Anne 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.