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Opal: The Journal of an Understanding Heart…

Opal: The Journal of an Understanding Heart (1976)

by Jane Boulton (Editor), Opal Whiteley

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 4 of 4
The time of childhood innocence, when we are open to the essences of the plants and animals around us. Opal, orphaned, is raised by a family who completely lacks the same respect for nature that was inculcated by her birth parents. I'll want to re-read this whenever I need a reminder that it is possible to know the living world around me--or, better yet, I should go walk thru the woods myself with observant eyes.
In addition to the diary, which was adapted and excerpted from what Opal published in 1920, there is the postscript written by Whiteley in 1920 and an Introduction and Afterword written by Boulton with information about Opal's life and the controversy over whether this was a true diary or a later creation. ( )
  juniperSun | Jun 24, 2015 |
Lovely book. Written in verse form, it covers only a small portion of Opal's diaries. I recommend Singing Creek Where The Willow Grows. It is a more complete diary. ( )
  njcur | Feb 13, 2014 |
The real diary of an unusual and gifted five-year-old living in an Oregon lumber camp in the early 1900s. Her diary was "adapted" by Jane Boulton, but I'm not sure exactly what this "adaptation" consisted of. Boulton says she broke the prose down into free verse, but what else did she do? In any case, this is a fascinating diary and the story behind it is fascinating as well. Opal lived in an unhappy home with an abusive foster mother, and her comfort and escape was in nature. She had many animal friends and gave them names like Felix Mendelssohn and Horatius, and wrote a great deal about her adventures with the animals.

No one's really sure who Opal really was or where she came from. She certainly was not an ordinary Oregon lumber camps child. Both her parents died when she was a toddler, and no one knows who they were, but Opal writes in the diary in French and displays great familiarity with classical history and literature and with the Roman Catholic Church. The afterword argues that she may well have been the daughter of Henri, Duc d'Orleans, one of the last members of the French royal family.

Opal reminds me a lot of how Anne of Green Gables would have been before she moved in with Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert. Both child and adult readers can appreciate this diary and its unique voice. ( )
1 vote meggyweg | Mar 31, 2010 |
Seems rather precocious for a 6yo, but it could be real
  Amante | Aug 24, 2009 |
Showing 4 of 4
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Boulton, JaneEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Whiteley, Opalmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Whiteley, OpalAuthorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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My mother and father are gone.
Introduction: This is the unusual diary of a most unusual child who was born just before 1900.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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