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.

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)

16 thoughts on “100 Chapter Books Project: A Wrinkle in Time

  1. I loved this book as a child, but when I read it to my children about 10 or 12 years ago (so I was in my mid 40s) I didn’t care nearly as much for it. It was probably what got me interested in Science Fiction, a genre that I dropped after my teens, but have picked up occasionally in the last few years. I have discovered that I like the Classic SF from the 1950s-1970s best. Fantasy has stayed a favorite all these years though.

    • I definitely wish I had picked it up as a kid. I think it would have been influential on my reading choices and given me a more positive view of science/math. I think it’s really interesting that it didn’t hold up for you though. How did your kids end up liking it? Did they continue in the series at all?

  2. I loved it when I discovered it (and the whole series) as a child, yes. Factors, I think: It was one of the smarter books I found at the time; maybe my first speculative (or at least science fiction) read, too.

    • I have been trying to think back and remember if I read any science fiction as a kid and I honestly can’t remember any (which is weird because I watched a lot of sci-fi tv). I read a lot more realistic fiction then than I do now and more high fantasy but I don’t think I started reading sci-fi until later. Catching up has been fun but I do miss out on those books that are better read while young.

  3. This was a huge favorite for me as a kid, and I was a M L’E fan for years. I collected her books all through my teenage years, and sometime after college I kind of went off her a bit. Like a lot of young teen girls, I identified with Meg a lot–not in the math talent, but in the way she felt completely awkward with herself. Yeah, she can be pretty annoying! I probably was too. :)

  4. I definitely agree with you. I first read A Wrinkle in Time as an adult and I didn’t enjoy it. I really didn’t like Meg. Since then, I’ve reread it and the graphic novel first. I probably love the graphic novel more, but I enjoyed the rich description of the print version.

    The next three books on your list are amazing! When You Reach Me can be kind of confusing about the whole time travel thing but it’s a really good read.

    • That’s interesting that the sticking point seems to be Meg, at least for the two of us. I wonder what it is about her that kids don’t seem to mind but that rubs adults the wrong way.

      And When You Reach Me is a first re-read so I’m really excited to revisit it. I haven’t read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing since elementary school so that should be fun. I’m deciding whether to read it with Z since he’s in 4th grade right now. And I loved my first CPC read recently so I’m also really looking forward to Bud, Not Buddy. It’s a really wide variety of books!

  5. not growing up in an Anglophone country, I was not familiar with this book, and only recently heard about it. I tried first this GN. I was really not impressed by the story, and the illustrations were not very attractive to me either – I’m an artist myself, and very picky!
    So it definitely did not give me the desire to read “the real thing”

    • It’s a very unique art style, which I did find a little drab after a while in such a long book. If you weren’t impressed with the story, then I probably wouldn’t recommend the original because this did a really good job of gathering the essence of the story.

  6. Awww, Meg.

    This was my first time reading the novel, which is mostly surprising because it’s one of the books my mom teaches in her English classes, so I really don’t know how she let me slip by without this one.

    I hear ya about Meg – she can be SO grating. But in so many ways she reminds me of what I think I was probably like at that age, so every time she does something obnoxious I just kinda cringe and wish I could hug her.

    It felt a little dated to me, mostly in the obvious Biblical quotations – but I thought it was tempered nicely with Goethe and etc, so it didn’t bother me. I particularly liked the emphasis on differences making us stronger – it’s a common theme, but one that can’t be reiterated too often during these YA years, IMO.

    So overall, I did like it, and I will read it to my kids when they are older.

    • The graphic novel really pared back the religious and philosophical (and even scientific) aspects of the story. This might be why I focused more on Meg’s personality. It was completely front and center and not attractive. However, I do totally see it from your point of view and agree that hers could be an important perspective for a kid to read about, that balance between saying whatever you feel like saying and what things would be better left unsaid.

  7. I actually only read this book for the first time a few years ago. I think I was expecting more from it because it simply did not wow me. I am curious about the graphic novel adaptation though.

    • So strange that most of us who read it later in life were underwhelmed. You’re right, though … I’m not sure if it was that way because expectations were just too high by this point or if it’s a book that just works better for kids than adults.

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