"Harriett the Spy" was my very favorite book when I was in the 4th grade, and reading it inspired me to begin writing in my diary. I started writing sporadically in the 4th grade, but in the middle of the 6th grade the habit stuck, and I have not missed a day for the past 42 years. ( Thats a lot of diaries!)
I just reread this book, and was struck by how outdated it is. It was written in 1964, and kids these days would have a very difficult time relating to it.
First, Harriett has complete freedom to roam all over New York City by herself. No kidnappers or child molesters or crime to worry about.
Second, she has a full time nanny and cook, and so do all her friends.
Third, television. Here is just a random paragraph from the book:
Ole Golly said "I thought we might sit down here in the kitchen and play a game of checkers."
Harriett: "In the kitchen? But we always watch television when we play checkers....There isn't any television down here."
Oh yes, that reminded me of way back when each family only owned one TV. How quaint that a wealthy family like Harriet's (remember they have a nanny and a cook) don't even have a TV in the kitchen.
(Remember the Monkees song "Pleasant Valley Sunday", some of the lyrics pointed out the unusual fact about Mr. Green: "Mr. Green, he's so serene, he's got a TV in every room".) The first people I knew who had several TV's were Wayne's Aunt Carol and Uncle Gary, and we definitely thought they were rich. They also had a TV in the kitchen, which was a brand new idea for me. But I have mostly watched TV in the kitchen ever since.
Fourth, here is how they decided what movie to see.
(Ole Golly and boyfriend decide to take Harriet to the movies.) "Oh, boy," said Harriet and jumped up from the table. "I'll go get the paper and see what's playing." She ran upstairs to the library and went through the paper thoroughly. She was torn between a spooky (movie) and a spectacular about the Greek gods..she decided to choose the latter. Anyway, it was in color."
It struck me that when I was a child we DID have to get a newspaper to find out what was on at the movie theater. But when I was a newlywed, we started calling the theater's phone line and there would be a constant loop playing a message, listing all the movies. Of course, later when the internet was invented, we just look online. It has been years since I thought about those other methods.
But the added shock was that, yes, I can also remember when some movies were more special than others because they were in COLOR.
Rereading that book made me feel like I grew up in the stone age.