Review: Daddy-Long-Legs, by Jean Webster

51JYuza97wL[1]I love this book.  I’ve read it a dozen times, maybe more, and was bereft when I couldn’t find it in my stacks recently.  So when it was a freebie through Early Bird Books, I jumped at the chance to have a digital copy at least.  Though I admit i approached it with trepidation last night.  I’d just finished a book I didn’t really care much for, and after rereading A Wrinkle in Time and finding that it didn’t really live up to my memories, I feared that I might be setting myself up for more disappointment.

And in fact, there was one, which I will discuss later in the review.  But the story itself? Still captivating.  The characters, all seen through the eyes of the narrator, Judy Abbott, are both amusing and quite human. She — Judy/Jean Webster — has an eye for human silliness, but a forgiving one.  It’s a humane book that made me smile and gave me some warm fuzzies when I needed them.

It’s the story of an orphan who is sent to college by an anonymous benefactor on the condition that she writes him one letter a month to let him see how she’s progressing.  But Judy, who has been an orphan since babyhood, and was raised in an orphanage, is hungry for some kind of familial contact, so she creates a kind of grandfather/father/uncle figure in her mind, and addresses her benefactor as “Daddy Long-Legs,” since all she knows about his is that he’s tall and wealthy.

Her letters are warm, rich, and amusing, and it’s easy to fall in love with a girl who is in the process of falling in love with the whole world, a world she couldn’t even imagine growing up as she did. I could read Judy’s adventures all day, and recommend this book as a balm to treat weltschmerz.  Five stars for the story.

Alas, three stars for the Open Road Media Young Readers version.  The original is filled with charming drawings, but Open Road didn’t include any of them.  Or rather, they included exactly ONE. Why they chose to do that is beyond me.  It’s either weird or it’s sloppy, but that one illustration really irritated me.  I wasn’t happy that all the rest were gone, but had there been some consistency I’d have shrugged and thought “Oh well.”  But including one of them meant that including them all wouldn’t have been a problem, and they just decided not to bother.

So I’m happy to have the text, but I would recommend a different digital version.

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