Feast on Fiction: Harriet the Spy
August 10th, 2011
08:00 PM ET
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Apropos of our post on the Tomato and Mayonnaise Sandwich - A.K.A. The Finest Sandwich in the Known Universe, we present some passages from Louise Fitzhugh's 1964 'Harriet the Spy'.

"There is nothing that makes me sicker than watching Harriet M. Welsch eat a tomato sandwich. Pinky Whitehead"

When she picked up her lunch the bag felt very light. She reached inside and there was only crumpled paper. They had taken her tomato sandwich. They had taken her tomato sandwich. Someone had taken it. She couldn't get over it. This was completely against the rules of the school. No one was supposed to steal your tomato sandwich. She had been coming to this school since she was four - let's see, that made seven years and in all those seven years no one had ever taken her tomato sandwich.

Not even during those six months where she had brought pickle sandwiches with mustard. No one had asked for so much as a bite. Sometimes Beth Ellen passed around olives because no one else had olives and they were very chic, but that was the extent of the sharing, and now here it was noon and she had nothing to eat.

She was aghast. What could she do? It would be ridiculous to go around asking "Has anyone seen a tomato sandwich?" They were sure to laugh. She would go to Miss Elson. No, then she would be a ratter, a squealer, a stoolie. Well, she couldn't starve. She went to the telephone and asked to use it because she had forgotten her lunch. She called and the cook told her to come home, that she would make another tomato sandwich in the meantime.

Harriet went home, ate her tomato sandwich, and took to her bed for another day. She had to think. Her mother was playing bridge downtown. She pretended to be sick enough so the cook didn't yell at her, and yet not sick enough for the cook to call her mother. She had to think.

As she lay there in the half gloom she looked out over the trees in the park. For a while, she watched a bird, then an old man who walked like a drunk. Inside, she felt herself thinking, "Everybody hates me, everybody hates me."

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Filed under: Books • Feast on Fiction • Tomatoes

soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Harry Pothead

    Anyone who would steal a kid's tomato sandwich needs to be soundly beaten. Often and by someone who knows how.

    August 11, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  2. beewatching

    I remember the Harriet the Spy books fondly.

    August 11, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  3. beenz

    I read Harriet for the 1st time as a 4th grader, and I think I've read it about 10 times since. Love the book!

    August 11, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  4. Truth

    I have to say, children's literature is often better than that which is aimed at adults...If you don't believe me, pick up a copy of "Stuart Little", "The Cay" or "The Slave Dancer". Good stuff there.

    August 11, 2011 at 8:44 am |
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