Author Worth Reading: Madeleine L’Engle

19Oct09
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Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Quartet series was a huge influence on me when I was growing up. Here were exciting books written for kids that also contained real science and travel to other planets. Her books introduced me to the concepts of time as a fourth dimension and bending space-time to travel vast distances across the universe.

I recently reread A Wrinkle in Time (1962) to see if it was as good as I remembered. I was captivated once again by the story of three exceptional children escorted across the universe by the other-dimensional beings Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which and Mrs. Whatsit to rescue their physicist father.

But what struck me this time was what a great role model the character of Meg must have been for young female readers like me. She is smart, resourceful and courageous when she has to be; she has flaws, which she sometimes uses to her advantage, and she doesn’t rely on others to rescue her from difficult situations. She can even do math and gets a great geeky boyfriend.

A Wrinkle in Time won the Newbery Medal in 1963, and it was adapted for television by Disney. The other books in the Time Quartet are A Wind in the Door (1973), A Swiftly Tilting Planet (1978) and Many Waters (1986). In addition, L’Engle has published many more science fiction books for young readers, including The Arm of the Starfish (1965), which features Meg’s daughter Poly as the main character. Madeleine L’Engle died at the age of 89 in 2007, but her books continue to make a wonderful introduction to the genre.

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