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Daddy-Long-Legs (Looking Glass Library) Hardcover – January 25, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 164 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up-Jerusha Abbott has grown up in the John Grier Home for orphans. As the oldest, she is in charge of the younger children. An anonymous benefactor on the Board, "Mr. Smith," decides to send her to college, as long as she writes to him faithfully detailing her education. Originally published in 1912, Jean Webster's coming-of-age tale continues to be relevant to young women today. Actress Kate Forges shares these months and years, from freshman to senior in college. Through a series of letters Jerusha writes to "Daddy-Long-Legs," a relationship filled with affection and respect develops, even though she is the only correspondent throughout the years. Although the narrative unfolds slowly, the language is sophisticated, highly descriptive, and witty. Jerusha's concern about social class standings may seem a bit dated to most listeners, as the reference to "Negro waiters" when she is riding the train may surprise and offend some listeners. Forbes gives an outstanding one-woman performance. Her crisp elucidation, varied intonations, and enthusiasm for this character provide a first-rate reading. This tale will appeal to listeners who revel in rich, detailed imagery to present a character wholly believable and likeable.-Tina Hudak, St. Bernard's School, Riverdale, MD

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

"Blue Wednesday"

The first Wednesday in every month was a Perfectly Awful Day--a day to be awaited with dread, endured with courage and forgotten with haste. Every floor must be spotless, every chair dustless, and every bed without a wrinkle. Ninety-seven squirming little orphans must be scrubbed and combed and buttoned into freshly starched ginghams; and all ninety-seven reminded of their manners, and told to say, "Yes, sir," "No, sir," whenever a Trustee spoke.

It was a distressing time; and poor Jerusha Abbott, being the oldest orphan, had to bear the brunt of it. But this particular first Wednesday, like its predecessors, finally dragged itself to a close. Jerusha escaped from the pantry where she had been making sandwiches for the asylum's guests, and turned upstairs to accomplish her regular work. Her special care was room F, where eleven little tots, from four to seven, occupied eleven little cots set in a row. Jerusha assembled her charges, straightened their rumpled frocks, wiped their noses, and started them in an orderly and willing line toward the dining-room to engage themselves for a blessed half hour with bread and milk and prune pudding.

Then she dropped down on the window seat and leaned throbbing temples against the cool glass. She had been on her feet since five that morning, doing everybody's bidding, scolded and hurried by a nervous matron. Mrs. Lippett, behind the scenes, did not always maintain that calm and pompous dignity with which she faced an audience of Trustees and lady visitors. Jerusha gazed out across a broad stretch of frozen lawn, beyond the tall iron paling that marked the confines of the asylum, down undulating ridges sprinkled with country estates, to the spires of the village rising from the midst of bare trees.

The day was ended--quite successfully, so far as she knew. The Trustees and the visiting committee had made their rounds, and read their reports, and drunk their tea, and now were hurrying home to their own cheerful firesides, to forget their bothersome little charges for another month. Jerusha leaned forward watching with curiosity--and a touch of wistfulness--the stream of carriages and automobiles that rolled out of the asylum gates. In imagination she followed first one equipage, then another, to the big houses dotted along the hillside. She pictured herself in a fur coat and a velvet hat trimmed with feathers leaning back in the seat and nonchalantly murmuring "Home" to the driver. But on the door-sill of her home the picture grew blurred.

Jerusha had an imagination--an imagination, Mrs. Lippett told her, that would get her into trouble if she didn't take care--but keen as it was, it could not carry her beyond the front porch of the houses she would enter. Poor, eager, adventurous little Jerusha, in all her seventeen years, had never stepped inside an ordinary house; she could not picture the daily routine of those other human beings who carried on their lives undiscommoded by orphans.


Je-ru-sha Ab-bott You are wan-ted In the of-fice, And I think you'd Better hurry up!


Tommy Dillon, who had joined the choir, came singing up the stairs and down the corridor, his chant growing louder as he approached room F. Jerusha wrenched herself from the window and refaced the troubles of life.

"Who wants me?" she cut into Tommy's chant with a note of sharp anxiety.


Mrs. Lippett in the office, And I think she's mad. Ah-a-men!


Tommy piously intoned, but his accent was not entirely malicious. Even the most hardened little orphan felt sympathy for an erring sister who was summoned to the office to face an annoyed matron; and Tommy liked Jerusha even if she did sometimes jerk him by the arm and nearly scrub his nose off.

Jerusha went without comment, but with two parallel lines on her brow. What could have gone wrong, she wondered. Were the sandwiches not thin enough? Were there shells in the nut cakes? Had a lady visitor seen the hole in Susie Hawthorn's stocking? Had--O horrors!--one of the cherubic little babes in her own room F "sassed" a Trustee?

The long lower hall had not been lighted, and as she came downstairs, a last Trustee stood, on the point of departure, in the open door that led to the porte-cochere. Jerusha caught only a fleeting impression of the man--and the impression consisted entirely of tallness. He was waving his arm toward an automobile waiting in the curved drive. As it sprang into motion and approached, head on for an instant, the glaring headlights threw his shadow sharply against the wall inside. The shadow pictured grotesquely elongated legs and arms that ran along the floor and up the wall of the corridor. It looked, for all the world, like a huge, wavering daddy-long-legs.

Jerusha's anxious frown gave place to quick laughter. She was by nature a sunny soul, and had always snatched the tiniest excuse to be amused. If one could derive any sort of entertainment out of the oppressive fact of a Trustee, it was something unexpected to the good. She advanced to the office quite cheered by the tiny episode, and presented a smiling face to Mrs. Lippett. To her surprise the matron was also, if not exactly smiling, at least appreciably affable; she wore an expression almost as pleasant as the one she donned for visitors.

"Sit down, Jerusha, I have something to say to you."

Jerusha dropped into the nearest chair and waited with a touch of breathlessness. An automobile flashed past the window; Mrs. Lippett glanced after it.

"Did you notice the gentleman who has just gone?"

"I saw his back."

"He is one of our most affluential Trustees, and has given large sums of money toward the asylum's support. I am not at liberty to mention his name; he expressly stipulated that he was to remain unknown."

Jerusha's eyes widened slightly; she was not accustomed to being summoned to the office to discuss the eccentricities of Trustees with the matron.

"This gentleman has taken an interest in several of our boys. You remember Charles Benton and Henry Freize? They were both sent through college by Mr.--er--this Trustee, and both have repaid with hard work and success the money that was so generously expended. Other payment the gentleman does not wish. Heretofore his philanthropies have been directed solely toward the boys; I have never been able to interest him in the slightest degree in any of the girls in the institution, no matter how deserving. He does not, I may tell you, care for girls."

"No, ma'am," Jerusha murmured, since some reply seemed to be expected at this point.

"To-day at the regular meeting, the question of your future was brought up."
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Series: Looking Glass Library
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (January 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375868283
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375868283
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 7.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (164 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,238,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Usually I absolutely hate novels that are supposed to be a collection of letters and/or diary entries for this simple reason, they are as transparent as saran wrap. Something along the lines of "I'm just jotting down a casual letter to inform you that I just had a terrible fight with so-and-so, here's what we said word for word complete with speaker attributes"
That's why I was so pleasantly suprised with this book. The writing is entertaining, intelligent and always realistic. That is EXACTLY how a person in their late teens, early twenties writes (I know, I'm a letter writer in that age group) and it is so refreshing to read an author who knows what she is talking about on the subject.
Judy Abbott is most certainly not a Pollyanna, she teases, gets angry and argues but she has a nice nature and always manages to patch things up. She is an orphan who writes to her mysterious benefactor whom she dubs "Daddy-Long-Legs". Because he is her fairy godmother for all purposes, she confides in him even though she knows he will never answer. The ending is marvelous with a great little twist. I think this book is great for girls 8-80 and am sorry I did not read it sooner
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Format: Hardcover
I've read this book a few times, and every time I come back to it, I can't put it down. It's short (around 200 pages) & sweet. The book was published in 1912, and is one-of-a-kind, as it consists almost entirely of letters written by Judy. Judy is an orphan from the John Grier Home, an orphange she was raised in since she was a baby. Her future seems very bleak until one day she is unexpectedly offered the opportunity for a paid college education to become an author by one of the orphanage's trustees. In return, she has to write monthly letters to the unknown trustee who is known as Mr. John Smith. She calls him "Daddy-Long-Legs" because she saw his tall shadow as he left the building. Her letters are very entertaining, and often impertinent. That is really all I want to tell of the story, but here are a couple of quotes from the book that I loved:
"It isn't the big troubles in life that require character. Anybody can rise to a crisis and face a crushing tragedy with courage, but to meet the petty hazards of the day with a laugh -- I really think that requires spirit."
"I think the most necessary quality for any person to have is imagination. It makes people able to put themselves in other people's places. It makes them kind and sympathetic and understanding. It ought to be cultivated in children."
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
first, please allow me to say that i am quite enjoying these puffin classics editions of some of my favorite novels!

'daddy long legs' is the story of a young orphan girl named judy who was removed from the orphanage by an anonymous patron/guardian who sends her away to school. the trade-off for this extraction is that she must write him a letter at least once per month.

the joy in this novel is the progression and self-assurance that builds with each letter she writes to him. i will spoil none of the story, but the ending is heartwarming and will not disappoint.

having this updated printing reminds me of when i first read this in grade school/middle school. these joyful memories are priceless.

a bonus here with the puffin classics is the addition of backstory included at the end of the book. here you can learn more about the author, the story, the characters, and so much more. what a delightful thing to include!

i have purchased most of these puffin classics editions, and will certainly look for future additions to add to my collection.
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Format: Paperback
Judy is a surprisingly modern heroine in this epistolary novel, an orphan rescued by a mysterious benefactor and sent to college at the turn of the last century. She's entertaining, has a sense of humor that the hardships of her past has not diminished, is a talented writer, and aspires to be a "useful citizen." This is a perfect girls' fantasy with a storybook ending, and has held up over time remarkably well. I've only seen the Fred Astaire version of the movie adaptation, which I cannot recommend...read the book instead, it's truly charming.
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Format: Paperback
This book is one of the dearest to my heart. I must have read it 50 times. Jean Webster delicately molded this novel to tell the tale of a girl coming-of-age through letters to her mysterious gaurdian. The ending surprises me every time. People young and old will genuinly treasure this story of a poor ophan growing into a learned, beautiful woman.
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Format: Paperback
Daddy Long Legs is one of my favorite books of all time. It looks like an old book, but it is as current as any of todays best seller. Throughout the years, I have re-read Daddy-Long-Legs, time and time again. When I read this novel, I laughed and I cried. Each event that happens in this novel has you glued to your chair. In every letter that Judy (aka, Jurusha Abbott) writes to her favorite Daddy-Long-Legs, she tells of her daily life. She shares her happiness, her sadness, her everything, to a man that she doesn't know, but loves so much. I strongly recommend this book to anyone that has a dream that they think will never come true. After reading this book, you will know there are miracles. Dreams do come true.
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