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A is for Avonlea: Anne of Green Gables board books

When books “Inspired by Anne of Green Gables” enter the office, I take notice (as I’m often inspired by AoGG myself). So when two Anne-based board books, Anne’s Colors and Anne’s Numbers by Kelly Hill (Tundra, May 2018) showed up, I had to pore over them.

Anne’s Colors has more for Anne fans to get excited about. Most of the color connections come directly from moments in the story, shown pretty much chronologically — Anne with orange braids waits by the train tracks, then rides home with Matthew amid white blossoms, then admires Diana’s black hair…

Anne’s Numbers relies a bit more on simply counting things in nature in a general appreciation of Anne’s love for the outdoors (4 trees; 5 forest animals), but there are still connections to the original text. For instance, at least a few of the friends on the “10 friends” spread are easily identifiable as specific Avonlea residents.

In both books, the illustrations are the highlight. “Created with fabric, thread, embroidery floss and a sprinkling of freckles,” they capture the homespun feel of the Anne books, and have plenty of details to pick out. (A vignette of carrots recalls a key name-calling moment.) With their bright colors and eye-catching textures, they’re also very toddler friendly.

Which brings me to the question that always arises when a kids’ book is based on source material for an older audience — who is this for? Anne of Green Gables is indeed a children’s book, but not a preschool book, and these board books will probably sell mostly based on adult nostalgia. But even if babies and toddlers won’t get the references, Anne’s Colors and Anne’s Numbers are serviceable as concept books, and the illustrations are appealing enough that a board book audience is likely to enjoy learning numbers and colors from them.

And later, when they’re old enough to catch up with Anne’s exploits, that fateful bottle of “red cordial” will sound familiar.

Shoshana Flax About Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, assistant editor for The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons College.

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