It all started one Friday after school when I was still teaching. I happened to open a book-order box and discovered a set of children’s classics I’d ordered with bonus points. Included in the set was a paperback copy of L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. For some reason I’d never read Anne, so I took her home and set her on my bedside table. Feeling bored, with nothing to do, I began reading that same night and before I’d finished Chapter Two, I’d fallen in love with delightful, heart-capturing Anne. (Yes, my heart, like so many other hearts over the years, proved immediately stolen by Anne with an ‘e’.) I was enjoying her so much that I knew, just knew, I couldn’t read her story alone.
Nope, I needed to read this book with someone I loved
My twelve-year-old son, perhaps?
Late the next night – once his Saturday-night sitcoms were over and the TV turned off – I corralled my son and started reading Anne of Green Gables out loud. Sadly, though, to my disappointment, Skye (yes, I named my boy Skye) failed to take to L. M. Montgomery’s beloved main character the way I had.
Instead… he whined, fussed and complained. Complained. Complained. Complained.
“I hate this book!” I heard echoed over and over again. “That girl’s stupid! And talks too much! Talks, talks, talks! Let’s find a better book.” (I’d been in the habit or reading chapters books out loud to Skye for some time; at age twelve he didn’t enjoy reading to himself much and I didn’t want him to miss out on the adventure and beauty of the written word.)
“Skye, please be quiet and listen,” I calmly, and then not so calmly, reiterated. “We are not reading another book. We’re reading this book.” Unfortunately, Skye continued to carry on (and on and on) but I was the mom, so we read two chapters each night until we got to Chapter Fourteen, ‘Anne’s Confession.’
If you’re fortunate enough to be familiar with Anne of Green Gables, you may recall that Anne doesn’t steal Marilla’s amethyst brooch as she is accused of doing in Chapter Fourteen. No, she merely confesses to the crime believing that if she does, she’ll be allowed to attend the church picnic and, as a special bonus, taste ice cream for the very first time. Marilla, Anne’s newly-acquired elderly guardian, promises Anne that if she confesses, or says what Marilla believes to be the truth, she’ll let her go to the picnic. Sadly, though, things don’t work out the way Anne anticipates. Upon hearing and believing Anne’s contrived, wordy confession, Marilla quite hastily reneges on her promise and sends Anne straight to her room.
No picnic. No ice cream. No nothing.
But Marilla, having long since given up searching for the brooch, setting out to mend her black lace shawl, finds the amethyst brooch stuck by its clasp to her shawl. This highly-unexpected development moves her to apologize profusely to Anne, and to allow Anne to attend the picnic which, by the way, is scheduled to begin that very afternoon.
Okay, so I’m reading Chapter Fourteen out loud, about Anne’s confession and the church picnic and the ice cream and amethyst brooch, when my Skye – who’d been lying on his bed as quiet as a hibernating turtle – sits straight up and declares, “I LOVE this book!”
He LOVES this book?
As you can imagine, Skye’s goosebump-producing, heart-warming reaction to Chapter Fourteen called for – in this mother’s humble opinion – nothing less than a hearty Hallelujah, and a highly-appreciative hug. (But only to the extent that a twelve-, going on thirteen, year-old young man would allow.)
And, yes, Anne Shirley gets to taste ice cream for the very first time!
About the author: Nancy Lee VanDusen is a retired teacher living in southern California. She has been an enthusiastic writer of both nonfiction and fiction for nearly twenty years. She writes fiction short stories, has a generous collection of creative nonfiction essays, and has written a middle-grade trilogy of magical realism. Her creative nonfiction has appeared on the blogs Writing in a Woman’s Voice, Ruminate Magazine’s blog, The Waking, as well as other online publications.