Two aging siblings. A misplaced orphan. One sleepy Canadian town that will never be the same.
Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert finally came to the decision that they needed help. The two of them simply cannot handle all the work that their farm, Green Gables, requires. Since neither had married or had any children, they plan to adopt an orphaned boy to share the load—much to the chagrin of town busy body Rachel Lynde. Imagine Matthew’s surprise when he pulls up to the train station to find not a young boy, but instead a fiery-haired, freckle-faced Anne Shirley. This mistake will end up changing their, and their town’s, lives forever.
In Mariah Marsden’s adaption of the classic by L.M. Montgomery, readers will become transported to the sleepy town of Avonlea on Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia. Here, we get to experience all the ups and downs of Anne’s new life. The harrowing night spent while she waits to find out if Matthew and Marilla will send her away. The delight in discovering the Great White Way, the Lake of Shining Waters, and her new bosom friend, Diana. Along with the sweet, comes the sour, and for Anne that means learning how to handle meddling old women, an obnoxious school boy who pulls her hair, and what to do when her new best friend is banned from associating with her. Anne Shirley is full of charm and more than a few sparks of the imagination, and it won’t take the reader long to be won over by both her and Avonlea.
What will really hook the readers and make them wish that they were running alongside Anne as her kindred spirit is Brenna Thummler’s illustrations. The soft colors and expressive faces of Thummler’s work draws the reader in; you will swear you too can smell Bonny the geranium’s soft fragrance or feel the bony hands of the ghost in the Haunted Woods. Her style and the palette she chose are the perfect complement to Marsden’s dialogue and in fact does much of the heavy lifting in the storytelling.
While Marsden’s and Thummler’s adaptation will be sure to win over new readers and longtime fans alike, it is missing the noise, the clatter, and the unending gabbing of Anne. The creators do a splendid job of capturing the quiet moments of the story and of developing Avonlea as a place, but where they fall short is in developing Anne and her friends and family as people. The text reads as almost a Cliff Notes version of the book. You will still experience the highs and lows of Anne’s new life, but without the same connection that you get from the original. Her harsh reaction to Mrs. Lynde, her breaking the tablet over Gilbert’s head, and the like all seem like tantrums when you don’t have the insight to her past or her self image problems. I really missed the opportunity to be swept up by her sparks of imagination, her rambling stories, and her obsession for puffed sleeves.
For old fans of Anne, this book will be a wonderful way to dip in and relive their original Green Gables experience in just an hour or two. But unfortunately, for readers new to Anne, they may be left wondering what all the fuss is about. Despite this shortcoming, I still believe that this graphic novel deserves a place on your shelf. It is perfect for middle grade and tween readers of historical fiction or those adults who want to stop in and revisit their bosom friend, Anne.
Anne of Green Gables
by Mariah Marsden
Art by Brenna Thummler
Andrew McMeel Publishing, 2017
Publisher Age Rating: MG (7-11), Tween (10-13)