Thursday, September 30, 2010

Banned Books Week... A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle

It was a dark and stormy night... in the world of banned books!

How can you not just love a story that starts out with, " It was a dark and stormy night."! As part of Banned Books Week I decided I would open the beloved children's classic (and challenged book), A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle and hop on board for an amazing time traveling adventure with Meg, Calvin and Charles Wallace. And what an adventure it was! I met three unearthly strangers (Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which), traveled to Uriel where I took a ride on a beautiful centaur with wings up to the tallest mountains that disappeared into the clouds, I took a terrifying trip to Camazotz, a dark planet, where the dark force there wanted to take away my individuality, but who was finally defeated by love, and I met other strange creatures that were as curious about me as I was about them (tentacles and all) Oh, and I almost forgot... I learned about a tesseract, which of course is a wrinkle in time.

The story centers around the Murry family, whose parents are scientists. Mr. Murry has disappeared after a government experiment, which we later find out has to do with time travel. Mrs. Murry and her 4 children, Meg, Charles Wallace, Denny and Sandy, and faithful dog Fortinbras continue with their lives while waiting to hear from Mr. Murry. It's been a year with no word, rumors abound, and Meg is getting ever so impatient. When one dark and stormy night a stranger enters their lives, Meg learns that there is a way to find her father and hopefully bring him home. With the help of her younger brother Charles Wallace and soon to be best friend Calvin, they are whisked off through time and space to places unknown...

A classic story of the battle between good and evil, Madeline L'Engle has created a wonderful fantasy world, with a perfect protagonist in Meg that any young girl of a certain age can relate to, who struggles with being "different" from the other kids she goes to school with (awkward AND with glasses), but who eventually comes to appreciate her own uniqueness. The writing is wonderful, with passages that seem to be a feast for the eyes...

"They left the great granite plain and flew over a garden even more beautiful than anything in a dream. In it were gathered many of the creatures like the one Mrs. Whatsit had become, some lying among the flowers some swimming in a broad, crystal river that flowed through the garden, some flying in what Meg was sure must be a kind of dance, moving in and out abover the trees. They were making music, music that came not only from their throats but from the movement of their great wings as well."

Why has A Wrinkle in Time been repeatedly challenged? It was first challenged, but retained, in 1985 by a parent of a Polk City, Fl. Elementary School student contending that the story promoted witchcraft, crystal balls and demons. Then it was challenged in 1990 in the Anniston, Alabama schools because someone felt that the book sends a mixed signal to children about good and evil. The complaint also objected to listing the name of Jesus Christ together with the names of great artists, philosophers, scientists, and religious leaders when referring to defenders of Earth against evil. In 1996 it was also challenged, but retained, by the Catawba County School Board in Newton, N.C. A parent requested the book be pulled from the school libraries because it allegedly undermines religious beliefs.

"What a child doesn’t realize until he is grown is that in responding to fantasy, fairly tale, and myth he is responding to what Erich Fromm calls the one universal language, the one and only language in the world that cuts across all barriers of time, place, race, and culture. Many Newbery books are from this realm, beginning with Dr. Dolittle; books on Hindu myth, Chinese folklore, the life of Buddha, tales of American Indians, books that lead our children beyond all boundaries and into the one language of all mankind." ...From Madeline L'Engle Newbery Award acceptance speech

If you haven't read A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle, I highly recommend it! It was 190 pages of pure pleasure. And the adventures don't stop there either- Madeline L'Engle wrote a series of books about the Murry family called The Time Quartet, which includes A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, and An Acceptable Time. Did you read this challenged book as a child?! I wish I had! *P.S. This Book is Kindle Ready!

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