Lynne Kelly, Author of CHAINED, Talks HARRIET THE SPY

20 Mar

Today on the blog Lynne Kelley, author of CHAINED, which comes out on May 8, 2012, stops by to write about HARRIET THE SPY. Here’s a little more information about CHAINED:

After ten-year-old Hastin’s family borrows money to pay for his sister’s hospital bill, he leaves his village in northern India to take a job as an elephant keeper and work off the debt. He thinks it will be an adventure, but he isn’t prepared for the cruel circus owner. The crowds that come to the circus see a lively animal who plays soccer and balances on milk bottles, but Hastin sees Nandita, a sweet elephant and his best friend, who is chained when she’s not performing and hurt with a hook until she learns tricks perfectly. Hastin protects Nandita as best as he can, knowing that the only way they will both survive is if he can find a way for them to escape.

Lynne shares one of my favorite female adventurers of all time–Miss Harriet, of HARRIET THE SPY. Read on to learn why she loves the mischievous young spy so:

I’m not sure how often I checked out Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy from my school library, but I know my name was written on that check-out card a few times. I didn’t just want to be friends with Harriet Welsch, I wanted to be Harriet. If you lived in my neighborhood, I might have been standing outside your wooden fence, eavesdropping on your back yard conversations. (Sorry about that. It’s just business, you understand.) Like Harriet, I carried around a notebook with me and sometimes jotted down important notes about people I observed driving by, like “Bald man driving brown car. Looks suspicious.” Of course the man might have looked suspicious because of the weird girl standing there furiously scribbling notes while staring at him, but that’s beside the point.

I never knew this while reading it, but the book was considered controversial when it was first published. Harriet wasn’t well-behaved. She had flaws. But that’s probably why we loved her; we know that we’re not perfect ourselves, so it’s refreshing to find out we’re not alone. Even better, Harriet was okay with not being perfect. What a relief for anyone who’s ever felt excluded, different, or who’s said the wrong thing (and isn’t that everyone?).
Harriet wasn’t afraid to admit when she didn’t have the answers. She didn’t pretend to know things she didn’t; that takes confidence, and made her a better writer, since we can’t satisfy our curiosity if we don’t voice our questions and take time to listen to the answers.

So I still identify with Harriet Welsch, who no doubt grew up to be a writer. Isn’t that what writers do, take notes on everything we observe around us? And whether it’s a journal entry, an unedited manuscript, or an accidental “reply all” email, I’m sure everyone’s experienced the horror of having people read something not meant for public eyes, like when Harriet’s classmates found her notebook. Harriet got into some trouble for being nosy then, but it wasn’t nosiness that made her write down her observations. She just wanted to know everything. What she didn’t know yet, she’d make up a great story for.
I still carry notebooks around with me in case I see or hear something I just have to write about. But don’t worry–I’m not listening at the fence anymore. Unless I really, really need to know what’s going on over there.

We talked about our favorite spy on the blog here, so I thought that, instead of sharing a pic of the book cover, I’d include the trailer for the Harriet the Spy movie (which I loved if only because it included a teeny little pre-Buffy Michelle Trachtenburg.) Enjoy!

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One Response to “Lynne Kelly, Author of CHAINED, Talks HARRIET THE SPY”

  1. Laurisa Reyes March 20, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

    I’ve had my eye on this book for a while now. I’m going to have to bite the bullet and read it. Sounds great.

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