I read the sad news this morning that Madeleine L’Engle passed away Thursday in Connecticut at the age of 88. Ms. L’Engle was an accomplished writer of dozens of poems, plays and books, including her first best-selling children’s novel (and perhaps most well-known work), “A Wrinkle in Time”, which was published in 1962 and won the John Newbery Award for best children’s book of 1963.
My first contact with Ms. L’Engle’s work was at the age of 10 when I checked “A Wrinkle in Time” out from either my school library or the local public library in 1965, 3 years after it was first published. It remained one of my favorite books through the years and I read it multiple times in my youth. A few years ago Cindy and I were discussing with our friends Kirk and Laura books we enjoyed and Laura mentioned how much she loved “A Wrinkle in Time” as a child. It occurred to me that I had not read the book in over 30 years, so shortly after that I again checked it out from the local library and re-read the wonderful tale.
Here is part of what she said in her Newbery Award acceptance speech back in August of 1963:
A writer of fantasy, fairly tale, or myth must inevitably discover that he is not writing out of his own knowledge or experience, but out of something both deeper and wider. I think that fantasy must possess the author and simply use him. I know that this is true of A Wrinkle in Time. I can’t possibly tell you how I came to write it. It was simply a book I had to write. I had no choice. And it was only after it was written that I realized what some of it meant.
Now, in the “strange, but true” category; last Saturday Cindy and I were at Borders Books near our home (Hey Rhon!) and as I was making my purchase I noticed a stack of “A Wrinkle in Time” paperbacks on the check-out counter right in front of me. I picked up one and showed it to Cindy saying, “Hey, look! I should get this.” But I didn’t. I remember thinking, “I wonder how old she is now?”
Then, a few days later, she was gone.
But I prefer to think Ms. L’Engle did not die this past Thursday, she just got caught in a tesseract.
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