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Maria Salvadore

Reading Rockets' children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids' books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

Reflections on 'A Wrinkle in Time'

November 15, 2012

The sure sign of a classic is reader response. If adults reread a childhood favorite and it reads well, if it continues to "speak" to new generations of readers, if it feels fresh again and again — well, in my estimation that book is a classic.

Though it was considered an odd book when first published in 1962, Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time has become a classic. Readers remember, read, reread, and discuss it.

And now Leonard Marcus has taken a unique approach to the complex woman who wrote A Wrinkle in Time in a book entitled Listening for Madeleine: A Portrait of Madeleine L'Engle in Many Voices (Farrar). Through recorded interviews Marcus conducted, many sides of L'Engle are presented: as a young person, a writer, friend, mentor, and ultimately an icon.

Marcus says that the portrait of L'Engle that emerges is impressionistic. It is that, but it is also deeply satisfying to glimpse the multifaceted writer who has touched the lives of so many readers. The recollections are at times humorous, sometimes touching, but all provide some insight into L'Engle, her work, and her legacy.

I particularly enjoyed the black and white photographs of Madeleine L'Engle at different times in her life. They set the stage for the snapshots that follow.

A Wrinkle in Time has made it into the 21st century in another way. L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel has been adapted and illustrated by Hope Larson (Farrar). Amazingly (at least to me), it is a fine variation that seems to capture the book's essence by not trying to be the original.

L'Engle will continue to live on. In its 50th year, readers of all ages can now listen for Madeleine through others' voices.

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"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." — Walt Disney