A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle
Margaret, Meg, Murray is a little bit of a shambles, or so she thinks. She’s always getting into trouble at school, doesn’t really have any friends, and thinks she’s about as plain as a person can be. Until the night when a stranger crashes into her home and sparks the adventure of a lifetime. Mrs. Whatsit, along with her companions Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which, take Meg, her younger brother Charles Wallace, and friend Calvin on a journey across time and space to save Meg and Charles’ father from an unspeakable evil. Along the way Meg will learn to appreciate herself for who she is and to start to view her faults as the strengths they really are.
As a children’s librarian, I don’t think it would surprise anyone if I said that this is one of my all time favorite books. Loving this book is practically a pre-requisite for the job! I will say that I hated it at first. The plot was just too much for my seven year old mind to wrap around.
My mother gave me this book when I was in elementary school and staying home sick. It was one of her favorites when she was a child, so she was excited to share it with me. However, the whole idea of “tesseract” was too much for me. I remember starting the book over and over and always stopping when I got to the explanation of tessering. The fact that it actually had a diagram to help get the point across completely baffled me. As a result, the opening scene in the kitchen between Meg, Charles Wallace, Mrs. Murry, and Mrs. Whatsit is one of the most vivid and permanently ingrained in my imagination of any book ever. I have read and re-read that scene more times than any other ever, and, eventually, I did make it past the beginning and into the meat of the story.
Madeleine L’Engle is the type of author who doesn’t write down to children at all. The fact that I, a lifelong obsessive reader, had to struggle to find my footing in her novel is very telling. This is the type of story that children have to come to on their own. Some will be ready for it much younger than others, but I do think that most kids will love it, whenever they feel ready for it. For the record, I officially actually read this book in 4th grade after starting and stopping it periodically from 2nd grade on.
This is the type of story that I get excited to recommend to kids. I’ve booktalked it, frequently pass it along on the reference desk, and fully plan on giving it to my own children someday. Although, lately, it’s been met with a whole new sort of enthusiasm. After the popularity of Rebecca Stead’s Newbery winning book When You Reach Me, A Wrinkle in Time is MUCH easier to booktalk. Now I can just say, “This is Miranda’s favorite book” and the kids practically snatch it from my hands!
I thought I’d end this post with a quick thought on the many, many book covers this story has worn. Frankly, my favorite is the current paperback cover. It’s enigmatic and timeless. There’s nothing off putting in this cover. Some of the older ones look older and make some kids a little wary. For instance, it’d be pretty hard to sell the cover of my copy to kids! Especially, boys, but I do love it, if only for the sentimentality of it. What you can’t see in this image is that the sides of the cover are HOT pink. Also, the illustration of Mrs. Whatsit is pretty girly. At least the new covers are unisex.
In the end, no matter the age of the reader or the style of the cover, this is one of the best books for children ever and I doubt anyone would disagree with that. I fully plan on reading the rest of the series, which, for some reason, I never read as a child. I’m excited to go on more adventures with the Murrays and hope that I like them as much!