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The story of Anne Shirley, the red-haired orphan, has been popular around the world for almost a century.
The opening chapters of “Anne of Green Gables” tell how a brother and sister, living together on a farm, have decided to adopt a boy.
Matthew Cuthbert is now 60 years old and needs help working the farm.
They have sent away to the orphanage, and the boy will be arriving by train.
When Matthew goes to the train station with his horse and buggy, there is no boy, only a girl– Ann Shirley.
Anne is no ordinary girl. She has a vivid imagination and loves to talk about things that interest her.
Matthew, who is shy and quiet, takes an immediate liking to her.
When they arrive home, however, his sister Marilla is very upset.
She doesn't see what good a girl would be to them.
Matthew says, “We might be some good to her.”
After a while, Marilla begins to feel sorry for the thin little orphan and decides to keep her.
But Marilla finds that teaching Anne how to behave properly is quite a challenge. Anne often does things without thinking first, and Marilla has to be vigilant to keep her out of trouble.
As time goes by, Anne becomes accepted in the community and doesn't get into as many difficulties.
One characteristic of the little orphan is a love of big words.
While she lived a life of hard work, Anne liked to imagine beautiful things that she didn't have.
This was her way of dealing with unhappiness when she worked as a servant for unkind people.
Living at Green Gables makes her happy, but she doesn't lose her love of special words or beautiful things.
Anne is also unhappy because she has red hair and freckles.
In Anne's day, beautiful women were thought to have light clear complexions and black hair.
Her colouring seemed unromantic.
However, red hair and freckles are very common on Prince Edward Island, where many of the people are of Scottish descent.
This story tells us a lot about how to be happy.
When Matthew and Marilla stop worry about needing a boy, and start taking care of Anne, they find that they enjoy having her around.
Their lives become much more interesting now that they have someone who needs them.
So happiness involves looking after others, and being needed by them.
There were many stories about orphans when “Anne of Green Gables” was written.
Before modern medicine, many parents died before their children were grown up.
A lot of mothers died in childbirth.
Since fathers didn't usually try to raise young children in those days, someone else had to take the responsibility.
This is what happened to Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of “Anne.”
Her mother died when she was a baby, and her father left her with her mother's parents.
Montgomery's grandparents provided a good home for her, but they were very strict and stern and didn't have a lot of sympathy with the little girl.
In her story, Montgomery is imagining how she would have liked her own life to have happened.
What if her grandparents had been more like Matthew and Marilla?
What if they had allowed her to do more of the things she wanted to do?
Wouldn't she have been happier then?
The story shows how young children are hurt by bad treatment from the adults looking after them.
Even if the adults don't mean to be unkind, sometimes they say or do things
that make children very unhappy.
“Anne” teaches parents and grandparents to encourage their children and help them to be happy and successful.
Anne Shirley is one little person who changes a whole community and makes it better.
We all have special gifts and talents, and if we are allowed to use those abilities, they will benefit everyone around us.