Today is my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours book tour for a middle grade graphic novel that absolutely captured my heart: Anne of West Philly by Ivy Noelle Weir (author) and Myisha Haynes (illustrator)! This book is a graphic retelling of Anne of Green Gables set in modern day West Philly and it is an absolute delight.
Before I start gushing about this book, though, I want to thank some folks. First, I want to thank the team at TBR & Beyond Tours for letting me be a part of this tour. Second, I want to thank the publisher, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, for sending me a free copy of the book in exchange for my participation and an honest review. It is very much appreciated! One last thing; mine is just one stop on this magical mystery tour, so make sure you check out the other fabulous bloggers and bookstagrammers that will be celebrating this beautiful book! You can find the full schedule here.
Alright, let’s get to the post!
Anne of Green Gables with a twist: in this follow-up to Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy and The Secret Garden on 81st Street, this full-color graphic novel moves Anne Shirley to modern-day West Philadelphia, where where she finds new friends, new rivals, and a new family.
When Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert decide to foster a teenage girl for the first time, their lives are changed forever. Their redheaded foster daughter, Anne Shirley, is in search of an exciting life and has decided that West Philly is where she’s going to find it. Armed with a big personality and unstoppable creativity, Anne takes her new home by storm as she joins the robotics club, makes new friends in Diana and Gilbert, experiences first love, and turns the ordinary into the extraordinary. But as Anne starts to get comfortable, she discovers one thing she wasn’t looking for: a family.
About the Author
Ivy Noelle Weir is a writer of comics and prose. She is the co-creator of the Dwayne McDuffie Award-winning graphic novel Archival Quality (Oni Press), the upcoming The Secret Garden on 81st Street (Little, Brown for Young Readers), and her writing has appeared in anthologies such as Princeless: Girls Rock (Action Lab Entertainment) and Dead Beats (A Wave Blue World). She lives in the greater Boston area with her husband and their two tiny, weird dogs.
Five Reasons to Read
#1. You have ever been a fan of Anne with an E (the E is important)
I’ll admit that I haven’t read Anne of Green Gables. That being said, I know a surprising amount about the story and its main heroine! I feel like this story really captured the heart and soul of Anne Shirley. It showcases her spunkiness, her wonder, and her tenacity. I think if you are at all a fan of the original, you’ll be pretty captivated with this retelling! I also think the author did a fantastic job putting a modern twist on the story.
#2. You like art that is so vibrant, it comes to life
The art in this graphic novel is truly stunning! It’s vibrant and expressive, to the point where the characters and setting really come to life in your imagination. I’m going to be honest, when I saw the cover for this in the sign up post, the art alone is what made me jump on-board! It’s such a lovely style that I think captures the spirit of Anne and her story perfectly. It certainly made me want to look up the illustrator’s other work!
#3. You want to read a book featuring a young, Black girl that doesn’t feature trauma
MORE OF THIS, PLEASE! It’s so refreshing to pick up a book with a Black protagonist and not have to deal with racism every few pages. I’m not saying Anne’s life is all kittens and rainbows, but the conflicts that arise in this story don’t center around her Blackness. They center around the fact that she’s a young girl in eighth grade. A young girl in foster care who is starting at a new school and while adjusting to life with her foster family. It focuses on what an amazing young woman Anne is and, though she goes through some tough times, it focuses on her joy. And I think that is really important for young, Black readers.
#4. You’re a fan of joy in book form
Speaking of joy, if I could use one word to describe this graphic novel, that would be it! I can’t remember the last time I smiled so much while reading a book! There were also tears, but they were happy ones. This is such a sweet and uplifting story that had me grinning, laughing, and wanting to hug my kids at several moments while I was reading. This is definitely something I’ll be passing along for them to read because I know they’ll love it, too. It will probably be a book I go back to when I need a little pick-me-up, as well!
#5. You want a happy book that centers around a non-traditional family
I know there are plenty of novels that have non-traditional family units in them, but I feel like a lot of them are shown in a less than favorable light. At least that is what I’ve noticed in the stories I read! So it was refreshing to read about Anne and the Cuthberts, the brother and sister duo that foster her. The Cuthberts could teach all parents a thing or two about being patient and understanding with children. I adored Matthew and Marilla so much and it was beautiful to see their relationship with Anne grow. I need to find more rep of healthy and stable foster families because it was lovely to read.
Final thoughts: This was an incredible retelling that made my soul happy! I can’t speak to how faithful it is to the source material, having never read it, but I know a little of Anne of Green Gables and I feel like the author really captured her spirit. The art is amazing, the story is filled with joy, and I think this is a middle grade graphic novel is one I will be revisiting multiple times. It certainly has me excited to find more books by both this author and the illustrator!