Anne of Green Gables Goes Blond?! (Let’s judge a book by its cover)

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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.

Look, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (an Amazon company for self-publishing endeavors), we get that Lucy Maud Montgomery’s books are in the public domain now, and anyone can print them.  But if you’re hoping to make a profit on your publication, you might consider cracking the book before you re-print it.  Or at least using Google to get your facts straight.

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.

About Amy Lepine Peterson

Amy Lepine Peterson teaches ESL Writing and American Pop Culture at Taylor University, but spends most of her time making a home in the cornfields for her best-friend-husband and two (frankly adorable) children. Look for her with a french press of coffee and a book or a screen, plus a little one on her lap, thinking about education, mothering, theology, tv, movies, music, and sustainable habits of living.

  • http://derekzrishmawy.com Derek Rishmawy

    My sister loved the Anne of Green Gables books, which means that I, as her little brother, grew up with the two movies. Even I’m annoyed by this. (facepalm)

  • http://www.amylepinepeterson.com Amy Lepine Peterson

    My husband grew up with two sisters, and he too caught and understood every reference in my article. I appreciate your annoyance.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/pgepps pgepps

    This is really dull and awful. The cover definitely suggests that the marketing department had never read the works *or* seen the movies. (I liked the movies, but my sister read the books. I couldn’t hack LMM’s purple prose, preferring Austen.) The cover’s representation of Anne as a buxom farm lass born & bred of hardy Minnesota Viking stock is bound to betray prurient boys to frustration and disappointment; I cannot imagine that it will appeal to the book’s target audience, who are bound to resent the cover if they love the character.

  • http://www.sometimesalight.com Hannah Anderson

    Looks more like Josie Pye…

    Thanks for a great piece and lots of nostalgia.

  • http://joannamuses.com Joanna

    Glad I’m not the only one who has been bemused and confused by some of the Anne of Green gables series covers out there!

  • http://dlmayfield.wordpress.com D.L. Mayfield

    the only way i can deal with this is by believing it is some sort of prank. please.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/anne-of-green-gables Treasures By Brenda

    If it was controversy they wanted, they are certainly getting it though I don’t think they’ll be selling many books.

  • Faith Meredith

    Clearly it must be Ruby Gillis. Although why they’d put Ruby on the cover is beyond me!!


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