Reading Anne Of Green Gables Is A Family Tradition In Our House & Publishers Just Ruined Her

anne of green gablesAnne Shirley and I go way back. Way, way back. We’ve been close since I was in elementary school. And I can tell you, without a doubt, that Anne Shirley never resembled the blonde girl in a plaid shirt currently covering the books about Anne’s life.

One of my earliest childhood memories is of my mother reading Anne of Green Gables to my sister and me. We shared a room when we were younger, and I can still see us all curled up in my sister’s bed as my mother introduced us to the Lake of Shining Waters and kindred spirits and Marilla Cuthbert’s tough love. The women in my family get together to watch the Anne movies every couple of years or so. Aunts, grandmothers, grandchildren, we all grab popcorn and pillows and sob hysterically when Matthew dies.

Anne of Green Gables and all of the adventures that follow are a part of my family traditions. I already have copies of those books waiting, sitting on my daughter’s bookshelves, and I can’t wait til she’s ready to read them.

So maybe all of this nostalgia and attachment explains why I am so unbelievably angry that a publishing company would throw a pretty blonde girl on the cover of Anne’s stories. And really, I’m angry. Irrationally angry, given that we’re talking about books and not any of the other tragic and horrible things happening in the news today.

That stupid pretty blonde and her plaid shirt are the opposite of everything these books represent. Anne is a redhead with freckles. In fact, her red hair is central part in the beginning of her story. Gilbert Blythe infuriates her by calling her “carrots.” She attempts to dye her red hair because she hates it so much. She moons over her friend Diana’s raven-black hair. The hair is a big deal! And anyone who would turn Anne into a blonde simply couldn’t have read or cared about these stories.

The publishers of this edition of Anne’s classic stories should be ashamed of themselves. They shouldn’t be allowed to operate in the literary business. They took a timeless classic and they cheaply attempted to sex it up, most likely hoping to reach a younger teen audience.

Anne and I go way back. And on her behalf, I’m insulted. Lord help me if this is what we have to do to introduce young girls to classic literature.

(Photo: Amazon)

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  • K.

    I’m torn between my hipster penchant for ironic kitsch that has me wanting to purchase this version because it’s so absurd and the fact that doing so would encourage them to make similar marketing decisions in the future.

  • Kate

    WTF? It’s like they accidentally swapped the cover pic with Sweet Valley High!

  • Maggie

    I live one province over from Prince Edward Island, where Anne had all her adventures, and the Anne of Green Gables culture around here, and in P.E.I., is huge and very devoted to little redhead Anne. This cover infuriates me. Like you said Lindsay, it goes against everything that Anne of Green Gables is about, and looks nothing like her! What the heck were these publishers thinking.

  • me

    That looks like it belongs to a completely different book. What in the world were they thinking??

  • MarisaSays

    I saw this yesterday & almost had a heart attack. The Anne books are gospel for me, and the idea that anyone who had even skimmed the first book thought this was okay for the cover is just…infuriating. If I ever have a daughter, she will be inheriting my personal collection for sure.

  • Blueathena623

    Just waiting to see Laura ingalls wilder in a bikini

    • LindsayCross

      My friend guessed Wilder would get a Bratz doll makeover next…

  • EMore

    This really irritates me as well, I grew up reading Anne of Green Gables. Not only did I get to know her very well (and a major part of her is the red hair and freckles!!!) but part of her attraction was she was a red head, I have red hair and have done a lot of crazy things as a child with well intent just did not turn out as such, similar to some of Anne’s tales. Any how I was really able to relate to her character and loved the fact she had red hair I will never buy one of these books with anyone other than a picture representational of the actual character. Do these publishers not read the books they are responsible for representing and how can you not know Anne has red hair??? Its offensive to not only long time readers of these books but redheads in general. People always think blonde (I don’t think there is anything wrong with being blonde but there aren’t that many actual redheads) is better aka why Lindsay Lohan gets paler and paler (hair and skin wise) she looked way better before she bleached out. Plus the outfit is not even in the time period of the book!!!

  • AP

    That’s a pretty awful picture for a book jacket, definitely worth a complaint letter to the publisher.

    However, as someone who’s seen the same book go out with a different jacket ever few years, I wouldn’t worry about it. Publishers always put something “new” on the jacket to get the book to sell, and as a result, there are tons of very high-quality books, including treasured classics, that have some ridiculously cheesy and/or totally inappropriate cover. It’s a mark of popularity: being so loved over time that the jacket has to be “updated.”

    JD Salinger was right in demanding his books be published with plain-text-only covers.

  • Pepeprcorn

    Hm. The only way I can rationalize this is by guessing that that must be Ruby Gillis on the cover. Maybe they’re trying to give some of Anne’s friends more attention.

  • Eileen

    Pepeprcorn, love. And as beautiful as this girl is, I wouldn’t pick her nose as her best feature, nor would I describe her as a stick-skinny girl who just wishes she could be more voluptuous.

  • Brandy

    Amen, sister!

    What the heck where they thinking?

  • chickadee

    Guess what the cover looks like NOW…? And at the risk of drawing commenter ire on my head, I never liked the film versions of the books either. They got people wrong, according to my imagination.

  • CrazyFor Kate

    As a Canadian, I’m especially horrified – it feels personal. Bring back Anne the Redhead!

  • A Good lookin’ red head

    … This makes no sense, if they wanted to “sexualize” Anne, then make her a sexy red-head with freckles!

  • Roberta

    As a redhead, it hurts. There are not a lot of good redheaded protagonists out there. Ariel from Little Mermaid was a lovestruck idiot, and everyone else is usually the sidekick (see Harry Potter). Anne is one of the few that is strong, smart, and very much a ginger. Come on guys, don’t kill us off already!

    • Jessie

      I don’t know if you have read this already, but hearing your lament about there not being enough redheaded protagonists has moved me to suggest a series of books: The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce. If you enjoy fantasy novels, that series is wonderful, and the main protagonist is a strong, firey redhead girl. They’re aimed at teens, but I enjoy them even as an adult. Just a friendly suggestion. :)

    • Roberta

      Whoops, knew I forgot an author. Which is a shame, because I actually have almost all of her books :”) And yeah, I love her work, I have been reading them for years, so it is sad (on my part) that I forgot her.

    • Justme

      What about Merida from Brave?

    • Roberta

      Ok, I forgot one or two characters. And she is an awesome one, I will admit. My only defence on that it I did not see the film until like 2 months ago, so I didn’t grow up with her. But she is a good example for redheads everywhere.

    • Justme

      I wasn’t upset or calling you out.

    • Roberta

      Nah, it’s cool. I am just glad that someone pointed out a major character I missed and should have written down :)

    • JGM1764

      Wasn’t Pippi Longstocking a strong redhead protagonist too?

  • Kate

    Lucky for you, if it is a family tradition then you already have a copy with a cover you approve of.

    I’m a librarian, I see a lot of book jackets, we have at least 10 different covers of To Kill A Mockingbird in our library service alone, some are really lovely, some look ridiculous, but that’s just the way it is. In a couple of years it will have a brand new jacket.

  • BlueBelle

    The cover is atrocious, but…

    The independent publisher who put this out was trying to stay afloat in a doomed market and part of that is caving and slaving to the zeitgeist. This particular edition with this particular cover has been out since 2007, though. It took 6 years and a Jezebel article (I don’t know who got to it first, but that’s the first place I saw it) to get it noticed. It’s currently listed as temporarily out of stock on Amazon and no image is available. The page is accompanied by 351 one-star ratings speaking out against the cover.

    I studied publishing in university and work in publishing now. I love the book industry with all my heart, but unfortunately the maxim of “Don’t judge a book by its cover” is not heeded as much as us avid readers would like (if it were, dust jackets wouldn’t exist in the capacity they do… and neither would strategic and priced shelf-space). The dust jacket is merely a marketing tool and this publisher, unfortunately, made a misguided design decision.

    • BlueBelle

      Oops… sorry, CreateSpace has existed since 2007. This came out in November (the Amazon site confused me). Regardless, CreateSpace is a self-publishing platform and Anne of Green Gables is in the public domain… anyone could have made this.

  • Shelly Lloyd

    Did they ever READ the book when they decided on that as the cover? It isn’t even how Anne would have pretend to look like. She always talked about “nut brown hair” or “raven tresses” But I do not recall her ever wanting to look like that.

  • Deirdre

    Lindsay, I’m absolutely with you on this! The blonde hair is so wrong. For me what’s absolutely atrocious is that pose. She’s got this sexy “come hither” thing going on that is the opposite of what Anne is all about… someone who values people for their minds and their “kindred spirit”-ness, above all else!

  • Jussame

    Anne of Green Gables is no longer under copyright, so anyone can sell the text under whatever cover they want. This version with a stock photo on the front was put out by a little self publisher probably trying to see if they could make a few bucks with no risk. There are dozens of versions of Anne of Green Gables on Amazon from different publishers all with different covers – there is no “they” who have unilaterally changed the cover of the book. I’m sure the sales of this ridico version have increases thanks to all the press this non-story is getting.

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  • Di West

    Also, pretty sure women of the time did not wear their hair down or wear plaid western shirts.

  • Samantha

    Hi, just wanted to say thanks for absolutely spoiling Anne of Green Gables. Never read them and because of all the hubbub of what a great book it is and OMG dumb blonde on the cover ruins everything, I was considering reading it until “…we all grab popcorn and pillows and sob hysterically when Matthew dies.” So yeah, I was considering it for all of two seconds but still.

    • Nyx

      Seriously, you’re complaining about ‘spoilers’? Anne of Green Gables was written in 1908 so its not like you haven’t have plenty of time to read it.

    • Jen

      I’m with you. I can’t even figure out why Samantha even bothered to comment on this. Maybe we also shouldn’t tell her that Darth Vader is Luke’s father and that Snape kills Dumbledore. Oopsie!

    • Erin

      Matthew dying isn’t really the climax of the story, and it doesn’t even happen in the first book of the series, just in case you want to consider reading the book after all.

    • Yves

      you’ve only had over 100 years to read them… are you kidding or serious with your comment? Lol these aren’t new books and most people (especially ones commenting on this article) are well acquainted with the stories by now.

    • whiteroses

      TBH, complaining about this is like complaining that someone posted about Laura and Manly getting together because “OMG they’re just like Ross and Rachel”. If the death of one character can keep you from reading one of the greatest books in the history of children’s literature, then I don’t know what to tell you. What’s next, yelling about Francie Nolan from “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” becoming a writer when the book in question is basically autobiographical? Oh, and Atticus FInch is a lawyer!!!

      Spoilers don’t exist when the aforementioned media is over 100 years old and hundreds of millions of people have grown up with the book. Sorry. I’m also sorry if this comes across as overly sarcastic, but as a past and future English teacher, stuff like this makes me stabby.

  • laura_PH

    The good news is that all of the Anne books are (legally) free for download for your ebook reader or tablet at Project Gutenberg –

  • Annie

    WAT. Wasn’t Anne kinda homely and awkward-looking, with big moony calf eyes and freckles and BRAIDS AND NO PLAID SHIRT BECAUSE OMG THAT’S SO HISTORICALLY INACCURATE I JUST POOPED MY PANTS.

  • Bibbadee

    I know. Anne is so special to me. This cover makes me see RED!!!

  • Yves

    What? The red hair is essential to the series! Clearly the publishers have no clue what the books are about. Seriously, I know it’s just a book cover and there are bigger issues out there but… this cover makes me mad! It’s just so inappropriate for the series.

  • Gee

    Unfortunately, covers like this happen all the time. I read a book where the heroine’s left arm and side were horribly scarred because her dress had caught on fire. She was very self-consious about it. It was a big deal for the story, as she felt that no-one would want her because of it. But on the cover, she’s shown lying on a bed, her left arm bare on the covers, and it looks perfect. Argh!!!

  • Kait

    Worst cover design ever. XD But it’s not as though this is a big publishing company, or that this edition is all over the bookstore shelves.