My Grandma Celesta never was a big movie-watcher, but the movie Pollyanna somehow made the cut (along with 1 or 2 others) for her tiny movie collection. I have a clear memory of watching it with Grandma and Grandpa in the upstairs of their farmhouse as a little girl (maybe I remember it clearly because watching a movie with Grandma was rare!). So when I came across the book Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter recently at the library, it was a no-brainer to bring it home and browse to see which of my avid readers would enjoy it the most.
As I paged through the book, I decided that it would be a perfect read-aloud book to enjoy with my 10-year-old son. As much as I thought he’d enjoy it, I was just as anxious to see how the story compared with the movie since I had never read it.
Though I started reading it with my oldest, my second son joined us after only a few chapters and all three of us really enjoyed the read (and the movie night that followed!).
If you haven’t read it, go pick it up at your library and don’t finish reading this post until you have returned your library book (so you avoid a $17 library fine that I just paid…). I don’t want to spoil it for you because it was such a delightful read. If you have read it, or don’t plan on reading it, here’s what I loved the most about it.
Pollyanna’s sunny, optomistic attitude is a focal point in the book. Her Dad, who passed away before the book began, taught her to play a game: in any given situation, find something to be glad about. The more bleak the situation looks, the better the game gets. Throughout the book, we watch Pollyanna find the bright side of many situations, and teach others “the game”. At the end of the story, Pollyanna is partially paralysed (as a result of an accident) and it looks as if she will never walk again. For the first time in the story, she cannot find a thing to be glad about.
Pollyanna has been living with an aunt (Aunt Polly), who has been cold an distant toward her. Among other requests, Aunt Polly has clearly told Pollyanna that she doesn’t want her to talk about her father, and therefore made it impossible for Pollyanna to share with her aunt how to play the glad game (since it has everything to do with her father).
At the end of the book, the town-folk have heard about the accident causing the paralysis, and one by one come to the house to ask Aunt Polly to relay a message to Pollyanna. Each one of them share the way that Pollyanna’s cheerful attitude has impacted them for good, and express their hope that if Aunt Polly shares how Pollyanna has helped them, perhaps that would make her glad. Aunt Polly is amazed as she listens to one person after another talk about this little girl changing their very lives with her ability to find the good.
After the visitors have all left, Aunt Polly marvels at what she has just heard and slowly, thoughtfully makes her way upstairs where her niece is resting. The next scene involves Aunt Polly sharing a tearful conversation with Pollyanna. Finally Pollyanna is able to share with her aunt “the game”. Aunt Polly who has been cold and unfeeling most of the time Pollyanna has been with her (though we have seen her changing gradually through the second half of the book), softens dramatically. Aunt Polly starts to look for the good with Pollyanna, and as a result, Pollyanna finds something to be glad about: the injury caused Aunt Polly to open up and love her. This was the thing Pollyanna had longed for above all else.
I was so touched by those last few chapters of the book. Do you ever wonder if you can make a difference in the world since you are just one person? Does your contribution matter? Pollyanna proves that one person can make an enormous difference; and not in some huge, humanitarian-project, world-peace kind of way; just by being herself, just looking for the good around her, Pollyanna had a transformative effect on those who came into her circle of influence.
So…be YOU today- and find something to be glad about!