Children's Book Series at Our Osborne Collection: Anne of Green Gables, Franklin, Little Tim and More

November 8, 2021 | Myrna

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Children's book series create a special bond with their readers, a bond that is strengthened over many volumes. Series allow readers to grow up alongside their favourite characters, from Anne of Green Gables to Franklin the Turtle. 

Discover the charm of children's book series, new and old, at Wait! There's More: A Children's Book Series Exhibit. The exhibit runs from October 18, 2021 to January 15, 2022 at the Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books (located on the 4th floor of Lillian H. Smith Branch). This companion post gives a sneak peek — or a quick recap if you missed it — of some of the books and artwork displayed in the exhibit. 

Covers of Anne of Green Gables first edition by L. M. Montgomery Franklin in the Dark written by Paulette Bourgeois and illustrated by Brenda Clark and The Barren Grounds by David Robertson
Wait! There's More features classic children's book new and old.

Many Faces of Anne

Flame-haired orphan Anne Shirley is the creation of Canadian author L. M. Montgomery. In the Anne of Green Gables series, Anne brings her wild imagination with her when siblings Marilla and Matthew adopt her. Inspiration for the Anne character came partly from a newspaper story about a British couple mistakenly sent a girl instead of a boy to adopt. Continuously in print since its first publication, Anne's story has been translated into more than 20 languages. 

The popular image of Anne is of a young girl with long braids and a straw hat, but her look has changed many times throughout the past 100 plus years.

Cover of Anne of Green Gables edition written by L. M. Montgomery and illustrated by Laura Fernandez and Rick Jacobson
This illustrated edition of Anne of Green Gables (2000) portrays Anne with her iconic braids and hat. 

The first edition of Anne of Green Gables (1908) (see digitized book or records for our physical copies) portrayed Anne as a classic Edwardian beauty. The cover art by George Gibbs shows an adult woman with her red hair in an updo. Gibbs' illustration was not created specifically for Montgomery's book. The illustration actually first appeared three years earlier on the cover of The Delineator magazine. 

Cover of Anne of Green Gables first edition by L. M. Montgomery
First edition Anne of Green Gables (1908) first edition with a cover illustration by George Gibbs.

Later editions of the Anne series continued to update Anne's appearance to fit current trends. A 1930s edition of Anne of the Island (1938) has Anne looking like a glamorous film star complete with a fashionable waved bob. In Anne of the Island, we see Anne say goodbye to her beloved Green Gables to attend Redmond College.

Cover of Anne of the Island  by L.M. Montgomery
A glamourous Anne with bobbed hair from Anne of the Island (1938).


Edward Ardizzone's Maritime Adventures

Edward Ardizzone’s Little Tim series follows the maritime adventures of young Tim and his many friends. Tim aspires to be a sailor, but his adventures on the water are never smooth sailing. Edward Ardizzone’s own experiences sailing and travelling by sea inspired the Little Tim series. Ardizzone said the books drew on “half-forgotten memories of past experiences,” including a childhood boat trip from China to England.

Five original illustrations from Ardizzone's Tim and Ginger (1965) are displayed in the exhibit. Ardizzone believed that illustrations were secondary to a good story, and should help the story along but not distract the reader. When illustrating his characters, Ardizzone focused on movement and body language rather than facial expressions. His favourite way to depict protagonists in the story was from behind so that readers could imagine their faces for themselves. 

Book covers of Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain by Edward Ardizzone and Tim and Ginger by Edward Ardizzone
Edward Ardizzone hand-painted and lettered covers for Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain (1936) and Tim and Ginger (1965)


Franklin and Friends

An episode of M*A*S*H (the 1970s TV series set during the Korean War) inspired writer Paulette Bourgeois' Franklin series. She heard M*A*S*H character Hawkeye declare, “he was so claustrophobic that if he were a turtle, he’d be afraid of his own shell,” and wrote a story about a little turtle afraid of his own shell. That story became Franklin in the Dark (1986), the first book in the Franklin series. Together with illustrator Brenda Clark and later writer Sharon Jennings, Bourgeois’ idea spawned 54 books and two TV series. 

Covers of Franklin in the Dark and Franklin is Bossy written by Paulette Bourgeois and illustrated by Brenda Clark
Franklin in the Dark (1986) and Franklin is Bossy (1993) are two early volumes in the Franklin series.

Six original illustrations by Franklin illustrator Brenda Clark are displayed in the exhibit. Illustrator Brenda Clark says, “[m]y biggest challenge was designing Franklin. Because he is a turtle who acts like a boy, I wanted him to be somewhat realistic, but capable of showing human emotions.” Franklin can do things real-life turtles cannot, like crawl out of his shell and walk on two legs. These character design choices make Franklin a blend of real and imaginary. 

Two original Brenda Clark illustrations from Franklin is Lost
Two original Brenda Clark illustrations from Franklin is Lost (1992).


Recent Reads

Books series featured in the Wait! There's More exhibit span more than 140 years of children's publishing. In addition to established classics, the exhibit also features recent favourites with appeal for readers young and old. 

Cover of Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Seraphina (2012) by Rachel Hartman

The human and dragon kingdoms in Goredd have been at peace for 40 years. But that peace is threatened when a human is murdered and it is believed a dragon is to blame. Seraphina, a half-dragon half-human, is called upon by the prince to solve the crime. She must hide her half-dragon heritage or face unjust persecution. The series continues with Shadow Scale (2015) and Tess of the Road (2018).

Cover of I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

I Want My Hat Back (2011) by Jon Klassen

A bear searching for his missing hat encounters a series of deadpan fellow animals. The series continues with picture books This Is Not My Hat (2012) and We Found a Hat (2016).

Cover of The Barren Grounds by David Robertson

The Barren Grounds (2020) by David Robertson 

In The Barren Grounds, Indigenous foster children Eli and Morgan have been removed from their families and communities. Both are placed with a white couple, Katie and James. In the attic of their foster home, they stumble upon a portal to another world: Askí. There they meet a local hunter, Ochek, who is desperately trying to save the Misewa community while they are trapped in perpetual winter. The series continues with The Great Bear (2021)

Cover of Neil Flambé and the Marco Polo Murders by Kevin Sylvester

Neil Flambé and the Marco Polo Murders (2010) by Kevin Sylvester

Fourteen-year-old Neil is a professional chef and amateur detective with a huge ego and a sensitive sense of smell. In this first book, police call upon Neil – known to them as “The Nose” – to sniff around a murder scene for clues. But when rival chefs keep dying and Neil hasn’t caught the culprit, he soon becomes a suspect. The series continues in five volumes including Neil Flambé and the Tokyo Treasure (2012) and Neil Flambé and the Duel in the Desert (2016).


Post adapted from Wait! There's More: A Children's Book Series Exhibit (2021) curated by Roberta Duarte, Ames Geddes and Myrna Scully-Ashton. Wait! There's More features content from And Then What Happened?: Series Books and Popular Fiction in Children’s Literature (2013) curated by Elizabeth Derbecker.