News and Views (as the DHM Says)

October 31, 2006 @ 7:24 am | Filed under: Books

Just a reminder that the new edition of the Carnival of Children’s Literature is scheduled to appear today over at Scholar Blog, so keep your eyes peeled! ("Eyes peeled" always makes me think of the bowls of peeled grapes people used to put out at Halloween parties, and you were supposed to feel them with a blindfold on, and your host would tell you they were eyeballs. Ew.)

Speaking of ew, there’s a disheartening piece of news over at Farm School today. Becky links to an article in the Edmonton Journal about a publisher’s plans to create a "prequel" to Anne of Green Gables. The book will tell the story of Anne’s early years:

The new book, Before Green Gables, will focus on the young girl’s
hard-luck life with a string of foster families and at a Nova Scotia
orphanage in the years before her momentous appearance as an
11-year-old adoptee at Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert’s farm in
turn-of-the-century Avonlea.

No, no, no. Don’t do it! So wrong. Such a bad idea.

Now hold on a minute, some of you are saying. What are you doing up on there on that high horse, Melissa Wiley? Don’t you write prequels to another beloved children’s series?

Here’s why a "new" Anne book is different (and wrong, wrong, wrong). Anne is fictional, an author’s creation. L.M. Montgomery made her up. She gave us Anne’s backstory in her own books. In a few short paragraphs, Montgomery paints a vivid picture of the misery of Anne’s early years, and it’s a finished canvas, albeit a small one. No one needs to come along and try to repaint it as a mural.

Martha Morse and Charlotte Tucker were real people. The Ingalls/Wilder family archives contain letters about them, birth and death records, marriage records, the names of children they gave birth to (including babies who died at birth). Where the records leave gaps, I have had to fictionalize, and that’s why the books I have written are historical fiction instead of biography. But the women were real. Laura Ingalls Wilder did not create them out of her own imagination. By all means, someone write a book about Lucy Maud Montgomery’s young life! Or her grandmother’s, for that matter. But leave her made-up characters alone.

I don’t think of my books as "prequels," though of course that is what
my publisher calls them. A few years ago, my editor asked me to consider writing a book about Mary Ingalls. I declined. I didn’t think the "lost years" book (Old Town in the Green Groves) should be written either, at least not in a format that placed it within the series. If someone had wanted to write a biography of Laura that focused on the Iowa years, that would have been different.


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Comments

4 Responses | | Comments Feed

  1. I was 12 the first time I’d read AoGG and all I remember was bawling right through the first 100 pages and laughing through the rest.

    I recently reread this book. There’s a level of child abuse, and even bigotry, hinted at during Anne’s early life that makes child caging seem tame. Do they really intend to make this prequel a children’s book rather than something of the Angela Carter persuasion?

  2. Oh I couldn’t agree more. As a huge fan of these books I cannot believe someone would even attempt to do this. Shame on them for riding on the back of LM Montgomery’s huge success. A few years ago CBC attempted a follow-up to the AoGG movies and sequel and it was a complete bust.

  3. What do you think of the “My First Little House” books?

  4. I had the same thoughts when I read of the AoGG book — however I hadn’t thought that way in regards to OTGG something to think about.

    As for the commentor’s question on the My First Little House Books — these ARE Laura’s stories — simply small episodes taken from her books and put into picture book format — however you knew that……..