Just David is just dumb

Eleanor H. Porter produced Just David, a male version of “the glad girl,”  three years after Pollyanna.

The similarities are striking; the differences work to Just David‘s detriment.


Just David by Eleanor H. Porter

1916 bestseller #3. Project Gutenberg ebook #440. My Grade: C.

As the story opens, David, a 10-year-old prodigy, is living in the remote woods with his father.

Realizing he’s seriously ill, the father starts down the mountain with his son, their violins, and a few belongings.

Two days later, the father dies in a Hinsdale barn in which they’ve sheltered.

The surly farmer and his wife take David in.

David transforms their village, has a nearly fatal illness, and recovers in time to arrange a marriage.

Sound familiar?

Whereas Pollyanna was notable for her unusual attitude, David is odd in nearly every way a boy can be:

  • He knows French and Latin but not his own last name.
  • He knows the names of all the local plants, but has no idea what money is.
  • He’s spent days in the woods, but never seen any dead animal.
  • He understands the necessity of training for a musical career, but not the necessity of having wood for a fire.

The other characters are as implausible as David.

You’ll be glad not to have to read this novel.

© 2016 Linda Gorton Aragoni

Credit: Violinist, a double exposure photograph by Dora Mitsonia


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Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

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