Ebony Thomas on 'Anne of Green Gables'

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Ebony Thomas is the author of “The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games.” For her the most important word in that title is "imagination." She believes that without imagination we can't change the world because we can't see it. We can't daydream a better world into existence. It's why she's always identified with another literary daydreamer — Anne of Green Gables.

Hi, my name is Ebony Elizabeth Thomas. I am the author of "The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to The Hunger Games."

My favorite book has changed over time. My favorites were Beverly Cleary's stories about Ramona and Judy Blume's stories about Peter and his little brother Fudge, because Fudge reminded me of my little sister, Danielle. By the time I was nine, my parents gifted me with "The Little House on the Prairie" series, which I have critiqued 30 years later.

I have to say that I encountered my favorite girl protagonist of all, Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables. I remember encountering Anne when I was 12 years old, not through the library or a bookstore, but through PBS and the CBC. I grew up in Detroit, we were right next door to Canada and so we had channel nine, CBC. They were airing a little series titled "Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel" over in Canada, and "Anne of Avonlea" here in the States.

And I will never forget seeing Anne and her neighbor, rival, and eventual love interest, Gilbert Blythe, on a bridge. It was just at the right time of my life. I was 12 years old, quite romantic, head full of dreams. I remember Gilbert telling Anne, "I won't leave you." There was something about that encounter that just really struck me. When I went to the library next, I went to search for the books and come to find out there were eight stories in total. I picked up everything I could get my hands on. Lucy Maud Montgomery told Anne's story from the time she was 11 years old until she was in her 50s.

That is how I fell into the world of Avonlea, And I was hoping to go to Prince Edward Island this year for the conference, but the pandemic stopped that. That was my favorite book growing up and my favorite story girl.