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Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter

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Reviewed by Nancy Young

I am a bit defensive about Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter. Perhaps it is the beautiful, antique cloth-bound volume my father proudly brought home to me when I was a little girl. Perhaps it is the pressed and faded four-leaf clover that I found tucked inside, or the tissue-thin page-protectors over the black-and-white illustrations. (I wish I had been more defensive of the actual book because these latter features no longer exist.) Perhaps it is because through that copy I began an appreciation of things that were aged, gentle and lengthy, rather than colorful, slick, and new. Or perhaps it is simply that Life has taught me that playing the glad game takes amazing skill, faith, and courage.

The story is well-traveled; however, "what do they know of Pollyanna, who only Disney know?" is an illuminating question. I wince a little when someone flippantly refers to a "Pollyanna attitude" as something wantonly naïve, or the result of an emotional lobotomy. I always wonder if they've ever actually read the book.

While it is certainly exuberant, and not without sentimentality -- I have to do some quick verbal editing when I read aloud because such phrases as "Aunt Polly, I simply love, love, love, love you!" do not fall naturally from my lips -- one "love" is sufficient to carry the thought. It is a delightful premise told in an engaging way. The changes Pollyanna instigates in a stuffy New England town are gentle and gradual. The conclusion is sweet and thorough. It provides a real uplift and can leave a family feeling a bit more kindly and grateful. And perhaps that's what I like most about it.

Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter is featured in Vol 7 No 3 of The Storybook Home Journal.

Tags: Vol. 7 No. 3, 2010, Book reviews

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