________________ CM . . . . Volume VII Number 17 . . . . April 27, 2001

cover Anne of Green Gables.

L.M. Montgomery. Illustrated by Laura Fernandez and Rick Jacobson.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2000.
313 pp., cloth, $35.00.
ISBN 0-88776-515-7.

Subject Headings:
Orphans-Juvenile fiction.
Friendship-Juvenile fiction.
Country life-Prince Edward Island-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 3 and up / Ages 8 and up.

Review by Val Nielsen.

** /4

It would be difficult to think of a book more quintessentially Canadian, more beloved by readers of all ages around the world, than Anne of Green Gables. Between June of 1908, when it was first published, and April of 1910, no fewer than 20 impressions were made of L.M. Montgomery's instant hit. Like the 2000 version being reviewed, the 1908 publication was an illustrated one, with the pictures done by a pair of artists. There the likeness ends, however, technology being what it was in the early part of the century. Instead of the eight captioned black and white plates featured in the original edition (which sold for $1.50), this 2000 gift edition of Anne of Green Gables (at $35.00) has 12 full-colour plates created by the talented husband-wife team of Laura Fernandez and Rick Jacobson. As well, the artists have sprinkled the text with a number of delicately coloured drawings of items significant to the story, among them such things as Anne's carpet bag, an old fashioned picnic basket and Matthew's beloved pipe. The artists' incorporation of a native P.E.I. flower into the beginning capital of every chapter is an elegant touch. Indeed, the book is, on a superficial glance, a lovely one, promising the reader a visual treat.

      On closer inspection, however, a number of disappointments await readers, particularly those who are revisiting the well-loved story. Even new readers are likely to pick up some of the discrepancies between the Fernandez/Jacobson depictions and the carefully detailed descriptions found in Montgomery's prose. For instance, under no circumstances could a reader picture Anne as the rosy round-faced youngster portrayed in the first colour plate. The author writes, "Her face was small, white and thin, also much freckled...the chin was very pointed and pronounced." Although the text tells us that Anne's two braids of "...very thick, decidedly red hair" extended down her back, nowhere in the ensuing illustrations of a plump-faced little girl with shoulder-length braids do we see a heroine matching the author's description. A full colour picture of Anne venting her spleen on the outspoken Mrs. Lynde shows that worthy woman decidedly slender, despite Montgomery's description of her as "...a fat woman who always waddled." In a later chapter, "Anne's Impressions of Sunday School," the author writes that Anne, arrayed in Marilla's idea of her Sunday best-- a skimpy stiff black and white sateen dress-- is waylaid by a field of buttercups and wild roses which she picks to adorn her plain new hat. Why then, the viewer must wonder, is Anne portrayed in a full black and white checkered skirt sitting in the middle of a vast field of flowers, none of which are buttercups or wild roses? In a scene from "An Unfortunate Lily Maid," where Anne, now 13 going on 14, plays the Lady of the Lake by floating down the river on a dory, the artists show her looking about six years old. In the penultimate chapter, we see Anne grown up (looking remarkably like Megan Follows) as she strokes the dead Matthew's brow. The beard that, according to the author, Matthew has worn all his life, is absent. Perhaps the artists' interpretation, which seems to be drawn more from the television mini-series than what the publisher calls "Lucy Maud Montgomery's immortal text" is a deliberate attempt to make the story more appealing to the new generation of readers. However it is hard to refrain from thinking that Fernandez and Jacobson would have served readers of all ages better had they spent as much time studying Montgomery's words as they did researching the flowers of P.E.I.

      L.M. Montgomery's granddaughter has written a fine foreword to the novel, pointing out the reasons for the enduring appeal of Anne of Green Gables. It is perhaps significant that she makes no mention of the illustrations of this latest edition.

      Certainly this attractive looking volume will enhance any display of Canadian children's classics. If, however, library budgets are restricted (as they so often are these days), it might be wiser for middle and junior high school librarians to by-pass the expensive illustrated gift-edition of Anne of Green Gables and purchase $35.00 worth of paper back copies of the L.M. Montgomery novels. An optional purchase.

Recommended with Reservations.

Valerie Nielsen is a retired teacher-librarian who lives in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364