Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Children's Book Week - A Wrinkle in Time

It was a dark and stormy night... (really, that's the first line)

A Wrinkle in Time (1962) by Madeleine L'Engle, features a female protagonist in a science fiction novel in 1962, practically revolutionary. Meg Murry is fourteen and her scientist-father has gone mysteriously missing while working on a project for the government (of course). Meg, her friend Calvin O'Keefe and her little brother Charles Wallace go in search of Mr. Murry throughout the universe, aided by Mrs Whatsit (who used to be a star but exploded herself in an act of political protest), by use of a tesseract (think wormhole), which has something to do with fifth dimensions, and the bending of the space-time continuum (quantum physics!). The mission turns out to be nothing less than saving the world from evil, which has everything to do with conformity and the group-think of the status quo.

Rejected by twenty-six publishers! Twenty-six! Some comments: (1) too strange; (2) is this for children or adults; and my favorite (3) this deals with evil, maybe children shouldn't read it. My question is: who knows better about evil than children? Farrar, Straus and Giroux finally bit and still publishes the hardback to this day; it has never been out of print. Wrinkle went on to win a Newberry Medal, Sequoyah Book Award and the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award. Ms. L'Engle was also the official writer-in-residence at New York City's Cathedral of St. John the Divine. A Wrinkle in Time holds the honorable place of number twenty-three on the ALA's list of Most Frequently Challenged Books. That should be a sterling recommendation right there. The best news is that this novel is the first in what became a quintet, so if you love this book there are four more waiting for you.

P.S. A shout-out to Ellen Raskin from yesterday's recommendation for The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues: she did the artwork on the original dust jacket for A Wrinkle in Time.

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