Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Little by Little: A Writer’s Education is the story of author Jean Little’s traumatic childhood, during which she developed a profound appreciation of literature while discovering her affinity for writing. The victim of medical conditions that severely restricted her sight, Little was born in Formosa (Taiwan) in 1932, one of four children of Canadian medical missionaries. Though virtually blind, Little awakened to the pleasure of reading. Forced to read with her nose touching the pages and her head moving to follow each word, she cultivated a voracious literary appetite, simultaneously discovering within her a compulsion to tell stories.

When she was six, Little’s mother confirmed the observation made by a young playmate—that she did, indeed, have “bad eyes.” Little previously had been unaware that she differed significantly from other children because, wisely, her parents had encouraged her to behave normally through participation in games and other activities. Having begun school, however, Little was brutally made aware of her disability through the cruel taunting of other children.

Moving to Canada in 1940, in order that Little might attend a special class for the nearly blind, her parents demonstrated their commitment to providing the finest opportunities for their bright daughter. Consequently, she enjoyed her first year in a special program. In the fourth grade, however, she was sent to a regular school. There, she...

(The entire section is 446 words.)