Visit the world of A Wrinkle in Time in this new standalone story!
This standalone chapter book gives young readers the perfect entry into the world of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, and lifelong fans of the Time Quintet will recognize characters and settings from A Wind in the Door, the second book in the beloved series. Thoughtful, adventurous, and unique, Intergalactic P.S. 3 is a stunning story of the power of love to span the universe.
Charles Wallace Murry is old enough to start school, but his sister, Meg, and their friend Calvin know he isn’t cut out for school on Earth—Meg worries that he’ll be more misunderstood than ever. Luckily, with the help of the three celestial creatures Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who, and Mrs Which, there is another place where Charles Wallace can get his education: Intergalactic P.S. 3, a public school in a completely different galaxy. The three children travel through time and space to reach the school, but for them all to make it home safely, Meg must undergo a test that will challenge her inner strength, her perspective, and her ability to protect the ones she loves.
About the Author
Madeleine L'Engle (1918-2007) was the Newbery Medal-winning author of more than 60 books, including the much-loved A Wrinkle in Time. Born in 1918, L'Engle grew up in New York City, Switzerland, South Carolina and Massachusetts. Her father was a reporter and her mother had studied to be a pianist, and their house was always full of musicians and theater people. L'Engle graduated cum laude from Smith College, then returned to New York to work in the theater. While touring with a play, she wrote her first book, The Small Rain, originally published in 1945. She met her future husband, Hugh Franklin, when they both appeared in The Cherry Orchard. Upon becoming Mrs. Franklin, L'Engle gave up the stage in favor of the typewriter. In the years her three children were growing up, she wrote four more novels. Hugh Franklin temporarily retired from the theater, and the family moved to western Connecticut and for ten years ran a general store. Her book Meet the Austins, an American Library Association Notable Children's Book of 1960, was based on this experience. Her science fantasy classic A Wrinkle in Time was awarded the 1963 Newbery Medal. Two companion novels, A Wind in the Door and A Swiftly Tilting Planet (a Newbery Honor book), complete what has come to be known as The Time Trilogy, a series that continues to grow in popularity with a new generation of readers. Her 1980 book A Ring of Endless Light won the Newbery Honor. L'Engle passed away in 2007 in Litchfield, Connecticut.
Hope Larson is the author of All Summer Long, which was a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2018. She also adapted and illustrated A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel, which spent forty-four weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and for which she won an Eisner Award. She is additionally the author and illustrator of Salamander Dream, Gray Horses, Chiggers, and Mercury, and the author of Compass South and Knife's Edge, both illustrated by Rebecca Mock. She lives in North Carolina.
Date of Birth:January 12, 1918
Date of Death:September 6, 2007
Place of Birth:New York, NY
Place of Death:Litchfield, CT
Education:Smith College, 1941
Read an Excerpt
It started at the dinner table.
It was the Tuesday night after Labor Day. Wind and rain beat about the house as they often seemed to do the night before the start of school. — The weather feels the way I do about school beginning, Meg Murry thought.
Charles Wallace Murry, the baby of the family, sat kicking his pajamaed feet against the rungs of his chair. "I suppose it will be all right," he said, cheerfully if not convincingly.
Nobody responded, and nobody was eating, both of which things spoke louder than words. Mrs. Murry had made her special spaghetti, which everybody loved; she started to ask if anybody wanted seconds, then saw that nobody had finished firsts.
Mr. Murry's spectacles had slid down his nose, and he wore his absentminded-scientist expression, but he was not thinking about physics, or the present experiment he was conducting in his lab, in which he was very close to producing a controlled molecule of anti-matter. This work was of the gravest importance to the United States, but at this moment his concern was entirely for his youngest son.
Meg, too, was thinking of Charles Wallace, rather than her own usual teenage rebellions. "I won't even be on the same school bus with Charles Wallace. I'm not going to be able to help at all."
Calvin O'Keefe, who spent more time at the Murrys' than in his overcrowded home where there were always dirty dishes in the sink and where nobody ever had quite enough to eat, was twirling long strands of spaghetti thoughtfully around his fork; and he had forgotten the Parmesan cheese. Calvin had no personal problems with school; he was captain of the basketball team and would be president of the senior class. It was because of Calvin's friendship and attention that Meg was beginning to think of herself as a possible person rather than the ugly duckling who would never grow up into a swan. Calvin, too, at this moment, was wholly concentrated on the little boy sitting across from him at the table. "Even the twins won't be on your bus, Charles. I wish we'd spent more of the summer teaching you judo."
The Murry twins, Sandy and Dennys, were off with their baseball team, despite the rain, and had eaten — with no loss of appetite — earlier. This was just as well, Meg thought; they'd only get mad at Charles Wallace for being different.
"Judo wouldn't do me any good," Charles Wallace said.
Calvin started, "I know you're against violence, but —"
"Even if I weren't, what good would judo do against a whole busload of kids?"
Mrs. Murry absentmindedly poured milk into Calvin's glass, which was almost full. "Perhaps we're just borrowing trouble when we assume that school will be difficult for Charles."
Calvin pushed his carroty hair back from his face with an impatient gesture; his worn blue sweater sleeves were much too short and exposed his strong wrists and forearms. "Let's face facts. Charles Wallace is going to get jumped on the first day, and some of the kids play rough. We already know that."
Charles Wallace leaned his elbows on the table, his chin in his hands. "You make me sound like some kind of freak, and a helpless one at that."
Calvin nodded grimly. "Facts number one and two."
Mr. Murry said, "Now wait a minute —"
"Father!" Meg cried. "Calvin's right. Charles Wallace is six years old and he's got an IQ so high it's outside testing limits, you told me that yourself. But everybody around here is used to thinking he's not quite bright because he didn't talk till he was four. Even now he won't open his mouth unless he's around us."
"You know why," Charles Wallace said. He had grown during the summer, but his pajamas were inherited from the twins and were shabby and a little too big for him; instead of making him seem older, this made him look small and vulnerable.
"Because you know more about people than they want you to know."
"I don't want to know. That's why I don't talk. I'm never quite sure what they've told me in words and what they've told me in the other ways."
"There are times," Meg said, "when I wish you didn't always know what I'm thinking."
"You think very loud."
"Only to you. And that's the problem."
"Now, look, Meg," Mrs. Murry said, "your father and I have spent a number of wakeful nights discussing this. Charles Wallace looks like a perfectly normal six year old —"
"He's a mutant," Calvin said flatly.
Meg banged her fist on the table. "I'm not. And if school was awful for me, it's going to be even worse for Charles."
Mr. Murry pushed up his spectacles again. "It was largely your own fault, Meg. Calvin has managed."
"By pretending to conform." Calvin sounded bitter. "And by being bigger and stronger than the other kids. Charles is not."
"Don't you think," Mrs. Murry suggested, "that you may be underestimating Charles Wallace's adaptability?"
"I don't want him to adapt!" Meg shouted. "I want him to be Charles, special and different."
"Stop it, Meg," her father said. "We don't want Charles Wallace to stop being himself, either. That's not what adaptability means. And have you an alternate suggestion?"
The wind shook the house, and rain dashed wildly against the windows. Charles Wallace cocked his head to listen, gave a pleased laugh. "Yes, she does, and they're about to arrive."
"Charles! How did you know?"
"You told me."
"But I wasn't even sure myself that they'd come."
"Who?" Mrs. Murry asked. "What are you talking about?"
Again the house quivered against the wind's attack. Then there was a strange and sudden shimmer in the air, and the flames of the can- dles on the dining table stretched towards the ceiling. Meg jumped up. The shimmering seemed to solidify, then to separate into three shimmers, to quiver, assemble, gather color, and there, in the middle of the large kitchen- dining room, were three extraordinary beings.
Charles Wallace clapped his hands joyfully. "The Mrs W! Meg, thank you for thinking of them!"
Now, if you do not already know Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who, and Mrs Which, it is not easy to describe them. It's simpler to say the things they are not than the things they are. First of all, they are not witches, though it amuses Mrs Which to materialize in a somewhat witchlike form. This doesn't work quite as well as she thinks it does, because she finds it almost impossible to materialize completely; you can always see through her, and sometimes all that is visible is a shimmer topped by a peaked hat; and her voice sounds like the wind bumping into unexpected corners in a tunnel. Mrs Who is easily recognizable because she wears spectacles, round and twice as large and twice as thick as Meg's. She is a few billion years younger than Mrs Which, and can materialize with comparative ease, but has a hard time verbalizing; so when she is with earthlings she finds it easier to use quotations from earth philosophers and poets than to struggle for her own words and phrases. Mrs Whatsit is the youngest of the three, being not more than twice the age of our own solar system, so she is more apt at both materializing and verbalizing than Mrs Which and Mrs Who.
Meg and Charles Wallace and Calvin came to know the Mrs W when Mr. Murry, doing secret work for the government, was trapped on an alien planet and the children helped to rescue him. During the year since their return they had often talked about seeing the three strange and wonderful extraterrestrial beings again, and had come to think that this was not likely. "Except in time of extraordinary need," Meg had said. "I'm sure they'd come to us then."
Now she gave a slightly awed curtsy. "Thank you for —"
"Nno pprreambbles," Mrs Which said.
"I'm so sorry, my lambs!" Mrs Whatsit adjusted the multicolored assortment of shawls and scarves which she enjoyed wearing when on earth, and which made her look like a badly assembled bundle of missionary clothing. "We're in the midst of a particularly difficult assignment in Alpha Centauri, so we can't waste a second on preliminaries. Meg sent for us, and she was quite right to do so. For Charles Wallace to start first grade tomorrow will not do at all."
"How did you send for them, Meg?" Calvin asked, bowing in greeting to the three.
"I just thought and thought and thought. All last night I kept setting my alarm clock for every half hour, so I wouldn't fall asleep, and I called and called."
Mrs Whatsit nodded, so that the man's felt hat, perched precariously atop her collection of shawls, almost fell off. "You did very well indeed, Meg, particularly since it is not one of your talents."
Mr. Murry had risen when the Mrs W arrived, and now he spoke rather stiffly. "Just what do you suggest? My wife and I have discussed the situation most carefully, and we feel that Charles Wallace must start school."
From Mrs Which came a shimmer of disapproval. "Charles knows more than is permissible in any first grader."
"We know that," Mrs. Murry said, "but we hope that if we don't make any issue of it at all, the children will accept him."
"The children!" Mrs Whatsit said. "Of course the children will accept him. We're not worrying about the children. The teacher is the problem. There's not one teacher in that school who is capable of accepting Charles Wallace as he is."
"Mr. Jenkins!" Meg clutched at her head in despair. "If Mr. Jenkins thinks I'm weird, Charles Wallace would really have him up a tree, and when Mr. Jenkins gets up a tree he gets mean."
"It won't do at all," Mrs Whatsit said. "We have come to take Charles Wallace away to school."
But Mr. Murry responded decisively and negatively. "We've already thought about that. Charles is far too young for boarding school, and why would the grownups there understand him any better than right here in the village school?"
Meg understood what her father did not. She went to Mrs Whatsit and stood close to her. "You mean you're taking Charles Wallace really away — to a school that isn't on our planet, don't you? You're going to tesser him somewhere."
"No," Mr. Murry said flatly. "We've had enough tessering. The family is together at last. I won't have us separated again."
Mrs Who let out a gusty sigh and pushed at her spectacles in a gesture reminiscent of Meg as well as Mr. Murry. "Necesse est cum insanientibus furere, nisi solus relinqueris."
Mr. Murry's shaggy scientist's hair bristled. "Mrs Who, I hardly think we are mad."
"Then pay attention to Meg," Mrs Whatsit said. "She is quite right. We are going to the Third Planet of the Teachers."
"No." Mrs. Murry put her arms about her small son.
Meg said, "Mother, Father, you don't understand. It's an interplanetary, intergalactic school. It's a big honor for Charles. You have to let him go."
Mrs Who's spectacles glinted. "L'homme vit souvent avec lui-même, et il a besoin de vertu; il vit avec les autres, et il a besoin d'honneur. The Maxims of Chamfort. Man needs virtue because he must be often alone; he needs honor because he has to live with others."
Mrs. Murry tried not to hold Charles Wallace too closely. "Where is this — this interplanetary school?"
"On the planet Framoch, in the Mandrion solar system of the Veganuel galaxy," Mrs Whatsit said.
Mrs Which quivered with impatience and almost disappeared. "Tthere iss nno ttime fforr dissscusssion."
Meg ran around the table to her father. "Please, Father. You've tessered. You know there are things for Charles to learn that he can't learn here in first grade."
Mr. Murry exchanged glances with his wife. "Meg is right. We've always said that we would love our children with open hands. We can't hold Charles now."
Mrs. Murry took her arms from Charles, but said, "He's so young — and all alone —"
"Nnott allone," Mrs Which boomed. "Megg and Ccalvinn will go, tooo."
"Me?" Meg squeaked.
"You, petkin," Mrs Whatsit said.
"But I'm not special the way Charles is. I flunk exams and fight with my teachers —"
"You will learn not to fight with your teachers."
Meg rushed over to her mother, then back to her father, almost falling over her own feet in her excitement. "Please, let's go at once, before we have time to be too scared."
"Meglet," her father started, but Mrs Which interrupted.
"Shee iss rrightt. Therre iss nno ppointt in delayy."
Mr. Murry demurred, "But Meg doesn't tesser well —"
"I'll take care of her," Calvin said. "Mr. Murry, please, we'll learn important things to bring back."
"How do we know you'll ever come back? It's a very large universe, and Veganuel is halfway across it."
"Father," Meg said, "we brought you back, didn't we?"
"Yes, Meg, but we came very near to not getting back, even with all the help the Mrs W could give us. The powers of darkness are still there. If you think evil is going to let you alone this time just because we won last time, you don't know much about evil — and you don't. That's why I'm worried."
"But, Father, you've always said we can't refuse to do something just because we're scared ... and I am scared, please, Father —"
Mrs. Murry drew Meg to her. "It will be all right once you're there. Send us a postcard." She laughed, but there were tears in her eyes. She turned to Calvin. "I'm glad you're going."
Mrs Which glimmered impatiently. "Nnoww. I ddo nnott llike llongg- drawwnn-outt ffarewwelllls."
"Wait —" Mr. Murry urged.
Mrs Who held up her hand. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. Sophocles. In a just cause, even weakness may win the day."
"You know that," Mrs Whatsit said to Mr. and Mrs. Murry. "Let them go, now. This is too important a trip for further discussion."
Mr. Murry held out his open hands.
And then Meg felt the wildness of tessering through absolute darkness, absolute bodilessness. In the split second between time and time she was whirled from feeling to non-feeling, matter to matterlessness. All the homely five senses vanished, to be replaced by an awareness past sense, which was wholly and acutely conscious during the trip through the intangible world of the strange spaces between matter.
It had all been so sudden that there had been no time for panic to build up inside her, and she knew that the Mrs W would never forsake her, never leave her in the absolute non-ness of the wrinkle between mass and time. When she felt her feet on solid ground again, she felt also the warm comfort of Mrs Whatsit's arms about her.
They were standing on a lush, green hill. This World of the Teachers was a kaleidoscope of kindergarten colors, of warm scents and gusting breezes, completely different from any of the planets she had visited before. Around them were trees, flowers, birds, and a sense of spring as spring on earth hints at being but never fully realizes. Below them, where the hill leveled out into a flower-filled field, was a river, which, instead of flowing peacefully, splashed and bounded with waterfalls and whirlpools. The sun was delightfully warm, but not hot.
The three Mrs W drew together. "You need no gifts from us this time," Mrs Whatsit said, "though you might remember some of the things you learned on Uriel and Camazotz and Ixchel. From you we expect the gifts of your learning. We will return for your graduation exercises." They were gone. Where the three forms had been was a clump of daisies dancing in the wind. Meg almost thought she saw the atoms of the air drawing in to fill the space where the Mrs W had stood.
"Charles —" Meg said. "You haven't said anything."
Charles Wallace's usually rosy face looked a little pale above the faded blue pajamas which he still wore. But he smiled at her and slipped his hand into hers. "Nobody gave me a chance. I would have liked to put on some clothes."
"But if you hadn't wanted to come, you'd have said something, wouldn't you?"
"It's all right, Meg," Charles said. "I'm a little scared; I don't think it's going to be easy here. But I'm probably less scared than I would have been going to school at home."
From behind them came shouts and laughter and singing, and a group came running up the hillside: a group of what? Children? They were children, yes, and some were even children who would have been recognized as children on earth. Then there were those who were familiar to Meg and Charles Wallace and Calvin, who were grateful to see small versions of the beautiful flying creatures from Uriel; of the strange, tentacled, eyeless beasts from Ixchel, horrifying to a human being at first sight but dearly loved now by the Murrys and Calvin. Then there were what must have been children of other planets, of other forms of life, some beautiful as the Uriel creatures, others even more terrible in appearance than the Ixchel beasts. Meg, recoiling in instinctive fear, remembered Aunt Beast, and that to judge by appearance is a mark of ignorance. Nevertheless, she held Charles Wallace's hand more tightly and moved a step closer to Calvin.
Excerpted from "Intergalactic P.S.3"
Copyright © 1970 Crosswicks, Ltd..
Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
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