Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Pollyanna and Pollyanna Grows Up (Hesperus Press)

For the past couple of years, Hesperus Press has been releasing Andrew Lang's Fairy Books in beautiful hardcover editions. I only recently discovered their paperback editions of children's books from the past that should never have went out of print. Some of these titles include Tanglewood Tales, The Wouldbegoods, The Lost Prince, and many other wonderful titles. Today, I am reviewing Pollyanna and Pollyanna Grows Up by Eleanor H. Porter.

I first learned of the character Pollyanna in my childhood thanks to Walt Disney and the child actress Hayley Mills. It wouldn't be until years later that I realized they were actually books. For those unfamiliar with the character and first book, Pollyanna Whittier is an orphan who goes to live with her Aunt Polly. Aunt Polly can best be described as a spinster (negative a term as that may be), and Pollyanna is an eternal optimist, a trait/philosophical outlook that her father instilled in her. This outlook is also referred to as "The Glad Game," where you find something to be glad about in every situation. The book focuses on this game and Pollyanna sharing her outlook with others and transforming them from negative people to more positive people...even her Aunt Polly. However, it wouldn't be much of a book without a conflict or setback, and it comes in the form of Pollyanna losing the use of her legs. This puts Pollyanna's outlook to the ultimate test, as it is hard to be glad about losing the use of one's legs. It is the people whose lives that she touched and changed who help her get through this temporary hardship. Yes, temporary, because she does eventually learn to walk again.

Pollyanna Grows Up is one of many sequels to Pollyanna, but it is the only one written by the original author, Eleanor H. Porter. For that reason, it is the only official sequel in my book. The book essentially starts off where the original left off. Pollyanna's legs are cured and she has traveled to Boston. Her "Glad Game" is still going strong as she meets an ex-convict and helps save a young woman. She also meets several boys/young men here and winds up with three potential suitors. We flash forward to her at the age of 20 years old and having returned from Europe. Like the first book, she faces difficulties, but these seem a bit more dire and put her "Glad Game" to real tests. There is death and financial hardships and the consequences of friendship and romance and how they intermingle or fail to and create hard feelings. The book ends happy, but I won't tell you who she ends up with. You'll have to read that to find out.

These two books are primarily aimed at girls, but are charming and good wholesome reads which are suitable for the whole family. We are living in a dystopian world of literature at the moment, so it is nice to read something with natural optimism and just general cheer. We could use more books like this being published presently, so I am thankful that Hesperus Press has done just that. If you are a fan of the Little House series, you will like these two books. May we all try and look on the bright side of things like Pollyanna, and we might end up making the world a better place.

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