Thursday, December 7, 2017


by Eleanor H. Porter
abridged and modernized by Kathleen Olmstead
150 pages / 2007

I'm not one for abridged classics – why not just read the original?

However, there is an exception to every rule. I recently realized that my little ones could benefit from learning about Pollyanna's "glad game" but they just weren't old enough yet to sit through the original. Fortunately Sterling Books' "Classic Starts" has a very good abridgment. At first I was wondering whether this even was an abridgment - had they maybe just tweaked the language a bit? But it is, in fact, about half the size. And that made it the perfect size for my girls.

Pollyanna is a poor but cheerful orphan girl who goes to live with her rich, strait-laced aunt. Hilarity ensues, and the aunt is gradually won over. I won't tell you more, other than to say there is one shocking/sad moment that could cause young listeners some distress – Pollyanna gets hurt quite badly. I peeked ahead and made sure that the chapter with the accident was one I would begin an evening with, so that, before concluding for the night, I could read two more chapters where things took a happier turn. That helped my audience work through this tense section.

So what is Pollyanna's "glad game"? It's something her father taught her - he explained that even when things aren't going our way, there is always something to be glad about. He first taught her the game one Christmas when Pollyanna was hoping for a doll, but the only gift sent to her poor family was a pair of tiny crutches. So what is there to be happy about that? It took some thinking, but eventually father and daughter came up with something: they could be glad about the crutches because at least “we didn’t need to use them!”

Pollyanna teaches her game to many others, and in doing so, transforms her community - they too, start to see the silver lining to each dark cloud.

Of course, this game can be taken to extremes. When an older man breaks a leg, Pollyanna notes he could be glad that he broke just the one leg. Well, okay. But, as the Preacher said, there is a time for everything, and that includes mourning. So maybe it is fine for the man to just simply be sad for a time at the pain and suffering that's happened to him.

But while Pollyanna's game can be taken to extremes, I don't think many of us are in danger of doing so. Couldn't we all do with a good dose of this Pollyanna-ish thinking?

You can pick up this wonderful book at or but there are other abridgments, and not all as good, so do make sure the one you get is the Sterling Books' "Classic Starts" edition

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