Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Thanks to Sarah Rettger for pointing out an article in Newsweek about Anne of Green Gables.

Are you sitting down?

I love Anne. Love her, the book, all the books. I own every one of Lucy Maud Montgomery's journals.

And this quote by a so-called Anne scholar had me scream so loud my sister next door wanted to know what was wrong (and then offered ice cream.) Here it is in context, with me bolding the bit that pissed (and Sarah) off.

"That "Anne" has survived so long—and, with 50 million copies sold, so strong—is a small miracle considering the state of young-adult literature. It's rare to find a best seller with a strong heroine anymore, in large part because, although girls will read books about boys, boys won't go near a girl's book, no matter how cool she is. Even in Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" series, the strong, grounded Bella is willing to chuck it all for the love of her vampire boyfriend. "The literary smart girl is still showing up in literature, but she's often the sidekick," says Trinna Frever, an "Anne of Green Gables" scholar. "It is a reflection of a culture that's placing less value on intelligence, and also treating intelligence as a stigmatized quality." As smart as Anne is, you aren't likely to find her in a classroom, either. She has survived largely through mothers who pass the book on to their daughters."

Sarah has a list of smart heroines, and I'll just add, without links, the following smart girls in NYT bestsellers:

Cami in Ally Carter's Gallagher Girl series
Liesl in Markus Zusak's The Book Thief (not book smart, but I think she has Anne's tenacity)
Meggie in the Inkheart books
The sisters in the Penderwicks

OK, I'm going to stop trying to find past NYT Bestseller lists, but my point is just a cursory look at these lists show smart girls.

Trinna Frever may know Anne. And she may know what it is about Anne that we love. But she does not know today's books for children and teens.

Plus: Anne is a classic.
She doesn't NEED to be promoted by using it in a classroom! She is a joy to discover and read on one's own.


Other than that bit, it's actually a really good article about Anne. And I love the bit wondering why Anne isn't taught in college classrooms, like Tom Sawyer.

Happy Birthday, Anne!

Edited to add: Found a must read blog for other Anne lovers: Blogging Anne of Green Gables.


Carlie Webber said...

Great minds think alike! I was writing this as you were posting:



Ally Carter said...

I'm honored that the Gallagher Girls made your list!

Thanks for all YOU do to bring today's girls and today's (and yesterday's) books together!


Anonymous said...


I have been struggling with this very issue myself. I'm worried that this attitude (boys won't read books with girl main characters) is even more insidious, implying that stories about girls are somehow less important and worthwhile than stories about boys.

I don't have any answers, just tons of questions and I very much appreciate your post.

And, with the news about the movie version of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, it would seem that at least ONE boy (Danny DeVito) read the book.


andalucy said...

This Anne scholar obviously hasn't read the Kiki Strike books. Sad for her.

But yeah, very good point about Anne not getting the same status as Huck Finn.

Anonymous said...

I hate the boys-won't-read-books about-girls myth. Really? So Golden Compass and Inkheart-- two books where the main hero is female-- had no boy readers? That doesn't sound right.

Mary Lee said...

YIKES! This "scholar" needs to get out of the office and read a few other books now and then! (Or read this blog!!)

Anonymous said...

I have to say I'm getting slightly irritable with the recent rash of people talking smack about my beloved YA genre without actually, you know, reading any of it first. Other than TWILIGHT. God knows they've all read TWILIGHT, so now they're cross-over geniuses.