Book Review: Anne’s Colors and Anne’s Numbers by Kelly Hill

I am an absolute sucker for embroidered illustrations.

"Anne's Colors"

Not that I knew these books were illustrated in needlework when I requested them from the library to read as part of Carrie’s L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge.

All I knew was that they were board books based on the Anne books – and that I hadn’t read them yet.

"Anne's Numbers"

Now that I have read them, I want the original needlework from each page framed in my bedroom. They’re great. I’ve flipped through the pages time and time again, wondering if I could trace the designs onto fabric and replicate them. Is that a violation of copyright? Even if I’m just intending to use them in my own home?

It really doesn’t matter because I don’t have time to embroider myself a set of Anne illustrations. But I still wonder.


"Pink cheeks" with image of Gilbert pulling Anne's hair

For now, I’m thrilled to be able to use the illustrations to share my favorite Anne-ecdotes with my children (who are as yet much too young for the real thing!)

Tirzah Mae is utterly delighted to hear of an orange-headed girl who smashed her slate over a teasing boy’s head – and of a friend who accidentally made her friend sick by giving her WINE instead of juice!

"Red cordial" with image of Anne and Diana at a tea-table

“Remember the girl who made her friend sick by ACCIDENT?” she’ll ask me. “She wasn’t trying to make her sick, she just accidentally gave her the wrong drink.”

If you can only obtain one, choose Anne’s Colors which illustrates specific stories from Anne of Green Gables. Anne’s Numbers, while charming, consists mostly of Anne in non-specific nature settings.

L. M. Montgomery Reading Challenge

Book Review: Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel adapted by Mariah Marsden and illustrated by Brenna Thummler

“They” say that a picture is worth a thousand words. And maybe “they” are right – for most people.

For me?

"Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel"

The written word is my heart language. Pictures are generally lost on me. So much so that the only way I can dream of understanding a movie (even if I’m paying it my full attention) is if I’ve got subtitles on.

Perhaps it’s needless to say that graphic novels aren’t really my thing.

But when the time came around for Carrie’s L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge, I searched the library for something I hadn’t read – and found this little (229 pages) graphic novel.

I read it in about three sittings (give or take) and adored it.

Marsden does an excellent job of shortening Anne’s speech while keeping its “Anne-ness” intact. Thummler does a great job of depicting the setting, actions, and emotions of the various scenes. It’s all well done.

Anne smashing the slate over Gilbert's head

I’m fairly certain, though, that my enjoyment of this adaptation has everything to do with it being an adaptation of a familiar story. Would I have understood what was going on if this was my first exposure to Anne? I doubt so. Would someone else? Possibly. But even as much as I enjoyed this adaptation, I wouldn’t recommend it as a first exposure to Anne. Montgomery herself should be allowed to introduce her own character.

L. M. Montgomery Reading Challenge

Rating: 4 stars
Category: Graphic Novel adaptation
Synopsis: Anne of Green Gables in graphic novel format. Done well.
Recommendation: Fun for fans of Anne, possibly also a nice option for a struggling-ish reader who has already heard Anne read aloud (Maybe?) Not a suitable substitute for actually reading L.M. Montgomery.

L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge Wrap Up

L. M. Montgomery Reading ChallengeDoes anyone else accidentally call this the “Anne of Green Gables Challenge”?

I know that L.M. Montgomery has written other things. I’ve read those other things (all that my library owns, at least). But “Anne” will still (and always) be my favorite and the first to pop into my mind when L.M. Montgomery is mentioned.

And so, this year, I read Anne. Anne 1 and Anne 2, otherwise known as Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea.

I wrote a few posts with quotes as I went:

  • On Taking Risks
  • Regarding Bedrooms
  • On Contentment
  • Addie doll with carpetbag

    And I made one more piece for my small collection of Anne paraphernalia.

    This year, though, I’m doing something special. I’m making a second of this lovely carpet bag to share with ONE OF YOU!

    Addie doll with carpetbag

    That’s right. I’m giving one of these away.

    If you want to win, simply post a comment below. I’ll be keeping the comments open until February 10 (because surely I’m not the only one who sometimes takes FOREVER to get around to all the link-ups in a challenge like this!) and will draw a name from among the commenters on the tenth.

    So now, get commenting–and get yourself over to Carrie’s L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge page to see what others did for the challenge!

WiW: Taking Risks

Yesterday being the first of January, I also knew it to be the first of the L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge. I duly began Anne of Green Gables, which I intend to re-read, along with its sequel Anne of Avonlea over the course of this month. (I also intend to complete at least one additional article of clothing for my doll wardrobe based on the Anne series).

Early on in Anne of Green Gables I came across a passage that’s never really stuck out to me before, but which certainly stuck out this time. Marilla is explaining to Mrs. Lynde why she agreed to adopt a boy from Nova Scotia, despite the risks:

“And as for risk, there’s risks in pretty near everything a body does in this world. There’s risks in people’s having children of their own if it comes to that–they don’t always turn out well.

It’s true. Everything in this world comes with risks. It’s risky to adopt, but it’s also risky to have one’s own children. It’s risky to fly, but it’s also risky to drive. Exercise is risky, but so is being sedentary.

This life is full of risks, some small and some large.

Not that our emotions always know which is which.

Most of us probably recognize that driving a car is quite risky, just as risky as flying in an airplane. But that doesn’t stop some of us from being massively fearful of flying while being completely nonchalant about driving.

Many expressed terror when I told them I was skydiving last year–when, in fact, skydiving isn’t anywhere near as risky (statistically) as many presume it to be.

And then there’s the risk of not taking risks. I read a study once (that I probably have bookmarked or saved somewhere but don’t know where) that suggests that people who do not die taking risks live longer for having taken them. It seems that calculated risk taking can actually, paradoxically, be good for us.

So how does one determine which risks to take and which to avoid?

Marilla took this one out of a sense of duty, at first:

“I don’t deny there’s something in what you say, Rachel. I’ve had some qualms myself. But Matthew was terrible set on it. I could see that, so I gave in. It’s so seldom Matthew sets his mind on anything that when he does I always feel it’s my duty to give in.”

Later, when things didn’t turn out as expected, she made the final decision to keep Anne when she realized that if she chose the lest risky option for herself (giving Anne up), it would mean great risk for Anne (living with “that Blewett woman”).

Ultimately, I think, the Christian has the perfect grid for evaluating risk-taking.

As I taught my Sunday School children yesterday, God is sovereign. Sovereign means that He is the ruler, in control of all things. We discussed how this is a scary thing for the person who does not trust in Jesus, because God hates sin. But we also discussed how this is good news for the person who trusts in Jesus–because God has already said what His plans are for the people who trust in Jesus. God has said that His plan is to conform them into the image of Christ.

So the Christian can evaluate every risk by asking the question: “Has God commanded it?” If so, whatever the earthly risks, there is a heavenly benefit far surpassing: that the believer will be conformed to the image of Christ. Beyond this, the believer can evaluate risks using the grid of I Corinthians 6:12 and 10:23-24: Is this permissible? Is this beneficial? Is this going to bring me under its mastery? Is it going to do good for another?

Presuming that a risk fits those criterion (it’s permissible, beneficial, and does good for another while not bringing you under its own mastery), it is a worthwhile risk.

After all, as my pastor occasionally says, “We’re immortal until God decides our life is over.”

The Week in WordsL. M. Montgomery Reading ChallengeDon’t forget to take a look at Barbara H’s meme “The Week in Words”, where bloggers collect quotes they’ve read throughout the week–and Carrie’s L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge to see what everyone else is working on.

Nightstand (February 2011)

I feel like I’ve slid comfortably back into my reading groove this month, probably because I’ve given myself permission to ignore the internet and cleaning. So, my house may be filthy and my Google Reader rather stuffed–but my Nightstand is still moving!

Crate of library books

This month, I made it through:

Anastasia Krupnik by Lois Lowry
Picked up while trolling the library for unfamiliar children’s fiction. Not sure exactly what I think of it. I wonder if Anastasia Krupnik, published in 1979, was the origin of brat literature for youngsters? It’s definitely not the “good kids get into scrapes because they forget/ignore the rules/common-sense while chasing a mystery” of the era prior (Think Boxcar children, Trixie Belden, etc.) Anastasia’s parents, a poet and an artist, are indulgently negligent; Anastasia is an only child, a precocious soul, and a brat. Hmmph.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
I finished it only a few days late for that wrap-up post for Carrie’s L.M. Montgomery Reading challenge.

Baby Proof by Emily Giffin
Chick lit of a different sort. She’s got the guy. Finally found someone who agrees with her about not wanting kids. And then he decides he might just want a little one. And she divorces him. She is NOT going to have kids. Decentish on the chick-lit level, a step above Bridget Jones and Shopaholic, but still far from meaningful.

Bright-sided : how the relentless promotion of positive thinking has undermined America by Barbara Ehrenreich
Possibly the first book to ever merit zero stars in my highly subjective rating system. It could have been a good book, if Ehrenreich had kept her socio-political agenda out of it. But I think that’s one hope that I’ve just got to let die. She can’t do it.

Composting by Liz Ball
Yes. I read about composting. I compost in my backyard. I used to have composting worms under my sink. And I catch the humor in discussing a “hot pile” just a little too late to keep me from seriously explaining how the ratio of carbon to nitrogen effects the heat of said piles. I’m glad the Bible study gals (and John) are willing to accept me, quirks and all!

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards
You know those books that just suck you in and demand that you keep reading until all hours of the morning? The Memory Keeper’s Daughter is one of those. It’s all about how one choice changed a whole family, rippled out to affect whole communities. It’s a terrific story. This book originally went on my TBR list based on Colloquium’s review.

Warsaw Requiem and London Refrain by Bodie Thoene
My love affair with these books continues. It’s probably a good thing that I’ve forced some balance into my reading diet by giving myself a rubric for checking things out. Otherwise, I’m pretty sure I’d be reading these and only these until I’m through to the end!

Wasteland by Francesca Lia Block
Easily the weirdest book I’ve ever read. Written in first person stream of consciousness from three different characters perspective, this novel explores a brother and sister who struggle against a growing attraction for one another before, finally, the brother commits suicide. The plot is weird, the writing style is weird, the imagery within is weird. It’s just a weird book. Billed as YA, this is nothing I’ll be recommending to any of my “young adult” (read “teenage”) friends.

18 (at least) Children’s Picture Books author name BA-BASE
Unlike Carrie’s reading challenge, where she skips any books that aren’t at the library when she and her family goes, my challenge means I have to actually read EVERY book in my no-longer-local branch. So I’ve been playing catch up, filling in those missing books I didn’t read during my first pass.

Pile of books I'm in the middle of

With four weeks left on this last trip’s library haul, I’ve got a stack I’m in the middle of…

  • Confessions by St. Augustine
  • The factastic book of 1001 lists by Russell Ash
  • Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton
  • The Liturgical Year by Joan Chittister and Phyllis Tickle
  • The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges
  • The Shallows by Nicholas Carr

And a stack in the wings for when I’m done with those!

Still to be read books

Don’t forget to drop by 5 Minutes 4 Books to see what others are reading this month!

What's on Your Nightstand?

The Closing Bell (L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge)

Carrie has official sounded the closing bell for the L.M. Montgomery reading challenge–declaring that it’s time for everyone to link up.

The bell caught me by surprise, with plenty left unfinished.

Despite frantically reading a bit more this afternoon, I am still not through with Anne of Green Gables.

Anne of Green Gables

I did, however, read and review Much Ado about Anne by Heather Frederick Vogel. I also wrote some reflections on a quote from Anne of Green Gables.

But I did not complete the first piece of the project I had hoped to unveil at the end of this challenge.

I’ll share it anyway.

A bit of background…

When I was young, the American girl dolls were all the rage (I guess they still are in some circles). In those days, the company that made them was called “Pleasant Company” and the only dolls you could get were the historical ones that had short chapter books that went along with them.

I got “Addy”, a young girl who escaped slavery via the Underground Railroad (chronicled, of course, in Meet Addy), when she first came out.

And I spent hours poring over the Pleasant Company catalog, with its outfits and accessories that matched the books.

I was simultaneously in love with Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess. I adored how Sara Crew and her indulgent Papa went to pick out the doll “Emily” and outfit her in the very fanciest of clothing.

I dreamed of a wardrobe for my doll, a complete set–and one that matched a book.

But the Pleasant company outfits were much to expensive for my (or my parents’) budget, and I had little patience to do any quality sewing in those days.

So I made do with the clothes Addy came with–and the few garments Mom made for her.

But I still dreamed of a complete wardrobe, based on a book.

I grew up a bit and decided that I wanted it to be based on a REAL book–not books that were written in order to sell doll clothes.

The Anne series.

It was perfect. Anne was the right sort of age, Montgomery goes into detail about her clothing and accessories, and I just happened to love the series.

I would make a complete wardrobe for Addy using the Anne series as a starting point.

And so I began to make lists of every object mentioned in the Anne series. The vivid chromo of Jesus blessing the children, the chocolate brown voile with its puffed sleeves and pintucked waist, the navy blue broadcloth jacket made by Marilla, the yellow pansy cut from a catalog that Ella May McPherson gave Anne to use to decorate her desk. I have a list of every object–and some only alluded to (the red and white triangles Anne had to work at before she could go out to visit with Dianna–what might that quilt have looked like?)

I started collecting bits and pieces of fabric that might be suitable for the project.

And, this month, I started sewing.

My first project has been a dress to approximate the dresses Marilla made for Anne to replace the dreadfully skimpy wincey:

“Well, how do you like them?” said Marilla.

Anne was standing in the gable room, looking solemnly at three new dresses spread out on the bed. One was of snuffy colored gingham which Marilla had been tempted to buy from a peddler the preceding summer because it looked so serviceable; one was of black-and-white checked sateen which she had picked up at a bargain counter in the winter; and one was a stiff print of an ugly blue shade which she had purchased that week at the Carmody store.

She had made them up herself, and they were all made alike–plain skirts fulled tightly to plain waists, with sleeves as plain as waist and skirt and tight as sleeves could be.

“I’ll imagine that I like them,” said Anne soberly.

Perhaps it’s a bit of a depressing place to start, but that is where I have started.

And this is what I have so far.

Anne's plain dress

Nothing exciting, but it’s a start to this project I’ve been dreaming of for nigh on 15 years.

L. M. Montgomery Reading ChallengeVisit Carrie’s L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge to see what others were saying/doing about L.M. Montgomery this month.

WiW: Great Expectations

The Week in Words

You have such expectations,” my Dad tells me again–the third or fourth time. “and it sets you up for great disappointments. You see, I never really expected much from myself or from life. And so when I turned out to have a wonderful life, I was pleasantly surprised. You have great expectations, so when things don’t turn out the way you expected, you’re disappointed–even if your life is still objectively quite good.”

It’s an observation, not a statement that his way is better or worse than mine.

But I think of it when I read these words in Anne of Green Gables:

You set your heart too much on things, Anne,” said Marilla with a sigh. “I’m afraid there’ll be a great many disappointments in store for you through life.

“Oh, Marilla, looking forward to things is half the pleasure of them,” exclaimed Anne. “you mayn’t get the things themselves; but nothing can prevent you from having the fun of looking forward to them. Mrs. Lynde says, ‘Blessed are they who expect nothing for they shall not be disappointed.‘ But I think it would be worse to expect nothing than to be disappointed.

I’m glad my Dad doesn’t make light of my aspirations, like Mrs. Lynde and Marilla seem to of Anne’s. But his observations–and those of Marilla, Anne, and Mrs. Lynde–do make me think.

I do expect a lot from life. I expect a lot from myself.

I want to do, I want to be, I want to see, I want to hear, I want to write. I want to live an extraordinary life. I want to do extraordinary things. I want to be an extraordinary person.

I have great expectations.

But, as my dad and Marilla and Mrs. Lynde observe, it does set me up for more disappointments than if I hadn’t such expectations.

I end up with less time and energy than I thought I’d have even after moving permanently to Columbus–and I’m disappointed not to be able to accomplish the grandiose expectations that I’d had for how my first few months in Columbus might look.

I find myself in a corner of dietetics I didn’t expect to find myself in, in a corner of the state I didn’t expect to find myself in, with…

I find that life is very different than what I expected.

On the other hand, like Anne, I love the expectation itself–the dreaming, the planning, the process of trying to make the dreams become reality. I still haven’t taken that bike ride across Nebraska, but I’ve loved what training I’ve done (I’ve trained gung ho three springs in a row, only to find busyness and/or medical issues stymie the actual completion), I’ve loved the planning, I’ve loved the bike rides taken with friends in the meantime.

And, as my Dad points out, my high expectations, while not always achievable, have enabled me to achieve a great deal more than someone who just floats through life with no goals or expectations.

My dad makes it clear that my driven personality is not a fault but a blessing. But he is also quick to caution that it can become a fault. When I become so focused on results that I ignore people. When I become so focused on unmet expectations that I fail to be thankful for unexpected blessings. When I set my heart on things instead of Christ.

And ultimately, that is what it comes down to.

“You set your heart too much on things,” Marilla says.

She’s right. I do.

Not that there’s anything wrong with doing things, having things. Neither the doing of things nor the desire to do things is wrong. It’s the setting of my heart on things that is wrong.

“Do not trust in extortion
or take pride in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
do not set your heart on them.”
~Psalm 62:10, NIV (c)1984

I was made to do great things.

It is right that I desire to do great things.

But my heart was made to be set on Christ.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
~Colossians 3:1-4, NIV (c)1984

Be sure to follow through with Barbara H’s meme “The Week in Words”, where bloggers collect quotes they’ve read throughout the week.

L. M. Montgomery Reading ChallengeI’m reading Anne of Green Gables as a part of Carrie’s L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge. Check out the link to see what others are saying about (or reading of) L.M. Montgomery this month

Book Review: “Much Ado About Anne” by Heather Vogel Frederick

In my experience, lit about lit or books based on books tend to follow a fairly typical pattern.

You know, high school students perform “Romeo and Juliet” only to find that their own lives parallel the play in ways they never imagined (and generally don’t get until the end of the story.)

So I was expecting some orphans or a precocious redhead or at very least someone in need of a bosom friend when I picked up Much Ado About Anne.

When I got a couple chapters into the book and still hadn’t started to see parallels, I got a bit nervous.

It wasn’t what I expected at all.

And that’s a good thing.

Heather Vogel Frederick’s Much Ado About Anne doesn’t try to recreate Anne of Green Gables (as though another author could do it better than L.M. Montgomery!) Instead, Much Ado About Anne finds the mother-daughter book club experiencing their own story while reading through Anne’s story in book club.

Two great conflicts rise in the lives of the book club girls: first, their mothers invite the oh-so-stuck-up Becca Chadwick to join their club–and then Jess discovers that her family may be forced off their ancestral farm.

The girls (and therefore their readers) learn interesting factoids about L.M. Montgomery thanks to one girl’s librarian mother. And, just like good bibliophiles, they find ways of relating what they’re reading to their own lives.

And so, they realize that Becca is a Pye, and must be tolerated as a Pye. They relate to the utter mortification Anne felt when she dyed her hair green–although, of course, their mortification is over something entirely different. And they emulate their new heroine by naming the lands around them with fanciful names.

I enjoyed this book a great deal. It has just enough Anne to make it worth its title–but not so much Anne that it’s lacking any substance of its own.

I’m glad I took the opportunity to take a glimpse at Anne through the eyes of four fictional middle-school girls. As a long-standing Anne-fan, I found myself thrilled with these girls’ glimpses of Anne–and I’m willing to bet that this book would be a great way to introduce a young reader who’s reluctant to read “old” books into the great story that is Anne. Once she’s read this, I can almost guarantee she’ll want to read the “back-story”–the novels the mother-daughter book club read and discussed and applied to their own lives.

Rating: 4 stars
Category:Middle grade fiction (female)
Synopsis:The mother-daughter book club gets busy reading Anne of Green Gables, dealing with their very own Josie Pye, and racking their brains to save Half Moon Farm.
Recommendation: Great for lovers of Anne, or lovers of YA fiction/young chick lit, or anyone who wants to introduce a younger girl to the joys of Green Gables.

L. M. Montgomery Reading ChallengeI read this as a part of Carrie’s L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge. Check out the link for more people’s comments on L.M. Montgomery. Visit my books page for more book reviews and notes by me.

ANNE through another pair of eyes

L. M. Montgomery Reading ChallengeMan, I’d completely forgotten that TODAY was the day for beginning Carrie’s L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge.

But today it is, and I’m gonna participate.

Having already read and re-read the “Anne” series by L.M. Montgomery a bazillion times and having read each title by L.M. Montgomery that my library owns at least once, I have decided to do something a bit different for this year’s L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge.

This year, I’m going to re-read Anne of Green Gables in conjunction with Heather Vogel Frederick’s Much Ado About Anne, a middle grade (?) novel about a mother-daughter book club that reads through the Anne books (See Jennifer’s 5M4B Review).

I’m excited to take a look at Anne through another pair of eyes this year!

Check out some of the other Montgomery-readers at Carrie’s L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge page