100 Chapter Books Project: A Wrinkle in Time

Madeleine L’Engle is probably best known for her novel A Wrinkle in Time, an apparently beloved book as it comes in right at the top, number two on the Top 100 list. This means that not only did it show up on a lot of the lists submitted but that it was also highly ranked on those lists. Sadly, I only read it for the first time in 2008 and it didn’t blow my mind the way that it probably would have when I was a kid. I was looking forward to this reread though and I chose to read Hope Larson’s graphic novel adaptation since I was curious about it as well.

What it’s about: Meg’s physicist father has been missing for years but her mother insists he is simply on a job for the government and will be back someday. And now Meg’s younger brother Charles Wallace has made three strange acquaintances–Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which–who are of the same opinion, that Mr. Murry is alive (though probably not well) somewhere far away and he needs their help. The children therefore must trust these beings to get them across the universe by tesser, a bending of time that facilitates space travel.

Age level: Grades 4-6

Best thing: As I read the graphic novel version of Wrinkle, it was necessarily a condensed version of the novel. I actually found it to be much clearer than the original. Larson’s artwork is strange and blue and really quite amazing in the way it jibed with my mental pictures of the story. I highly recommend it to both fans of the original and those new to the novel.

Worst thing: Even more than the first time I read this book, I really disliked Meg. I know that her tenacity and obstinance and temper are supposed to be some of her strengths but seeing her face next to her words somehow made her more annoying to me. I couldn’t see why Cal would start liking her at all.

Verdict: Buy/Borrow

I still don’t think this book would appeal to everyone but obviously it does appeal to a lot of young readers. Was this a favorite of yours when you were young? Why?

The next book, When You Reach Me, is based on this one so it will be interesting to read them back to back. I think I’m going to try it as an audiobook.

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Schedule – February through May
note: dates are not necessarily set in stone – posts may go up a day or two before or after
February 28 – #11 When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (2009)
March 15 – #35 Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume (1972)
March 31 – #60 Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis (1999)
April 15 –  #90 The Children of Green Knowe by L.M. Boston (1954)
April 30 – Spring Break!
May 15 – #68 The High King by Lloyd Alexander (1968)

100 Chapter Books Project: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Goblet_fire

Just barely making it onto the Top 100 list at #98 is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling, fourth in the Harry Potter series. (Three of the books–Sorcerer’s StonePrisoner of Azkaban and this one–made it onto the list.)

As I’m just recovering from a horrid weekend of stomach virus and Z and I are still reading this together (Harry just completed the First Task) and none of you really need me to tell you the good and/or bad of this book or whether to buy it or not (duh … BUY IT), let’s just talk about the series.

Is this one you plan on buying (or have already bought) for your kids’/students’ shelves? And is this series going to become more beloved or less so as time goes by?

I already owned the series for myself before Z was even a twinkle in anyone’s eye, buying the last couple of books on release day even though I was a sort-of-adult at the time. But even if I didn’t own them already, I’m pretty sure that I would have bought them for Z’s shelves at some point. He loves the movies and looks forward to each of the books. I think that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter should go a long way to keeping the love for HP alive too. I was very excited to see the news about the new Diagon Alley opening this summer even though I have no idea when I will ever make it there. I’ll probably just have to wait until they finish building the California version.

I’ve got the graphic novel version of A Wrinkle In Time (adapted and illustrated by Hope Larson) to read next. It’s longer than I expected it to be so I’m excited. I only read it for the first time a couple of years ago so I’m glad to be revisiting it so soon and in a different format.

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Schedule – January through April

note: dates are not necessarily set in stone – posts may go up a day or two before or after

February 15 – #2 A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (1962)

February 28 – #11 When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (2009)

March 15 – #35 Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume (1972)

March 31 – #60 Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis (1999)

April 15 –  #90 The Children of Green Knowe by L.M. Boston (1954)

April 30 – Spring Break!

100 Chapter Books Project: The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken (1962) is #57 on the Top 100 list which means it obviously stuck with quite a few readers. I only recently started reading Aiken with the Armitage Family stories (I highly recommend the full collection — The Serial Garden) and was eager to keep exploring her work. This book is much darker that those other tales but still displays her special talent for tapping a range of emotions and for writing memorable characters.

What it’s about: Sylvia arrives at Willoughby Chase to live with her cousin Bonnie Green at just the wrong time. Bonnie’s parents are headed off on a sea voyage for her mother’s health and have invited a distant relative, Miss Slighcarp, to take care of the estate and to act as governess to the children. But the moment that the Greens leave, Miss Slighcarp’s real intentions come to light and the girls must find a way to save themselves and their home.

Age level: Grades 4-6

Best character: This has to be shared by some of the supporting characters — Pattern (maid), Simon (gooseboy), James (footman) and Dr. Field (doctor). They all come through when the girls need them with little or no chance of reward and considerable risk in some cases. They are all one-hundred percent brave and good.

Worst character: Well, there’s no question that this is Miss Slighcarp. There’s a scene where she comes into the room wearing Bonnie’s mother’s best gown that is particularly horrid. And the fact that she isn’t just satisfied with stealing money and plotting her relatives’ deaths but also has to dish out misery to dozens of random children is incredibly evil.

Verdict: Buy

There seem to be ten or eleven more books in the Wolves Chronicles. If you’ve read some or all of them, which would you recommend? I would love to keep exploring the series!

Z and I are still reading Goblet of Fire and I’m not sure we’ll be done in time for the next blog entry. It takes a long time to get through a 700+ page book while only reading 20 minutes a night (and taking a few nights off during vacation)! Luckily, I’ll be capable of writing about it anyway since this is a multi-time reread for me.

And, if you’ve noticed, the next two books after that are A Wrinkle in Time and When You Reach Me. Not only do they make a good paired read (the second is based on the first) but there’s also a graphic novel version of Wrinkle in case you are due for a reread but are also in the mood for something slightly different. And if you read them a little early (before the end of January), they can count toward the 2014 Sci-Fi Experience.

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Schedule – January through April
note: dates are not necessarily set in stone – posts may go up a day or two before or after
January 31 – #98 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (2000)
February 15 – #2 A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (1962)
February 28 – #11 When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (2009)
March 15 – #35 Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume (1972)
March 31 – #60 Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis (1999)
April 15 –  #90 The Children of Green Knowe by L.M. Boston (1954)
April 30 – Spring Break!