much more exciting than the plain old litter it turned out to be?

I guess I’m just under the influence of When You Reach Me, a new novel by Rebecca Stead that I read last week. In the book, sixth-grader Miranda starts receiving mysterious messages from a stranger who seems to know the future — and I stayed up WAY past my bedtime to finish the whole thing and discover the end of the story.

Spiderweb for Two by Elizabeth Enright (Don't be turned off by this baby-ish cover; this book is AWESOME!)

Spiderweb for Two by Elizabeth Enright (Don't be turned off by this baby-ish cover; this book is AWESOME!)

Funnily enough, I also just bought myself a copy of another book involving anonymous messages — Spiderweb for Two: A Melendy Maze, a childhood favorite of mine by Elizabeth Enright. It’s the last book in a series about the Melendy family, but I read it first and it’s still the installment that I love the best. In it, Randy and Oliver are feeling lonely after their older siblings all leave home for school. But things change in an instant when they receive a surprise message from an anonymous source, leading them on a treasure hunt via more mysterious notes and clues.

So, who’s behind all these strange notes? In the case of When You Reach Me, I figured out the sender partway through the book — but I was stumped as to why, up until the dramatic ending. With Spiderweb for Two, I couldn’t even begin to guess who the messages were from — but I loved following along with Randy and Oliver as they pieced together each new puzzle.

Now I’m wondering: is it just a coincidence that I got my hands on these two books in the same week? Could it be a sign? Maybe I myself will soon receive notes from a stranger…

Or, hey, if you guys leave me some comments on this post, then I guess those would count! Not quite as mysterious and thrilling as what I had in mind, but I’ll take it! Especially if guys have any recommendations for other children’s books about characters who get messages from mysterious sources. The only other one I can think of is The Long Secret by Louise Fitzhugh — a kind of sequel to Harriet the Spy in which someone starts leaving disturbing notes for various town residents. But that’s not quite the same idea. Although, if I stumble across of copy of The Long Secret in the next few days, then I’ll know something is really up with the universe and I have an adventure in store!

— Karen