TORONTO, Ontario -- A new edition of "Anne of Green Gables" depicts the youthful red-headed heroine as a curvaceous blond teen, sparking a fierce backlash from scholars and casual readers alike.

Critics are deriding the cover saying it's a far cry from the feisty, 19th-century 11-year-old brought to life in the pages of L-M Montgomery's classic series of novels.

The controversial image appears on the cover of a Three in One edition produced by CreateSpace, a subsidiary of the Amazon group of companies that allows people to self-publish their material.

Many readers are voicing shock and disgust that a beloved part of their childhood is receiving a more provocative treatment.

Several argue the updated image sends a negative message to future readers.

University of Toronto literature professor Nick Mount suspects the controversial photo was used in part to contravene strict copyright protections.

CreateSpace has not responded to requests for comment.