The Little Colonel (1935) by Annie Fellows Johnston ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This was a really cute book. It was originally written in 1895, but the copy I have is the 1935 photoplay edition with photos of the Shirley Temple film inserted. Unfortunately, my copy does not have its dust jacket. This is what the dust cover would have looked like. My cover is just plain blue. The title isn’t even on the front, so I won’t bother taking a photo of mine.
I have never seen this film, so I didn’t know anything about this story. It was really sweet, kind of a grandfather/granddaughter story. It’s about letting go of years long grudge and pride and allowing love to take over. I teared up at a point in the beginning, and I shed big tears that couldn’t avoid escaping toward the end. It’s a short book at 145 pages. The pages are thick, and the text leaves 2 1/2″ margins on the bottom of the pages and 1 1/2″ margins on the sides and top, so it’s even shorter than one would imagine a 145 page book to be. I read it in a couple hours.
While this is a good story, there are a couple of downfalls to the book. One, the “Little Colonel”, as the little girl is called, (her real name is Lloyd, which is kind of different) speaks in an extremely southern dialect, as do all the black people in the book, who are also all servants. This makes for slower reading, and I still don’t know what they were trying to say for a couple of words. Number 2, they use the N word oddly frequently in various forms, and one use of ‘darkies’ in the first 30 or so pages. Yes, I know this was common speak in the time that this book was written, but put this into perspective: It’s a children’s book. This could be freely read to a 5 or 6 year old, and probably geared toward ten year old solo readers. So far, I have never seen a book from the era written even for adults that says that word so often. It’s not like it’s said every single page, don’t get the wrong idea, but even 5 times in 30 pages is excessive.
I’m guessing the character that Bill Robinson plays in the film is Walker? Well, Walker is barely in the book, and I don’t even think he speaks at all, come to think of it. Sorry, no song and dance scenes in the book, either.
Anyway, I’m going to go ahead and give this one a 4 star review. It’s a nice, quick read, but leave out the mean adjectives, ok?