Parenting

50 Shades of Green Gables

Today's Parent contributor Marci O'Connor is unhappy with the front cover of the current edition of Anne of Green Gables.

Photo via amazon.ca

Do you remember that scene in Anne Of Green Gables where Anne leans back seductively as she gives fellow classmate Gilbert Blythe a come-hither glance that whispers promises of a tumble in the hay?

Yeah, neither do I — because it didn’t happen. You wouldn’t know it, though, from the cover of self-publisher CreateSpace’s new edition of the children’s classic, Anne of Green Gables.

I first read the series in grade six. I won a copy in a contest at school, and the teacher presented it to me in front of the whole class. I remember I was embarrassed, thinking the series was too babyish for me. So it sat on my shelf, gathering dust for months before I finally caved (a book unread in my house? Never!). Just a few chapters in I was hooked, proud as never before of my freckles and red hair — just like Anne’s. As if by sharing those physical characteristics with Anne, I had also developed her sense of adventure and imagination. It turns out the Anne trilogy wasn’t babyish, just refreshingly innocent.

So, I was disheartened (and disgusted!) to read Josie Leavitt’s article about the new cover design currently being sold. The updated front cover shows an unfamiliar Anne. In this version, she is a peaches n’ cream blond rather than a freckled-faced redhead (fans of the series will know how much these characteristics shape the tone of the stories). I appreciate that in a dwindling market booksellers must pay heed to marketing demands and sale expectations, but it should not be at the expense of the spirit of a book and its characters.

Leavitt explains that a book cover should, among other things, reflect the nature and time period of the book. It should also reflect the tone of the story and pull the reader in. I agree on all counts. I also think we need to be sensitive to the age of the reader. Although loved by many, the series is geared towards the younger crowd. How disappointing for them that they are being pandered to in this way. As parents, we spend a lot of energy navigating through an increasingly sexualized landscape. And, more so than simply being inaccurate, this cover feels unnecessarily sexualized to me.

We are taught not to judge a book by its cover, but what happens when the cover presented is clearly (and deliberately) not a reflection of its content? Would you have a problem buying this edition for your child?

FILED UNDER: