Old Favorite: A Wrinkle in Time

Do you know which classic children’s book is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary this year?  It’s an old favorite that has remained timeless:   A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.

* * *

It was a dark and stormy night…and  Meg Murry is up in her bedroom, worrying. The oldest child and only daughter of two scientists, Meg feels like a failure.  Even though her parents are brilliant, Meg has just been dropped to the lowest level in her class. She’s on the verge of being held back, and the other girls in her class think she’s loud and immature. Even Sandy and Dennys, her ten year old brothers think that she should be less of a delinquent.  No one understands that most of the time when Meg gets into fights, she’s defending her family…especially her father and her baby brother, Charles Wallace.

Charles Wallace is her favorite person in the world…her little brother, who didn’t talk until he was four, but who at five seems to be both brilliant and maybe a little psychic. He knows things that he shouldn’t know, and talks like he’s already graduated from college.  But he’s still a little boy, and Meg protects him.  She has to, because the other problem in her life is that her father is missing, and people are talking. No one, not even her mother, knows where he is.

But as Meg and Charles Wallace and their mother are enjoying cocoa in the middle of the storm, they’re interrupted by a peculiar character–Mrs Whatsit, who says she’s lost. After an intriguing conversation, the Murrys help her out and send her on her way.

After school the next day, Charles Wallace meets Meg.  On the way home, they run into Calvin O’Keefe, a boy Meg has seen around school, but who she doesn’t really know. Calvin is smart,  and after a bit of an interrogation from Charles Wallace, the two boys become fast friends, despite an almost ten-year difference in their ages.  Calvin joins the Murrys for dinner, and suddenly Meg finds herself liking the older boy too.  Charles Wallace brings Calvin and Meg to meet his friend Mrs Who, another peculiar woman who is a friend of Mrs Whatsit. That night, after dinner, Calvin and Meg go for a walk.

Just as Meg finishes telling Calvin about her father and how concerned she is about him, Charles Wallace runs up to them and tells them to get ready.  Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who and a new person…Mrs Which appear, and whisk all three children away to…somewhere through space and time.

Suddenly, Meg, Charles Wallace and Calvin are off on the journey of a lifetime. If they work together, there’s a chance they can find and rescue Meg’s father. But there’s also a chance they could get lost along the way.  Can they overcome the dangers of the universe? Will they be able to stay strong enough to remain together? Can they find their father?

You’ll have to read to find out.

* * *

I remember my first time reading A Wrinkle in Time.  It was the first week of fifth grade, and my teacher, Mrs. Pyle, told us it would be one of the books we’d be reading in the spring. It sounded so interesting that I went to the library and took it out. I read it once, and then read it again.  Then it was in the Weekly Reader Book order, so bought it so I could re-read the best bits as often as I wanted to.

Unlike some of our other Old Favorites, A Wrinkle in Time has never been forgotten. It’s also never been out of print.  It won the  Newbery Award as the most distinguished title in  literature for young readers in 1962.

Madeleine L’Engle wrote several sequels to A Wrinkle in Time, including A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters and An Acceptable Time.  Several members of the Murry/O’Keefe families have appeared in other of L’Engle’s novels.

If you like science fiction or stories about unusual families, you should enjoy A Wrinkle in Time. It’s a book everyone should read at least once in their lives.  I’d recommend it to a good fifth grade reader, but to understand all the science and emotions in the story, it’s probably best enjoyed in sixth or seventh grade.  It makes a wonderful selection for a parent/child book group.

There’s a 50th anniversary edition of A Wrinkle in Time coming out this spring, with lots of interesting extras included. There’s a graphic novel currently being adapted, that should also come out in the fall of 2012. And although the book was made into a mini series in 2003, it has been optioned to be a major motion picture, maybe in 2013.  If a movie version does get made, I’ll definitely be in line the first week to see it!

So if you’re a fan of A Wrinkle in Time, there’s a lot coming out for the 50th anniversary!  And if you’re not a fan…yet…read the book, and see what you think. Then let me know!


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