NPR's "Morning Edition" ran a segment this morning on what a groundbreaking work of young adult fiction Harriet the Spy was when it debuted in 1964. According to NPR correspondent Neva Grant, heroine Harriet M. Welsch was considered controversial because "Harriet saw too much, said too much. She even had to see a psychiatrist." Some schools banned the book, explains Grant, and some critics hated it, but readers, especially those who felt that they were outside the mainstream, appreciated that Harriet loved herself, disheveled hair and all. (You can get some more Harriet love in last Friday's Fine Lines column). Readers like Kathleen Horning, now a librarian in Wisconsin, liked the fact that Harriet was a tomboy who, unlike many 50s and 60s heroines, didn't have to go through a girlified redemption by the end of the book. In fact, as Grant reports, like Harriet, Horning was a "tomboy who didn't want to reform." Later on, Horning realized she was a lesbian.
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