Harriet Spies Again by Helen Ericson

Genre: Middle grade fiction
CW: tricky families
Rep: autism coding

I have divided feelings about this book. At first, I was happy to discover more Harriet the Spy books. Where were these when I was a kid, I wondered. But when I started reading, I discovered two things: First, all the books after the original Harriet the Spy, which was written in the 1960s, were written in 2002 or later, and they were written by a different author. While Helen Ericson holds true to the original story by Louise Fitzhugh, I didn’t think this book was quite as good. I questioned her choice to write out Jainie, one of Harriet’s best friends, and instead add in the strange Annie Smith, a compulsive liar in desperate need of therapy.

I found most of the twists in this book to be a let down, but then again it is intended for a much younger audience. I just felt that they were extremely obvious, and it was a betrayal to Harriet’s observant mind to miss so many obvious clues.

Ericson did, however, do a very good job of blending the new series into the feel of the older one. It wasn’t until I was several chapters in that I realized the author was different, or that this book was much more recent. There’s no mention of cell phones or modern technology, but neither does the story feel old fashioned. It has a “timeless” quality that matches the original, and that I really appreciated.

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