Few news items have caused such outrage among my peers this week as the revelation that on a new book cover, our beloved (and auburn-tressed) Anne of Green Gables has gone blond.
Maybe you, like my facebook friends, find this “terribly wrong,” “thoroughly disturbing,” tear-inducing, nausea-inducing, and/or rage-inducing; or maybe, like one of my fellow Christ and Pop Culture writers, you’re saying, “Isn’t Anne of Green Gables just Twilight for Canadians? Or for 5th grade homeschoolers?” (I was a fourth-grade homeschooler when I read it, thank you very much). Either way, this is a travesty of enormous proportions.
Girls growing up with a blond Anne of Green Gables will get their hair color stereotypes all wrong. They’ll believe that the definition of “auburn” is yellow, and that blondes, rather than having more fun, or being air-heads, are actually the feisty ones. Our deep-rooted belief in the red-head as spirited and creative will be overthrown; she’ll be blonde, now.
The cause of friction between young Anne and Gilbert becomes much more vague, given this new color. When he called her “carrots,” was it due to colorblindness? If so, wasn’t Anne’s reaction a bit mean-spirited?
Doubtless, young readers will also be confused about the definition of “puffed sleeves,” guessing from the cover that “puffed” must be a synonym for plaid. Readers may intuit that Canadians must mature much more quickly than Americans, given that the full-figured cover model is their best depiction of a scrawny preteen.
I get that every generation has interpreted Anne a little differently. But as Josie Leavitt at Publisher’s Weekly explained earlier this week, covers should at least display some sense of historical accuracy, textual accuracy, and appropriate mood. This Anne looks like “she’s the kind of kid who would sneak out of her boarding school to smoke cigarettes with the math teacher,” not the kind who would reenact “The Lady of Shallot”.
Or, like the atrocious new cover for Sylvia Plath’s classic The Bell Jar, maybe this is just what publishers think women will buy (though frankly, this cover seems to appeal more to the men I’ve shown it to than the women).
If our Anne-girl were here, she’d remind us: Every day is fresh, with no mistakes in it, even for you, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. It’s not too late to change, or at least to find a better stock photo to use. But as you’re searching the stock photo archives, remember this: we don’t need diamond sunbursts, or marble halls: we just need Anne.