Write-to-Anne contest promotes novel’s centenary

Several marketers are getting in on the viral effort that celebrates the 100th anniversary of Anne of Green Gables.

Penguin Group Canada is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the publication of Anne of Green Gables by launching a national letter-writing contest on Feb. 9.

With support from Canwest’s Raise-A-Reader program, Canadian residents of all ages will be invited to write to Lucy Maud Montgomery’s plucky heroine, Anne Shirley, telling her what she means to them in 500 words or less. Submissions may be posted on a new website or snail-mailed.

Open until April 30, the viral contest is also being sponsored by Canada Post, Tourism PEI and the Royal Ontario Museum. The national jury will be chaired by former Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson and comprise various authors and stakeholders including Montgomery’s granddaughter, Kate Macdonald Butler.

The winner in each of four age categories will receive a $2,500 travel voucher from The Travel Store for travel to and from Prince Edward Island (Anne’s fictional home), courtesy of Tourism PEI, invitations to visit Charlottetown and Avonlea village and complimentary tickets to Anne of Green Gables The Musical at the Confederation Centre. As well, there’s a package of gifts that will also go to runners-up: a library of Penguin’s 100th Anniversary editions (see below), a commemorative stamp from Canada Post and a commemorative coin from the Royal Canadian Mint.

Penguin is going all out for the centenary of Anne of Green Gables – which has sold 50 million copies worldwide in over 20 languages since 1908 – by publishing three official anniversary books: Before Green Gables, a prequel by Budge Wilson; Imagining Anne: The Island Scrapbooks of L.M. Montgomery, a collection of Montgomery’s extensive scrapbooks; and a special edition of the original novel with a new introduction from two of Montgomery’s grandchildren.

The ROM is hosting an official launch event on Feb. 12, which will be hosted by Clarkson and attended by some of Montgomery’s heirs. Contest entry forms will be available at participating retailers including Indigo, Shoppers Drug Mart, Overwaitea, Amazon.ca, CanadaPost.com and various bookstores across Canada. Penguin is supplying more than 300 book displays and offering a $500 cash prize to the bookseller with the best-dressed Anne of Green Gables window display.

The publisher is also supplying a retail event kit that includes Edwardian-era recital invitations and programs, posters, recipes for raspberry cordial and pound cake and how-to instruction sheets for period crafts, waltzing and scrapbooking. As well, Penguin is providing 200 event kits to Girl Guides of Canada, which is issuing a national ’100 Years of Anne’ challenge to members to earn Anne crests.

With creative done in-house at Penguin and media placement handled in-house at Canwest, ads for the contest will appear in various Canwest publications.