Eleanor F. Porter
Just the mention of the name “Pollyanna” is liable to create one of two reactions in many readers (some may have both!): an image of a cute, young Hayley Mills and/or the word “glad.”
Both are appropriate! I remember the Hayley Mills movie from when I was a kid, but I’d never actually read Pollyanna until just recently. I’m so glad I did! This book has become such a part of our cultural heritage that people even use the term “pollyanna-ish” or “pollyanna spirit.”
Pollyanna consistently played the “Glad game” until she suffered a tragic accident; then, people who’d been transformed by her positive outlook rallied around her and helped her play the game for herself. The book has a triumphant ending befitting its cheery disposition.
Still readable today, this is a terrific option to throw at elementary students (and middle) who enjoy other old-fashioned stories about girls facing hardship and not giving up. (Um, Secret Garden, Five Little Peppers, Anne of Green Gables, Little Women… anyone?).
One final note: this is the best literary description of the Proverb: “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22)