I’m the mama of a spunky, freckled redhead, so it is no wonder that I am partial to heroines like Anne Shirley, the spunky, freckled and redheaded main character of ”Anne of Green Gables” (1908) by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery.
Anne is an orphan who is sent by mistake to live with a middle-aged brother and sister on Prince Edward Island. Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert were expecting a strong young boy to help out on the farm, and at first Marilla wants to send Anne back to the orphanage. Kind-hearted Matthew convinces his sister to let Anne stay, and over the course of the book the reserved Marilla lets herself be won over by Anne’s spirit and intelligence, deciding to overlook the mischief into which Anne’s imagination often leads her.
The appeal of “Anne of Green Gables” is mostly Anne herself. Anne’s optimism and flights of fancy are delightful. Her adventures at school, her literary ambitions, her devotion to her best friend Diana, her small domestic misadventures (dyeing her hair green, for example) and her competition with fellow classmate Gilbert make for a gentle episodic storyline. The setting of Prince Edward Island also provides ample opportunity for Montgomery to describe lush orchards and winding rural roads, and reading about such a lovely location makes you wish you were riding in a horse-drawn cart alongside Anne.
Nostalgic and charming, “Anne of Green Gables” is a great choice for kids ages 9 and up.