Only Opal by Barbara Cooney

Only Opal

Born around the turn of the century, Opal Whiteley offers a peek into the life of an endearing young child growing up on the frontier. Through these excerpts from her diary, we are given a taste of the struggle and despair, as well as the faith and joy felt in each moment of her young life.--"Cooney's clear, beautifully detailed watercolor paintings show the sturdy, solitary child, who imagines her own secret, mischievous world even when she's up...

Details Only Opal

TitleOnly Opal
Release DateJun 16th, 1997
GenreChildrens, Picture Books, Biography, History, Autobiography, Memoir

Reviews Only Opal

  • Kathryn
    Jane Boulton (a poet herself) selected (and, I think, somewhat adapted) excerpts from Opal Whiteley's childhood diary to create the narrative for this story. Perfectly paired with Barbara Cooney's illustrations, this makes a poignant and beautiful story about a young girl's affection and appreciation for nature and animals, her yearning for kindness, and her tenacious spirit. According to the author's note, Opal's parents died when she was young ...
  • Lisa Vegan
    Wow! This book is so depressing, made somewhat less depressing by Opal’s connections to various animals and plants, the fact that she was writing, the fact that she seemed to feel some comfort in the presence of her dead parents.Orphaned, living with a family that makes her work hard and seems to show her no affection, this is presented as a portion of her diary covering her 5th-6th year, a time when she was supposedly just learning to write, a...
  • Melki
    Young Opal Whitely tells her own story in this book. Born around 1900, Opal is taken in by a disinterested family after her parents died. The family moved nineteen times to various lumber camps, and Opal kept writing in her diary. When she was twenty, her diaries were published in book form.This is a rather sad book, giving us a glimpse of Opal's life as she visits with her human and animal friends, then again as she says goodbye to them before h...
  • Luisa Knight
    This book is based off of a diary of a young girl at the turn of the century. It's quite sad actually and doesn't end happily either.Ages: 4 - 8Cleanliness: the little girl believes her dead parents are guardian angels, watching over her.**Like my reviews? I also have hundreds of detailed reports that I offer too. These reports give a complete break-down of everything in the book, so you'll know just how clean it is or isn't. I also have Clean Gu...
  • Elizabeth
    This is a beautifully written, and tragically sad story - but well worth the read if you are doing a memoir study with older children (and none of whom have been abandoned...)
  • Lisa Mcbroom
    Rereading a book is like revisiting an old friend. I was so glad to visit with Opal out of Only Opal. Opal Whitely kept a diary as a child. Born about 1900, Opal lived a hard life. Her parents both died and she was sent to live with unfeeling people. Opal always kept a positive attitude and her spirituality was beautiful. When she is 20, she meets a publisher who wants to publish her diaires. Torn to pieces by a :wicked stepsister" Opal kept the ...
  • Claudia
    This book is actually excerpts from a controversial diary of a young girl in the early 1900's. Controversial because there are questions about the truth...I almost hope this isn't true...a five-year-old is orphaned and taken in by completely unsympathetic folks whom she calls 'the father' and 'the mother.' The mother keeps Opal home on laundry days and makes the little girl do way more than a child's share of the chores. One wonders, but Opal nev...
  • Linda
    One of the recent books found in a collection purchased from a retired teacher is this lovely book with diary parts selected by Jane Boulton, and beautiful illustrations by Barbara Cooney. The back matter tells that Opal Whiteley did live with a couple after her parents died when she was seven. It is a true kind of Cinderella story. The family didn't treat her well but she kept a secret diary and this book shares parts of it. We learn that she ta...
  • Meghan Brigan
    Only Opal consists of excerpts from Opal Whiteley's real diary. Opal was born around 1900 and was adopted after her parents died. Opal learns to adapt to her new surroundings by connecting with nature.I would recommend this book for children ranging from six years old to ten years old. This book classifies as a biography. Opal shows that nature can be comforting when life makes her sad. Opal's outlook on life even after the death of her family an...
  • Janet
    This picture book told in verse, is an interesting look at the thoughts and feelings of a young girl who has lost her parents and while living with "the mother" and the father" writes in her diary about her sadness without her parents and her friendship with animals. It is haunting to think about children who feel and endure these hardships. I loved the names Opal chose for her animal friends-and laughed out loud at the pig named Peter Paul Reube...
  • Christian Houseworth
    This book uses the craft of creating a character using a certain dialect, in this book particularly a southern dialect. This makes the text more real and students can envision themselves in this book right beside Opal. This is a great book to use when teaching writers craft, specifically diary/journal written because this book is written like a diary. Also, this would be a great book for picture walks because the pictures are very detailed.
  • Tim Vandenberg
    Once again, Barbara Cooney's art shines (and I like her art in this book even more than her work found in Miss Rumphius or Ox-Cart Man!)What makes this book super special is that its text is from an actual little orphan girl's diary. It's really quite heart braking at points (e.g., her foster mom really doesn't love her), but that's what makes the book so real & therefore so effective.Recommended.
  • Kayla
    This book was about a young girl who's parents passed away. The new mother that she lives with makes her do many chores. She would miss school so she could wash the laundry. I enjoyed reading the diary of opal. She often struggled and had hard times but still remained as positive as good be.
  • Carly Brown
    One of my favorite children's books. Shares the diary entries of a young girl who was orphaned and taken in by a traveling family from Oregon. Her determination to keep the diary after everything is heartwarming.
  • Toryn
    Only Opal is a beautifully written and illustrated book and plus its true! As you can read in the back of book, Opal's stepsister tore up her diary and hid it under a log. Someone found it ,put it together and Ms.Cooney wrote it down and made this book!
  • Kate Sanders
    This book is the diary of a young girl who has lost both of her parents. She now lives with a new "mom" who isn't always nice and motherly. Her escape from reality tends to be what is in nature, whether it be trees, flowers, or animals. This would be a good book for older elementary students.
  • Amie
    This was excellent. I found it more hopeful than sad, but I understand where other reviewers are coming from. I researched Opal and was devastated to learn her real life was much more tragic.
  • Rebecca
    This is one of those books that has stayed with me for years. Haunting and beautiful. I think of it often.
  • Robyn Obermeyer
    Easy enjoyable book!
  • Alice Mott
    I look forward to reading Opal's Whitley's entire diary: Opal the Journal of an Understanding Heart. Published in 1920.
  • Jamie
    Based on the diary of a very young orphaned girl, this is a bit of a haunting book, but the illustrations add some beauty to Opal's harsh world.
  • Andrea
    Beautiful words and pictures. Very moving in a simple and poignant way.
  • Andrea Campbell
    This is from the diary of a woman who was born in 1900. After her parents passed away she decided to keep a diary of her "fifth and sixth year" where she chronicles her daily experiences.
  • Shelley Lee
    Beautifuly touching because of it's true story content.