Fortunately for me, I have a friend who was outraged enough to ask what I thought about Anne posing as if she’s on the cover of Objects R Us. At first, I said, “Meh, I wasn’t surprised.” And then I thought: What if this was Jo March? And all my girl turned mama indignation just bubbled up. Don’t be messin with Jo March. Just. Don’t. Even. OK then. Don’t be messin with Anne either. Step off, and step off now. Because do you know what you are telling our little girls, oh sexist artist of the updated classics? You are telling them to ring their bells for you, not for themselves. And they hear that enough. They hear it so much, in fact, that it’s a wonder they can still hear the ringing of the bells at all. The reason the fictional girl on the verge of fictional womanhood resonates for us all is because she exists in the time before, as we cannot. She exists before we really understood what sex or gender are, and how they can free you and limit you at once. She exists in a time when anything is—really and truly—possible, because your imagination is your only limit, and your body has not yet been measured and tested. She exists when you belong, fully and only, to yourself.
“Had I participated [in the poll], this would have been my #1. Forced to read this as an 8th grader, this book made me a reader and ultimately a librarian.” - Sharon Hrycewicz, in a comment on SLJ’s Facebook page