Thursday, August 6, 2015

Another Children's Lit. Adventure

Last weekend, we ventured up to Littleton, New Hampshire. Aside from being home to the world's longest candy counter, the town is also the birthplace of Eleanor Hodgson Porter.

The Pollyanna statue outside the Littleton library

Porter is best known for penning Pollyanna, the story of an orphan girl whose remarkably optimistic outlook on life radiates outward, impacting everyone she meets in her new hometown. Her stodgy Aunt Polly, a reluctant guardian, is transformed into a caring and warm woman who allows herself to open up to love she previously resisted, both from her sunny niece and a former beau.

Even if one hasn't read the novel, anyone who's seen the 1960 Disney classic starring Hayley Mills already knows this. Of course, as with any Disney movie, there are significant differences between it and the original text.

I can often remember when I discovered the differences between Disney adaptations and the tales they're based on; I still remember how horrified I was when I read what really happens to the little mermaid. Although the Disney film Pollyanna is 'inspired by' rather than 'based on' Porter's novel, I think the spirit of Pollyanna transcends the textual contentions and comes through in the music, colors and All-American tone that is the hallmark of post-war Disney. And the ingenue Hayley Mills is incomparable, which is why I never understood Disney's reasons for re-making The Parent Trap.

Although Littleton doesn't offer much more as a tribute to Porter than a statue (no preserved home or museum of literary artifacts to peruse), it's worth a day trip to say you've been in The Glad Town.

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