Thanks to Tundra Books for the review copy of Cybils nominee ANNE’S KINDRED SPIRITS. And congrats to author Kallie George and illustrator Abigail Halpin on your nomination!
I’ll be blunt: Writing twitter doesn’t exactly like “classic” literature. As a writer trying to get an agent, I need to watch what I say.
On top of which, having read everything L.M. Montgomery wrote in a summer and then re-read it as much as my paperback Bantam Classics would take, a “retelling” of ANNE OF GREEN GABLES was a dicey sell for me.
To be clear, there are parts ANNE OF GREEN GABLES that don’t age well ( In this specific part of the original book: Let’s be more subtle in our disdain for orphans and fat people, and be careful to direct all verbal judgement at the adults, not the kids) and I wasn’t sure how they’d translate to the pages of a kids’ book.
Further, in Anne and other of Montgomery’s books, there are a handful of lines that need to be altered or deleted, that likely wouldn’t be there had they been written today.
Clean that up though, and Anne Shirley (arguably the most imaginative character ever written) is the embodiment of Girl Power if you excuse the fact that she doesn’t code.
That politically correct disclaimer aside: The book. This section is where Anne meets Diana and narrowly escapes banishment from the church picnic.
I understand from Amazon that ANNE’S KINDRED SPIRITS is second in a chapter book series where presumably, Anne’s story is retold for readers age 6 – 8. Of course I went back and read the preview chapter of ANNE ARRIVES.
The episodic format of the original Anne means this book works as a standalone. However, taken as such, I’m not sure George got across exactly how special Anne’s and Diana’s friendship is in sanitizing these messages out. Diana reads like a shy girl who accepts the bookish orphan’s friend request for a lack of anything better to do.
That’s where Halpin’s gorgeous illustrations step in. If 2D watercolor girls could give off vibes, which Anne and Diana seem to, you can see that “there’s a girl your age down the street, go play with her and give me some peace and quiet” has become “the friendship of a lifetime and beyond.”
Even though you can read this series out of order, you do lose something in not starting with ANNE ARRIVES.
Anne’s spirit and imagination, probably what makes her so beloved 111 years later, shines through. I’m excited to read this series with my own daughter.
My Seven-Year-Old Daughter’s Take
I like both girls, but I like Anne more. I don’t think Diana really gets Anne. Ding ding ding ding!
Me: She never fully does and it goes on for eight books. But somehow it works. Big time.
Verdict: An adaptation of ANNE OF GREEN GABLES was going to be a tough sell for a die-hard L.M. Montgomery fan like me, but ANNE’S KINDRED SPIRITS is a strong gateway Anne Shirley.
ANNE’S KINDRED SPIRIT is available now from Tundra Books.