Monday, February 26, 2018

A Wrinkle in Time

Madeleine L'Engle
Big name publishers said the book was too hard for children to understand. 

The author, Madeleine L'Engle, disagreed. She thought children would understand perfectly -- but she feared it was too hard for adults.

The book, of course, is L'Engle's Newberry-winning A Wrinkle in Time, a book that has been in continuous publication since 1962 -- much to the chagrin of the publishers who rejected it (at least 26!). 

In this story, three children -- Meg, Calvin, and Charles Wallace -- travel by means of wrinkles in space and time across the galaxy to the beleaguered planet of Camazotz. They come to a town "laid out in harsh angular patterns." Eerily, all the children here bounce their balls in the exact same rhythm. Up, down. Up, down. All the mothers call their children in to dinner at the exact same time. Everything in this world seems to be pre-planned and controlled by an evil mastermind.

In order to save Meg's father from the dark power of Camazotz, the children must draw on more strength and courage than they know they possess. They are helped by three mystical, magical creatures known only as Mrs Who, Mrs Which, and Mrs Whatzit. Like Dr. Who's TARDIS, this story is bigger on the inside than the outside, and it keeps getting bigger the further into it you go.

"The Persistence of Memory," Salvador Dali

Ways to Experience This Story

Read the book. If you don't have a copy, order it online or visit your local library. It's a book you can read again and again and always find something new. 

Or download it to your Kindle or Nook.

Listen to the audio-book. I've been enjoying the Audible version that features an "appreciation" by Ava Duvernay (who directs the new Wrinkle movie), an introduction by Madeleine L'Engle, and an afterward by Charlotte Jones Voiklis, who is Madeleine's granddaughter. Listening to this story makes me feel like a much-loved child, being tucked in at bedtime with a favorite story.

Watch the movie. On March 9th, you can visit "a theater near you" to view the new film version, starring Storm Reid (Meg), Levi Miller (Calvin), Deric McCabe (Charles Wallace), Chris Pine (Dr. Alex Murray), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Mrs. Murray), Reese Witherspoon (Mrs Whatsit), Mindy Kaling (Mrs Who), and Oprah Winfrey (Mrs Which). 

Note: In case you're wondering if the Stark Raving Mythopath is getting a little sloppy with her punctuation, the three Mrs W's are spelled with the British version of Mrs -- which isn't followed by a period. In fact, when the book was first published, Madeleine was disappointed to find that an over-zealous copy editor had added periods after every occurrence of Mrs.  I think that omitting the periods gives these characters an extra hint of mystery and other-worldliness. 

"The Past," Anastasiya Markovich

So what makes this story so special, so beloved?
  • Meg Murray, the main character, is easy to relate to. She's gifted, but she doesn't know it. She feels clumsy and stupid, and she doesn't fit in at school. All us misfits relate to Meg.
  • In fact, all the main characters -- Meg, Calvin, and Charles Wallace -- are just the sort of people I would like to have as friends. Self-effacing to a fault, they go beyond surface values and think about important things. I want to spend time with them.
  • The stakes are sky high. The life of Meg's father is on the line. In fact, all their lives are at risk in this space-and-time epic. The evil is dark and menacing and seems impossible to defeat.
  • Sci-fi is the perfect vehicle for exploring the big ideas of philosophy and theology. And this author isn't afraid to ask the hard questions.
  • The science is fun -- tesseracts and space travel -- the nature of time -- and Madeleine L'Engle explains complex concepts in a way that mere mortals can understand.

Astronomical clock
Fans of A Wrinkle in Time -- around the world -- are looking forward to the March release of the new movie.  I hear people talking about it.
"I hope they didn't mess it up."
"I heard they already did..."
Well, we can only wait and see. I imagine there will be much to enjoy in this new version. And even if it somehow disappoints, there are many other ways to enjoy this timeless tale about time. 🕝 🕢 🕧

Want to know more about Madeleine L'Engle? Click here:

  Madeleine L'Engle: Wikipedia
  Bouncing ball: Author: Original uploader was AndyD at en.wikibooks
  Persistence of Memory: painting by Salvador Dali, from Wikipedia
  The Past: painting by Anastasiya Markovich
  Astronomical Clock: Author: Steve Collis from Melbourne, Australia
  Blue Clock:  Public Domain photo


  1. glad to see some more posts from you after a long hiatus.

  2. Thanks, Icarus. It's good to see you too!