With this year marking the 110th anniversary of the publication of Canadian author L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, there has been no shortage of attention given to the plucky, redheaded heroine of one of the most iconic children's series of all time. Anne is the subject of a Netflix series entering its second season this fall, and Anne of Green Gables also appeared on PBS's recent The Great American Read. She is also being given new life in a series of titles from Tundra Books to be published in the U.S. and Canada. Two board books, Kelly Hill's Anne's Colors and Anne's Numbers, are already available. Two more books will publish in September: Goodnight, Anne, a picture book written by Kallie George with illustrations by Geneviève Godbout, and Anne Arrives, the first book in an early reader series adapted by George from the original novels, with illustrations by Abigail Halpin.
The character's current appeal and the conviction that Anne has a great deal to offer new fans are what inspired Tundra to revisit Anne in these new titles. Noting that Anne has long been geared to middle grade readers, Tara Walker, v-p and publisher, Penguin Random House Canada Young Readers, says she and her team want "to bring Anne to all ages."
"Most of us had read the Anne books as middle graders," Walker says. "But Anne herself is a character that younger readers will fall in love with, too." With this in mind, Walker says, Tundra set out to "introduce Anne to toddlers, preschoolers, and picture book–age children."
For the toddlers, Tundra is publishing Anne's Numbers and Anne's Colors, which feature beautiful hand-embroidered images. These books are meant to be "very tactile, a style that resonates" with the youngest readers. The picture book, Goodnight, Anne, is written and drawn with "a soft, dreamy quality perfectly suited to a bedtime story," Walker says. Anne Arrives takes its inspiration from Montgomery's original book, with a story about Anne's struggles and triumphs as she adapts to life on the Cuthberts' farm. Halpin's artwork, Walker says, is "very classic" and shows "a fine attention to details that a slightly older reader can appreciate."
The strength of the artwork in the new Anne titles will be a lynchpin of Tundra's marketing efforts. Art from all four titles will appear in various promotional items—from posters to luggage tags—that stores will be able to use as giveaways and in contests. A deluxe consumer prize package will also be unveiled in the fall, featuring items, such as a tea towel, created in partnership with Anne Arrives illustrator Halpin. Tundra will also be working with Netflix, promoting its books alongside the streaming service's popular family show, Anne with an E, whose second season is set to air in the fall.
Walker, who fondly recalls discovering Anne as a small-town Canadian girl, says she "deeply identified with, and adored, the spirited, romantic, irrepressible" redhead she found in Montgomery's original books. And it is that spirited character that Tundra wants to bring to today's young readers. With all its new Anne titles, the publisher strives to "maintain Anne's effervescent spirit and worldview."
Keeping the character of Anne intact was also key, because Walker feels she will be particularly resonant with today's young readers. "I think we need characters like Anne," she says. "Her confidence, strong sense of justice, fierce intelligence, and love of nature and her fellow human beings are all qualities that feel more important now than ever."