October 6, 2011

A Wrinkle in Time - by Madeline L'Engle

This is one of those books that, while it feels a bit outdated, has really stood the test of time.  For 49 years Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin have captivated readers with their fabulous journey into the great and somewhat creepy depths of space to rescue a lost father, and the writing still sparkles.  Are there more engaging and easy to follow works of fantasy for young people these days?  Absolutely.  I'm willing to bet, though, that all of their authors were fans of Madeline L'Engle.  Reading this book, I can't help picturing J.K. Rowling wandering around with a beat-up copy of this book in her hand.

I've been reading this aloud to my fourth graders, and while the beginning was tedious for them, now that we've passed the halfway point they are hooked.  The characters, though they are oddballs, become so real to the reader that we feel as if we were bravely walking into CENTRAL Central Intelligence on Camazotz at their side.  A book doesn't stay so popular for so long if the writing isn't exemplary, and Ms. L'Engle is hard to top in that regard.

There are many important lessons to be learned from this book, including:  1) What you see is not necessarily what you get.  2) Everyone has their strengths, though they may not be obvious, and even negative traits can be useful in the right situations.  3)  It's okay to be different, no matter what others think of you.  Be proud of who you are.  4) Stay together.  Love and courage can conquer all. 5) Watch out for red-eyed dudes who can read your thoughts.  Seriously.

If you love this book, you MUST read Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me.

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