Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Daddy-Long-Legs

Daddy-Long-Legs

Jean Webster
Fiction
For ages 13 and up
Penguin, 1995   ISBN: 978-0140374551

Jerusha Abbot has spent her entire life, all seventeen years of it, at the John Grier Home for orphans. In all that time, poor little Jerusha has never set foot inside an ordinary home, and she has never really been anywhere or done anything other than to go to school and to work at the orphanage for her keep. Now, quite out of the blue, her life is going to change. A kindly trustee has decided that Jerusha shows promise as a writer and he is going to pay for her to go to college. Jerusha does not know who this trustee is, and all she sees of him is his shadow cast across a wall, which looks like the image of a tall gangly daddy-long-legs. The trustee wants to keep his identity a secret, and all he asks of Jerusha in return is that she should write to him every so often to tell him how she is doing in college.

Being a cheerful and bouncy sort of person Jerusha is soon sending “Mr. John Smith” lots of letters. She decides to call him Daddy-Long-Legs as that is what he looked like on that one occasion when she saw him. She also decides to call herself Judy as she does not like the name Jerusha.

Judy quickly settles into college life, and on the whole she loves her studies. She makes friends and delights in the freedoms that she never had before. One of the people that she meets is the uncle of one of her classmates. He is called Jarvis Pendleton and he turns out to be funny, interesting, and not at all like the rest of his snooty family.

Through Judy’s letters to her “Dear Daddy” we are able to ‘watch’ Judy grow up from being a clumsy young girl who is unsure of herself into a young woman who finds her feet and who even is willing to defy “Dear Daddy” himself when she thinks that she is in the right. Though this book was originally published in 1912, it is still relevant to readers today. It is still funny and charming, and it will resonate with people who are negotiating new territories that are both exciting, and sometimes frightening.

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