We aren’t consulted on when we make our entrance into the world. Anne Shirley reminds us of this fact in Anne of Avonlea, saying of her wintry March birthday:
That wasn’t my fault… If my parents had consulted me it would never have happened then. I should have chosen to be born in spring, of course. It must be delightful to come into the world with the mayflowers and violets. You would always feel that you were their foster sister. But since I didn’t, the next best thing is to celebrate my birthday in the spring.
Parents have some control over their children’s birthdays, but not necessarily as much as Anne thinks. My twins turn 8-years-old today, but if I’d had my way, they’d have been born closer to when they were due, which was in March. Of course, in Anne’s time, 26-weekers wouldn’t have survived, one of the many reasons I’d never choose to live in any time period other than my own.
We’re extremely lucky that our children’s only remaining repercussion of their prematurity is a December birthday.
Right now, in our neck of the woods, the average high is 45 degrees, the sun sets around 4:30 in the afternoon, and just about everyone is too preoccupied with the holidays and New Year to celebrate anything else.
Nevertheless, my children love their birthday. They love it so much that they’ve decided to share their birthday with the main character of Anusha of Prospect Corner, a story we’re writing together that’s loosely based on L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. I tried to tell them that Anne’s birthday is in March, but the vote was two against one.
The Anne of Green Gables series is in the public domain, which I told my twins means that we’re allowed to borrow characters and plots from it because of how old it is (which I explained to them was “way older than their grandparents.”).
We’re 16,000 words into the project. Each week, I write a chapter or two, and my twins critique them. Then, I re-write the chapters and write the next chapter based on their suggestions and reactions (see the image below). With this input, we’ve developed new adventures for an updated Anne and her crew.
Our version of Anne is named Anusha, a redheaded little girl who is a quarter Sri Lankan (just like my redheaded daughters). She lives in a multicultural community that is based on where we live, a community that is quite different from Anne’s racially homogeneous Avonlea. (See Racial Diversity in Children’s Books: The Pros and Cons of Subtlety).
In case you’re interested, here’s the first paragraph of Chapter 1, entitled “Mrs. Lowry is Surprised” (this is a first draft–it will probably change quite a bit over the next few months!):
Ruth Lowry had always kept a sharp eye on 1818 Prospect Avenue, the house across the street from the stone colonial she’d lived in all her life. Like Mrs. Lowry’s home, number 1818 was also a stone colonial, but one so heavily covered in ivy that it looked nothing like its neighbors. It had been abandoned, left to Mother Nature to reclaim, until an orange truck pulled up and deposited a pile of large boxes on the overgrown front lawn.
Can you guess which Anne of Green Gables character is the inspiration for Ruth Lowry?