The Singing Creek Where the Willows Grow
Occasionally it happens that a book read or a story heard changes a life, and that is what happened to Benjamin Hoff when he read a dusty old copy of Opal Whiteley’s book, THE STORY OF OPAL. When he researched the book and discovered the controversy that surrounded it, he became even more interested in Opal, a disturbed woman who reportedly tried to pass off a book she wrote as an adult as a child’s diary.
Hoff studied Opal’s life and examined the evidence of the diary’s authenticity. Convinced that Opal had written the diary as a child, he has reprinted it and added a lengthy introductory biography and discussion of the diary. He also includes an account of his attempts to visit the still-living Opal Whiteley in a sanitarium, and a list of other books about Opal.
Does Mr. Hoff make his case--did Opal write this diary as a child? The answer to both questions would have to be noncommittal. Hoff makes some telling points but is not finally convincing.
Ultimately, though, the issue of whether the book was written by a child does not matter as much as Hoff thinks it does. The diary is a beautifully lyrical portrait of nature, filled with love for animals, plants, streams, and people. Dipped back into over the years, read aloud to children, pondered on a sunny day, this extremely attractive book will repay tenfold any attention it receives, no matter how old the author--or the reader.