Truth be told, when I first heard about Opal Whiteley and this book I can't say I was too interested. It sounded a little too dreary for my taste. It wasn't until a girl brought Jane Boulton's longer (novel-length) adaptation of Opal's diaries ([b:Opal: The Journal of an Understanding Heart|93172|Opal The Journal of an Understanding Heart|Opal Stanley Whiteley|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320476476s/93172.jpg|2623923]) to a poetry themed bookclub meeting that my interest was truly piqued. I was struck by the yearning, earnest verse (particularly when read aloud by a child!) and had to know more so I decided to start with this picture book adaptation. And I'm happy to say I found this a truly delightful read. Yes, heartbreaking in spots, but mostly whimsical, charming and thought provoking.
I will admit that the skeptic in me has a really hard time accepting the 'true story' behind the diaries. I'm not saying I absolutely discount it, but I am saying that it is simply stunning that a child of six could put pen to paper in such an eloquent and profound manner. Regardless of the truth, this is a simply beautiful little picture book and just left me wanting to know more about the real life Opal Whiteley - a fanciful, and apparently brilliant, child who was much misunderstood and mistreated by her caretakers.
Did she really write these verses as a child? It doesn't seem like we'll ever be able to say for sure definitively. However, I am not sure that it matters much either way.