A lyrical, lovely, and deeply touching adaptation of an authentic journal kept by an orphaned six-year-old girl--later believed to be a French princess--living in an Oregon lumber camp at the turn of the century. 24 black-and-white photographs.
Sheila Deeth, January 6, 2014 (view all comments by Sheila Deeth)
Ostensibly the lost diary of a six-year-old Oregon girl who lived in lumber camps at the turn of 1900, this Journal of an Understanding Heart makes fascinating reading. The blend of mismatched childish words with hints of French and mystery, all rendered poetically and smoothly in this adaptation, creates an enjoyable image of a lonely little girl, misunderstanding and misunderstood. Sometimes hilarious, sometimes filled with innocence and pathos, the story follows Opals travels and travails with animal friends, human strangers, kind adults in loco parentis, and stressed out parents. Read straight, without commentary, it intrigues with childish humor and fun, and those slight deep thoughts with which children inspire such devotion.
Of course, there’s more to the book that a child’s small words. Maybe her “angel parents” are dead, and maybe she’s really an orphan, transplanted to Oregon to take another child’s place. Maybe she’s royalty and speaks French because she learned it as a babe. Or maybe not.
The poetic diary is fun and absorbing, whatever you make of the somewhat complex backstory. And the child’s eye view of life has a stubborn authenticity and lilting cadence that truly intrigues. I really enjoyed it.
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