Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel, adapted by Mariah Marsden and illustrated by Brenna Thummler, 231 pp, RL 4
Something I think about often since I started working as an elementary school librarian is the relevance today of classic children's books and books that I loved as a child, especially because the student population I serve is significantly more racially diverse than the books from my childhood. The personal experiences and cultural references that allowed me to access books like Harriet the Spy and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler when I was a kid, even though I never been to New York City and the Metropolitan Museum of Art and had never had a chocolate egg cream or seen an automat like Horn & Hardarts, I had enough information under my belt to comprehend the stories being told. My students are removed from these stories both by time and experience today and, even though it is ridiculously easier to learn about something you don't know in our digital age, there is still a lot of unpacking that needs to be done for these books to be meaningful and relevant. While I work endlessly to find diverse books for my library that will allow my students to see themselves on the pages, I also work to make books that I love and find to have literary significance accessible to my students. Which is why I love graphic novels. From Hope Larson's adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time to Gareth Hind's adaptation of The Odyssey, the visuals of the graphic novel give my students the information they need to understand story being told even if they don't comprehend all of the cultural and historical aspects of the stories.
Maybe it's because of the vivid imagination of the main character and the idyllic geographical setting of the story, or, more likely, the fact that my reading of the book for the first time (I was in college) coincided with my viewing of the 1985 CBC mini-series starring Megan Follows (and Colleen Dewhurst and Richard Farnsworth ARE Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert), but Lucy Maude Montgomery's classic Anne of Green Gables is a book that is made for visual representation. I am extremely happy to report that Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel, adapted by Mariah Marsden and magnificently illustrated by Brenna Thummler, is superbly, supremely, beautifully brought to life on the page. Marsden's adaptation distills the story, showing readers that Anne stands out - and is an outsider - for more than just her red hair. And, the dedication, "To Lucy Maude Montgomery, who reminds us that nothing is more powerful than a girl with an imagination."
Marsden's skilled adaptation allows for several panels and pages that are wordless, letting the natural world of Avonlea do the talking. Thummler also uses one and two page spreads that serve as chapter breaks, or mark significant moments in the story, bookending the graphic novel with twelve-panel pages that are like snapshots from the story, moments from Green Gables. Thummler's muted but verdant palette lets Anne's hair pop off the page but also shifts with the seasons in stunning ways. I love Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel almost as much as I love the original book (and the CBC mini-series) and believe it's a testament to Lucy Maude Montgomery and her creation, Anne Shirley, that her work can be reinterpreted in different mediums over the decades and continue to be successful and adored. To my mental keepsake box of moments from Anne of Green Gables I now add Thummler's magical two-page spread and Marsden's well chosen words, "I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."
SOURCE: PURCHASED AT
THE STRAND BOOKSTORE in NYC