A whole new generation is about to be introduced to Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.
EW has learned exclusively that the classic novel will be adapted into vibrant graphic novel form for young readers, in celebration of its 150th anniversary, and it will be updated with a diverse and multicultural cast of characters. The graphic novel is called Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, named after the story’s primary characters, and it will debut via an online serial release on Wednesday, March 7. (Episodes will then be released weekly.)
The original Little Women, published in 1868, traced the lives of the four March sisters from childhood to adulthood; as it began, their father was away during the American Civil War, and they were living with their mother in genteel poverty. (Winona Ryder starred in the popular film adaptation.) The bones of the story remain the same here, only with a more diverse cast: In this modernized retelling, the March family is blended, multiracial and LGBTQ inclusive, with updates making it resonant to an even wider swath of today’s young readers.
“I loved Little Women growing up,” author Rey Terciero said in a statement. “Their struggles felt universal to me, especially feeling like I always had less than others. So it’s an absolute honor to be writing a re-telling of it. But [artist] Bre [Indigo] and I wanted to see ourselves in the characters too, which is why we made the family diverse and one of the characters LGBTQ. Jo is my favorite, so I wanted to play with the subtext that may not have been available 150 years ago, but that we can speak openly about these days. Being LGBT myself, I’m just happy to be creating a book that I wish I could have read as a young reader. But it’s also very PG, and very sweet. I wanted to be sensitive with the heavy topics while staying true to Alcott’s vision of empowering young women.”
Added artist Indigo, ““Meg, Joe, Beth, and Amy have so much in common with today’s youth and hopefully when young readers pick up the book they can find themselves in the girls and apply their growth to their own lives. My personal goal as an artist is to help others to embrace empathy, to relate to one another and grow as individuals. And I think our book does just that.”
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers is releasing Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy alongside Tapas Media. The first online episode will be available Wednesday, and completed paperback and e-book editions will be released in November.
LBYR and Tapas have exclusively shared with EW some art from the new project, including character concept sketches and an excerpt panel. Check it out below.