Monday, July 27, 2009

Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery

When I pick a new book to read to my daughter, she often fights me for the first several chapters. She hates reading about conflict, and since that's the central premise of literature, she's hard pressed to find anything beyond a picture book that doesn't make her uncomfortable. When she reads on her own, she just skips the parts that make her nervous, but when I read I won't skip and she spends lots of time burying her head under pillows, plugging her ears, and muttering to herself, "Okay, okay, okay."

We had just finished the book we were reading together and I suggested Anne of Green Gables as our next one. She wanted to know what it was about, so I read the back of the book to her. When she realized that there might be conflict associated with being an unwanted orphan, she refused to listen. Since my best parenting skill is my steadfast refusal to do what my kids want, I made her listen to the first chapter. By the end of it, she was a great fan of Anne Shirley and wanted to hear the rest of the story.

It was a hard book to read to a kid because of the vocabulary. The problem is, if we wait until she's in high school and knows what words like "queer" and "presently" and "rapturously" mean, she won't be interested in the story anymore. This especially sucks because she ended up loving the book so much and wants to read the other 12 books about Anne that Montgomery wrote. With Ivy and Bean she could move on and read the books on her own, but with Anne, if she's reading the other books it's because I'm reading them to her. Sure, I enjoyed the book more than I thought I would, but asking an adult man to read the entire Anne Shirley cannon is a bit much, I think.

I was surprised that the story moved so quickly. Laura Ingalls Wilder took eight books to get from her childhood to her marriage, and with 13 books in the Anne series, I figured L.M. Montgomery would do the same. However, this one book covers the entire time from Anne coming to Green Gables to her graduating from school and getting a teaching position. I wonder if Lucy Maud used up all the good stuff in the first book and the subsequent ones will have a major drop in quality.

One aspect of the story that has been useful to us is how Anne and Diana tell themselves stories about the Haunted Wood and get themselves too scared to go there anymore. They get in trouble for it and are ashamed. Since both of our older kids are "too scared" to be on a floor of the house without at least one other awake person on the same floor, we now have plenty of chances to say, "Remember about Anne and the Haunted Wood?"

Rating: 5.5 out of 7 giant inflatable monkeys.

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