RIP Anne “Carrots” Shirley, 1908 – 2013

Dear CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (aka Amazon),

We need to talk. About this:

I’d like to give you the benefit of the doubt here. I really would. I mean, if you’d never read the books, knew nothing about them, literally went about creating an updated cover based on nothing but the title then maybe, MAYBE, I could see how we got here. But lets face it guys – you’re in publishing. Says so in your name. You’re gonna try and tell me that at no time in this process did anyone in the organization stop and go “Wait, isn’t this chick supposed to be a redhead? And isn’t this a children’s book? We might need to rethink this…”? Someone, somewhere had to at least be AWARE of everything that is wrong with this, right?

Look, I get the concept of trying to get modern youngsters to read the classics by making them seem more relatable. I don’t agree with it, I think it’s further evidence that our civilization is slowly but surely degrading, but on a completely pragmatic level, I get it. You want kids to read! I want kids to read! Kids should be reading Anne of Green Gables, it’s a wonderful book and Anne Shirley is a relatable and admirable heroine for all young girls. What I don’t get is why an “updated” cover has to have a blonde teen instead of a redheaded kid; what exactly are you trying to say? How is that a modern imagining of Anne? Because that up there? That is not Anne Shirley. That is just offensive.

Yeah, I’m offended by this. I’m offended by the suggestion that a sexy blonde is more relatable to little girls than a freckle-faced redhead. I’m offended that a teenage model was selected to vamp and pose when she’s supposed to represent an eleven year old girl. I’m offended that a publishing company, people who work in BOOKS, could know so little about a classic piece of children’s literature that they’d miss the mark so completely on who the main character is. Do you not understand how crucial Anne’s red hair is to her life? How it is a major factor in her temper, her vanity, her imagination, everything that makes her our favourite little Anne with a “e”? It is that red hair that leads to her blowup with Rachel Lynde; to her accidentally dying her hair green in a fit of vanity; to that fateful moment when Gilbert Blythe calls her “Carrots” and gets a slate broken over his head, providing the impetus for one of the sweetest literary love stories I’ve ever read. It is that red hair that makes Anne… Anne.

Oh, and this may have escaped your notice, but Anne? She’s a CHILD. A precocious, imaginative, 11-year-old orphan who daydreams about fairies and talks to imaginary friends that live in her mirror. She is young and she is innocent and she most certainly is NOT a buxom blonde teenager chillin’ in a haystack. If anything, that’s something Ruby Gillis would do in her later years, amiright? (You probably don’t get that, but trust me, if you’d read the books you’d get a chuckle out of that reference).

But hey, maybe this is just an honest mistake. Maybe this is an entire publishing company comprised of people who’ve never cracked open a book in their life. I suppose it’s possible. But if I might make a suggestion? Maybe you could try at least skimming the books you publish before dreaming up covers as disappointing and heartbreaking as this. You work in PUBLISHING. This book is a CLASSIC. Get your shit together. And if you do decide to finally give this book a read, I suggest starting with Chapter 27: “Vanity and Vexation of Spirit.” It’ll give you some wonderful insight into why trying to change Anne’s hair colour is never a good idea.

Oh, and for the record? If the thought process was that little girls would prefer a blonde heroine over a redhead, I’d just like to say that as a blonde child, there was nothing in the world I wanted more than to be just like Anne Shirley – right down to her ginger locks. Which is probably why in high school I went from this:

To this:

And never looked back.


Sandra, a true Kindred Spirit


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