Recently, while house-cleaning, the mother of one of our students came upon a lovely souvenir plate from Staffordshire, England. Since it depicted the famous Green Gables house, she sent it to the school and I was promptly urged to create an “Anne of Green Gables” display for the showcase in the front hall of our school. During noon hour, I found several Anne picture books, the original series and even an Anne doll. Before the bell rang in the afternoon, several little girls were already gathered around, eyeing my little exhibit.
How many generations of girls have grown up loving the delightful, red-haired, chattery orphan girl adopted by Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert? In my childhood, I missed out on the charming Anne. Our school copies of L. M. Montgomery’s novels were somewhat tattered and worn by the time I was introduced to them. I clearly recall my sister Linda showing me “Anne of Windy Poplars” one summer and urging me to read it. “It’s a really good book!” Unfortunately, I was deprived of Anne’s escapades, since I “judged the book by its cover.”
Several years ago, when we were still in our old school, I read a condensed version to my primary class. My students were totally engrossed in the story-line. They laughed at Anne’s childish capers, grumbled about Marilla’s stern ways and mourned Matthew’s passing. The latter is especially memorable for me. I was reading them the sad chapter of Matthew passing away, at the end of the day. The atmosphere in my classroom was not unlike that of a funeral. When the chapter ended, my students somberly got up and walked to the hallway to put on their boots and coats. The older students were also there, getting ready to go home. One of the little girls in my classroom sadly shared the news, “Matthew passed away,” in the same tone she would have used, had a favourite uncle died.
“Matthew? What colony is he from?” an older student questioned.
“Oh,” came the response with the wave of an uncaring hand. “That’s not so bad then.”
Clearly he had not been introduced to “Anne of Green Gables” yet.
I’ve since listened to the entire series while scrap-booking and thoroughly enjoyed every word of it. I’ve read this book to other classes and showed them the movie and plan to introduce our current generation of students to our 'Anne with an “e”.'
And I especially look forward to introducing "Anne of Green Gables" to my two- year-old niece, our very own red-headed Annette Shirley.