THAT JULIA REDFERN by Eleanor Cameron


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First met as a 1920s adolescent in A Room With a View (1971), Julia Redfern was a little younger in the 1977 volume Julia and the Hand of God. This moves back further yet to a six-year-old Julia, high-spirited and sometimes heedless (hence the title) but engagingly open, imaginative, and spontaneous in her emotions as well as her actions. Early in the story, Julia's beloved father, an aspiring writer, goes off to World War I. His death is foreshadowed; but before it's announced, Julia, unconscious from a playground accident (""'You live too hard, Julia,' Mama would say""), dreams of climbing upward with Daddy, high in the Berkeley hills, until he insists on going on alone, leaving her lost in the hills with the message ""Remember to tell Mama to go through my papers."" Julia wakens terrified to a real nightmare--she's being held prisoner by two old people who found her unconscious and expect a reward for saving her--but learns later that her father was shot down on the day of her dream. And in his papers Mother finds a story that's accepted by the ""very best"" literary magazine. And so, despite Grandma's lack of faith, Daddy was a writer after all. And Julia too, we know even without the other volumes, will be a writer; Daddy had expressed his faith by building her a wonderful desk before he left. But this is not all love and promise: In neighbor Maisie, Maisie's mother, and Julia's tight-lipped Aunt Alex, Cameron portrays the petty spite and meanness and partiality that can drive a child to seething rage. And of course it also makes readers all the more sympathetic with Julia, who can name a hated doll (a gift from Aunt Alex) Felony, and then offer Maisie the doll with the most innocent and reasonable intentions. A winning first acquaintance.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Dutton