Friday, August 7, 2015

By Eleanor H. Porter

The name Pollyanna has become synonymous with an overly-cheerful person, but the original story isn't nearly as irksome as the name's conotations suggest. I was completely charmed by this book. A few years ago I read Heidi and the main character came across as saccharine sweet and far too optimistic. So despite growing up with two separate film versions of Pollyanna (including the famous Hayley Mills version) I was worried that this one would be all sugar and no substance. It wasn't that way at all!

Pollyanna's joy is sincere and she's been through a hard life already at the tender age of 12. She moves in with her strict aunt after becoming an orphan. Her minister father taught her to find something to be glad about even in the most dire circumstance. Her "glad game" is not pretentious, it's just her way of dealing with life and it's her earnestness that sells the spirit of the book.

Every person she meets is touched by her unbridled enthusiasm. What a beautiful way to live your life. No matter what their circumstances, each person who crossed her path found that their world was a little brighter because of her presence. How many of us can say that?

BOTTOM LINE: A sweet gem that I can't wait to share with my own daughter one day. We could all learn a little something from Pollyanna. 
I absolutely adored the 1990 film version. It was called Polly: Coming Home and starred Rudy from The Cosby Show. It took the Pollyanna story, but gave it a unique twist by setting it in 1956 Alabama. Pollyanna befriends people of different races and becomes an instrument of understanding in the community. 

“What men and women need is encouragement. Their natural resisting powers should be strengthened, not weakened ... Instead of always harping on a man's faults, tell him of his virtues. Try to pull him out of his rut ... Hold up to him his better self, his real self that can dare and do and win out! ... People radiate what is in their minds and in their hearts.”


Andi said...

I'm so glad this one worked for you because it makes me want to try it out!

Amy said...

I love this book, too. I read it when I was in my early teens and then read a bunch of the books that followed (even some of the ones written by other authors). I also love the 1990 film. And if I remember right, there were actually two that starred Keshia Knight Pulliam (I think Comin' Home was actually the sequel to the first one which was simply called "Polly.") I loved the music and dancing in them.

*ೃ༄ Jillian said...

Oh, she sounds a bit like Anne Shirley. I need to read this! :)

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Andi - Read it when you need to be cheered up a bit.

Amy - I think you're right! I think I combined the two movies in my head. Now I want to get a copy of both and watch them :)

Jillian - She is! Anne has a special place in my heart because I discovered her when I was so young, but I loved so much about the Pollyanna book.

Brona said...

Reading your review has made me realise that I have never read Pollyanna either. I think I've got her mixed up with Pippi Longstocking as well as Anne Shirley.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Brona - It's a sweet one!