Fifty years ago, Madeleine L'Engle introduced the world to A Wrinkle in Time and the wonderful and unforgettable characters Meg and Charles Wallace Murry, and their friend Calvin O'Keefe.
When the children learn that Mr. Murry has been captured by the Dark Thing, they time travel to Camazotz, where they must face the leader IT in the ultimate battle between good and evil—a journey that threatens their lives and our universe.
A Newbery Award winner, A Wrinkle in Time is an iconic novel that continues to inspire millions of fans around the world. This special edition has been redesigned and includes an introduction by Katherine Paterson, an afterword by Madeleine L'Engle's granddaughter Charlotte Jones Voiklis that includes photographs and memorabilia, the author's Newbery Medal acceptance speech, and other bonus materials.
A Wrinkle in Time is the winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal. It is the first book in The Time Quintet, which consists of A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, and An Acceptable Time.
A Wrinkle in Time is now a movie from Disney, directed by Ava DuVernay, starring Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling.
This title has Common Core connections.
Praise for A Wrinkle in Time:
“A Wrinkle in Time is one of my favorite books of all time. I've read it so often, I know it by heart. Meg Murry was my hero growing up. I wanted glasses and braces and my parents to stick me in an attic bedroom. And I so wanted to save Charles Wallace from IT.” —Meg Cabot
“A book that every young person should read, a book that provides a road map for seeking knowledge and compassion even at the worst of times, a book to make the world a better place.” —Cory Doctorow
“[L'Engle's] work is one of the things that made me a writer, a science fiction and fantasy fan, an avid reader. Hers were the first books I read that mixed math and magic, the quest and the quantum.” —Scott Westerfeld
“A Wrinkle in Time taught me that you can tackle even the deepest and most slippery concepts of physics and philosophy in fiction for young readers. It's a great lesson for all writers, and a tough tesseract to follow.” —David Lubar
Books by Madeleine L'Engle
A Wrinkle in Time Quintet
A Wrinkle in Time
A Wind in the Door
A Swiftly Tilting Planet
An Acceptable Time
A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel by Madeleine L'Engle; adapted & illustrated by Hope Larson
Intergalactic P.S. 3 by Madeleine L'Engle; illustrated by Hope Larson: A standalone story set in the world of A Wrinkle in Time.
The Austin Family Chronicles
Meet the Austins (Volume 1)
The Moon by Night (Volume 2)
The Young Unicorns (Volume 3)
A Ring of Endless Light (Volume 4) A Newbery Honor book!
Troubling a Star (Volume 5)
The Polly O'Keefe books
The Arm of the Starfish
Dragons in the Waters
A House Like a Lotus
And Both Were Young
The Joys of Love
Related collections and offers
|Series:||Time Quintet Series , #1|
|Edition description:||Special edition, 50th Anniversary Commemorative Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)|
|Lexile:||740L (what's this?)|
|Age Range:||10 - 14 Years|
About the Author
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.
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
A Wrinkle in Time: 50th Anniversary Edition
IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT.
In her attic bedroom Margaret Murry, wrapped in an old patchwork quilt, sat on the foot of her bed and watched the trees tossing in the frenzied lashing of the wind. Behind the trees clouds scudded frantically across the sky. Every few moments the moon ripped through them, creating wraithlike shadows that raced along the ground.
The house shook.
Wrapped in her quilt, Meg shook.
She wasn't usually afraid of weather.It's not just the weather, she thought.It's the weather on top of everything else. On top of me. On top of Meg Murry doing everything wrong.
School. School was all wrong. She'd been dropped down to the lowest section in her grade. That morning one of her teachers had said crossly, "Really, Meg, I don't understand how a childwith parents as brilliant as yours are supposed to be can be such a poor student. If you don't manage to do a little better you'll have to stay back next year."
During lunch she'd roughhoused a little to try to make herself feel better, and one of the girls said scornfully, "After all, Meg, we aren't grade-school kids anymore. Why do you always act like such a baby?"
And on the way home from school, as she walked up the road with her arms full of books, one of the boys had said something about her "dumb baby brother." At this she'd thrown the books on the side of the road and tackled him with every ounce of strength she had, and arrived home with her blouse torn and a big bruise under one eye.
Sandy and Dennys, her ten-year-old twin brothers, who got home from school an hour earlier than she did, were disgusted. "Let us do the fighting when it's necessary," they told her.
A delinquent, that's what I am, she thought grimly. That's what they'll be saying next. Not Mother. But Them. Everybody Else. I wish Father
But it was still not possible to think about her father without the danger of tears. Only her mother could talk about him in a natural way, saying, "When your father gets back"
Gets back from where? And when? Surely her mother must know what people were saying, must be aware of the smugly vicious gossip. Surely it must hurt her as it did Meg. But if it did she gave no outward sign. Nothing ruffled the serenity of her expression.
Why can't I hide it, too? Meg thought. Why do I always have to show everything?
The window rattled madly in the wind, and she pulled the quilt close about her. Curled up on one of her pillows, a gray fluff of kitten yawned, showing its pink tongue, tucked its head under again, and went back to sleep.
Everybody was asleep. Everybody except Meg. Even Charles Wallace, the "dumb baby brother," who had an uncanny way of knowing when she was awake and unhappy, and who would come, so many nights, tiptoeing up the attic stairs to hereven Charles Wallace was asleep.
How could they sleep? All day on the radio there had been hurricane warnings. How could they leave her up in the attic in the rickety brass bed, knowing that the roof might be blown right off the house and she tossed out into the wild night sky to land who knows where?
Her shivering grew uncontrollable.
You asked to have the attic bedroom, she told herself savagely.Mother let you have it because you're the oldest. It's a privilege, not a punishment.
"Not during a hurricane, it isn't a privilege," she said aloud. She tossed the quilt down on the foot of the bed, and stood up. The kitten stretched luxuriously, and looked up at her with huge, innocent eyes.
"Go back to sleep," Meg said. "Just be glad you're a kitten and not a monster like me." She looked at herself in the wardrobe mirror and made a horrible face, baring a mouthful of teethcovered with braces. Automatically she pushed her glasses into position, ran her fingers through her mouse-brown hair, so that it stood wildly on end, and let out a sigh almost as noisy as the wind.
The wide wooden floorboards were cold against her feet. Wind blew in the crevices about the window frame, in spite of the protection the storm sash was supposed to offer. She could hear wind howling in the chimneys. From all the way downstairs she could hear Fortinbras, the big black dog, starting to bark. He must be frightened, too. What was he barking at? Fortinbras never barked without reason.
Suddenly she remembered that when she had gone to the post office to pick up the mail she'd heard about a tramp who was supposed to have stolen twelve sheets from Mrs. Buncombe, the constable's wife. They hadn't caught him, and maybe he was heading for the Murrys' house right now, isolated on a back road as it was; and this time maybe he'd be after more than sheets. Meg hadn't paid much attention to the talk about the tramp at the time, because the postmistress, with a sugary smile, had asked if she'd heard from her father lately.
She left her little room and made her way through the shadows of the main attic, bumping against the ping-pong table. Now I'll have a bruise on my hip on top of everything else, she thought.
Next she walked into her old dolls' house, Charles Wallace's rocking horse, the twins' electric trains. "Why must everything happen to me?" she demanded of a large teddy bear.
At the foot of the attic stairs she stood still and listened. Nota sound from Charles Wallace's room on the right. On the left, in her parents' room, not a rustle from her mother sleeping alone in the great double bed. She tiptoed down the hall and into the twins' room, pushing again at her glasses as though they could help her to see better in the dark. Dennys was snoring. Sandy murmured something about baseball and subsided. The twins didn't have any problems. They weren't great students, but they weren't bad ones, either. They were perfectly content with a succession of B's and an occasional A or C. They were strong and fast runners and good at games, and when cracks were made about anybody in the Murry family, they weren't made about Sandy and Dennys.
She left the twins' room and went on downstairs, avoiding the creaking seventh step. Fortinbras had stopped barking. It wasn't the tramp this time, then. Fort would go on barking if anybody was around.
But suppose the tramp does come? Suppose he has a knife? Nobody lives near enough to hear if we screamed and screamed and screamed. Nobody'd care, anyhow.
I'll make myself some cocoa, she decided.That'll cheer me up, and if the roof blows off, at least I won't go off with it.
In the kitchen a light was already on, and Charles Wallace was sitting at the table drinking milk and eating bread and jam. He looked very small and vulnerable sitting there alone in the big old-fashioned kitchen, a blond little boy in faded blue Dr. Dentons, his feet swinging a good six inches above the floor.
"Hi," he said cheerfully. "I've been waiting for you."
From under the table where he was lying at Charles Wallace'sfeet, hoping for a crumb or two, Fortinbras raised his slender dark head in greeting to Meg, and his tail thumped against the floor. Fortinbras had arrived on their doorstep, a half-grown puppy, scrawny and abandoned, one winter night. He was, Meg's father had decided, part Llewellyn setter and part greyhound, and he had a slender, dark beauty that was all his own.
"Why didn't you come up to the attic?" Meg asked her brother, speaking as though he were at least her own age. "I've been scared stiff."
"Too windy up in that attic of yours," the little boy said. "I knew you'd be down. I put some milk on the stove for you. It ought to be hot by now."
How did Charles Wallace always know about her? How could he always tell? He never knewor seemed to carewhat Dennys or Sandy were thinking. It was his mother's mind, and Meg's, that he probed with frightening accuracy.
Was it because people were a little afraid of him that they whispered about the Murrys' youngest child, who was rumored to be not quite bright? "I've heard that clever people often have subnormal children," Meg had once overheard. "The two boys seem to be nice, regular children, but that unattractive girl and the baby boy certainly aren't all there."
It was true that Charles Wallace seldom spoke when anybody was around, so that many people thought he'd never learned to talk. And it was true that he hadn't talked at all until he was almost four. Meg would turn white with fury when people looked at him and clucked, shaking their heads sadly.
"Don't worry about Charles Wallace, Meg," her father hadonce told her. Meg remembered it very clearly because it was shortly before he went away. "There's nothing the matter with his mind. He just does things in his own way and in his own time."
"I don't want him to grow up to be dumb like me," Meg had said.
"Oh, my darling, you're not dumb," her father answered. "You're like Charles Wallace. Your development has to go at its own pace. It just doesn't happen to be the usual pace."
"How do you know?" Meg had demanded. "How do you know I'm not dumb? Isn't it just because you love me?"
"I love you, but that's not what tells me. Mother and I've given you a number of tests, you know."
Yes, that was true. Meg had realized that some of the "games" her parents played with her were tests of some kind, and that there had been more for her and Charles Wallace than for the twins. "IQ tests, you mean?"
"Yes, some of them."
"Is my IQ okay?"
"More than okay."
"What is it?"
"That I'm not going to tell you. But it assures me that both you and Charles Wallace will be able to do pretty much whatever you like when you grow up yourselves. You just wait till Charles Wallace starts to talk. You'll see."
How right he had been about that, though he himself had left before Charles Wallace began to speak, suddenly, with none of the usual baby preliminaries, using entire sentences. How proud he would have been!
"You'd better check the milk," Charles Wallace said to Meg now, his diction clearer and cleaner than that of most five-year-olds. "You know you don't like it when it gets a skin on top."
"You put in more than twice enough milk." Meg peered into the saucepan.
Charles Wallace nodded serenely. "I thought Mother might like some."
"I might like what?" a voice said, and there was their mother standing in the doorway.
"Cocoa," Charles Wallace said. "Would you like a liverwurst-and-cream-cheese sandwich? I'll be happy to make you one."
"That would be lovely," Mrs. Murry said, "but I can make it myself if you're busy."
"No trouble at all." Charles Wallace slid down from his chair and trotted over to the refrigerator, his pajamaed feet padding softly as a kitten's. "How about you, Meg?" he asked. "Sandwich?"
"Yes, please," she said. "But not liverwurst. Do we have any tomatoes?"
Charles Wallace peered into the crisper. "One. All right if I use it on Meg, Mother?"
"To what better use could it be put?" Mrs. Murry smiled. "But not so loud, please, Charles. That is, unless you want the twins downstairs, too."
"Let's be exclusive," Charles Wallace said. "That's my new word for the day. Impressive, isn't it?"
"Prodigious," Mrs. Murry said. "Meg, come let me look at that bruise."
Meg knelt at her mother's feet. The warmth and light ofthe kitchen had relaxed her so that her attic fears were gone. The cocoa steamed fragrantly in the saucepan; geraniums bloomed on the windowsills and there was a bouquet of tiny yellow chrysanthemums in the center of the table. The curtains, red, with a blue-and-green geometrical pattern, were drawn, and seemed to reflect their cheerfulness throughout the room. The furnace purred like a great, sleepy animal; the lights glowed with steady radiance; outside, alone in the dark, the wind still battered against the house, but the angry power that had frightened Meg while she was alone in the attic was subdued by the familiar comfort of the kitchen. Underneath Mrs. Murry's chair Fortinbras let out a contented sigh.
Mrs. Murry gently touched Meg's bruised cheek. Meg looked up at her mother, half in loving admiration, half in sullen resentment. It was not an advantage to have a mother who was a scientist and a beauty as well. Mrs. Murry's flaming red hair, creamy skin, and violet eyes with long dark lashes, seemed even more spectacular in comparison with Meg's outrageous plainness. Meg's hair had been passable as long as she wore it tidily in braids. When she went into high school it was cut, and now she and her mother struggled with putting it up, but one side would come out curly and the other straight, so that she looked even plainer than before.
"You don't know the meaning of moderation, do you, my darling?" Mrs. Murry asked. "A happy medium is something I wonder if you'll ever learn. That's a nasty bruise the Henderson boy gave you. By the way, shortly after you'd gone to bed his mother called up to complain about how badly you'd hurt him.I told her that since he's a year older and at least twenty-five pounds heavier than you are, I thought I was the one who ought to be doing the complaining. But she seemed to think it was all your fault."
"I suppose that depends on how you look at it," Meg said. "Usually, no matter what happens, people think it's my fault, even if I have nothing to do with it at all. But I'm sorry I tried to fight him. It's just been an awful week. And I'm full of bad feeling."
Mrs. Murry stroked Meg's shaggy head. "Do you know why?"
"I hate being an oddball," Meg said. "It's hard on Sandy and Dennys, too. I don't know if they're really like everybody else, or if they're just able to pretend they are. I try to pretend, but it isn't any help."
"You're much too straightforward to be able to pretend to be what you aren't," Mrs. Murry said. "I'm sorry, Meglet. Maybe if Father were here he could help you, but I don't think I can do anything till you've managed to plow through some more time. Then things will be easier for you. But that isn't much help right now, is it?"
"Maybe if I weren't so repulsive-lookingmaybe if I were pretty like you"
"Mother's not a bit pretty; she's beautiful," Charles Wallace announced, slicing liverwurst. "Therefore I bet she was awful at your age."
"How right you are," Mrs. Murry said. "Just give yourself time, Meg."
"Lettuce on your sandwich, Mother?" Charles Wallace asked.
He cut the sandwich into sections, put it on a plate, and set it in front of his mother. "Yours'll be along in just a minute, Meg. I think I'll talk to Mrs Whatsit about you."
"Who's Mrs Whatsit?" Meg asked.
"I think I want to be exclusive about her for a while," Charles Wallace said. "Onion salt?"
"What's Mrs Whatsit stand for?" Mrs. Murry asked.
"That's her name," Charles Wallace answered. "You know the old shingled house back in the woods that the kids won't go near because they say it's haunted? That's where they live."
"Mrs Whatsit and her two friends. I was out with Fortinbras a couple of days agoyou and the twins were at school, Meg. We like to walk in the woods, and suddenly he took off after a squirrel and I took off after him and we ended up by the haunted house, so I met them by accident, as you might say."
"But nobody lives there," Meg said.
"Mrs Whatsit and her friends do. They're very enjoyable."
"Why didn't you tell me about it before?" Mrs. Murry asked. "And you know you're not supposed to go off our property without permission, Charles."
"I know," Charles said. "That's one reason I didn't tell you. I just rushed off after Fortinbras without thinking. And then I decided, well, I'd better save them for an emergency, anyhow."
A fresh gust of wind took the house and shook it, and suddenly the rain began to lash against the windows.
"I don't think I like this wind," Meg said nervously.
"We'll lose some shingles off the roof, that's certain," Mrs. Murry said. "But this house has stood for almost two hundred years and I think it will last a little longer, Meg. There's been many a high wind up on this hill."
"But this is a hurricane!" Meg wailed. "The radio kept saying it was a hurricane!"
"It's October," Mrs. Murry told her. "There've been storms in October before."
As Charles Wallace gave Meg her sandwich Fortinbras came out from under the table. He gave a long, low growl, and they could see the dark fur slowly rising on his back. Meg felt her own skin prickle.
"What's wrong?" she asked anxiously.
Fortinbras stared at the door that opened into Mrs. Murry's laboratory, which was in the old stone dairy right off the kitchen. Beyond the lab a pantry led outdoors, though Mrs. Murry had done her best to train the family to come into the house through the garage door or the front door and not through her lab. But it was the lab door and not the garage door toward which Fortinbras was growling.
"You didn't leave any nasty-smelling chemicals cooking over a Bunsen burner, did you, Mother?" Charles Wallace asked.
Mrs. Murry stood up. "No. But I think I'd better go see what's upsetting Fort, anyhow."
"It's the tramp, I'm sure it's the tramp," Meg said nervously.
"What tramp?" Charles Wallace asked.
"They were saying at the post office this afternoon that a tramp stole all Mrs. Buncombe's sheets."
"We'd better sit on the pillowcases, then," Mrs. Murry said lightly. "I don't think even a tramp would be out on a night like this, Meg."
"But that's probably why he is out," Meg wailed, "trying to find a place not to be out."
"In which case I'll offer him the barn till morning." Mrs. Murry went briskly to the door.
"I'll go with you." Meg's voice was shrill.
"No, Meg, you stay with Charles and eat your sandwich."
"Eat!" Meg exclaimed as Mrs. Murry went out through the lab. "How does she expect me to eat?"
"Mother can take care of herself," Charles said. "Physically, that is." But he sat in his father's chair at the table and his legs kicked at the rungs; and Charles Wallace, unlike most small children, had the ability to sit still.
After a few moments that seemed like forever to Meg, Mrs. Murry came back in, holding the door open forwas it the tramp? It seemed small for Meg's idea of a tramp. The age or sex was impossible to tell, for it was completely bundled up in clothes. Several scarves of assorted colors were tied about the head, and a man's felt hat perched atop. A shocking-pink stole was knotted about a rough overcoat, and black rubber boots covered the feet.
"Mrs Whatsit," Charles said suspiciously, "what are you doing here? And at this time of night, too?"
"Now, don't you be worried, my honey." A voice emerged fromamong turned-up coat collar, stole, scarves, and hat, a voice like an unoiled gate, but somehow not unpleasant.
"MrsuhWhatsitsays she lost her way," Mrs. Murry said. "Would you care for some hot chocolate, Mrs Whatsit?"
"Charmed, I'm sure," Mrs Whatsit answered, taking off the hat and the stole. "It isn't so much that I lost my way as that I got blown off course. And when I realized that I was at little Charles Wallace's house I thought I'd just come in and rest a bit before proceeding on my way."
"How did you know this was Charles Wallace's house?" Meg asked.
"By the smell." Mrs Whatsit untied a blue-and-green paisley scarf, a red-and-yellow flowered print, a gold Liberty print, a red-and-black bandanna. Under all this a sparse quantity of grayish hair was tied in a small but tidy knot on top of her head. Her eyes were bright, her nose a round, soft blob, her mouth puckered like an autumn apple. "My, but it's lovely and warm in here," she said.
"Do sit down." Mrs. Murry indicated a chair. "Would you like a sandwich, Mrs Whatsit? I've had liverwurst and cream cheese; Charles has had bread and jam; and Meg, lettuce and tomato."
"Now, let me see," Mrs Whatsit pondered. "I'm passionately fond of Russian caviar."
"You peeked!" Charles cried indignantly. "We're saving that for Mother's birthday and you can't have any!"
Mrs Whatsit gave a deep and pathetic sigh.
"No," Charles said. "Now, you mustn't give in to her, Mother, or I shall be very angry. How about tuna-fish salad?"
"All right," Mrs Whatsit said meekly.
"I'll fix it," Meg offered, going to the pantry for a can of tuna fish.
For crying out loud, she thought,this old woman comes barging in on us in the middle of the night and Mother takes it as though there weren't anything peculiar about it at all. I'll bet she is the tramp. I'll bet she did steal those sheets. And she's certainly no one Charles Wallace ought to be friends with, especially when he won't even talk to ordinary people.
"I've only been in the neighborhood a short time," Mrs Whatsit was saying as Meg switched off the pantry light and came back into the kitchen with the tuna fish, "and I didn't think I was going to like the neighbors at all until dear little Charles came over with his dog."
"Mrs Whatsit," Charles Wallace demanded severely, "why did you take Mrs. Buncombe's sheets?"
"Well, I needed them, Charles dear."
"You must return them at once."
"But Charles, dear, I can't. I've used them."
"It was very wrong of you," Charles Wallace scolded. "If you needed sheets that badly, you should have asked me."
Mrs Whatsit shook her head and clucked. "You can't spare any sheets. Mrs. Buncombe can."
Meg cut up some celery and mixed it in with the tuna. After a moment's hesitation she opened the refrigerator door and brought out ajar of little sweet pickles.Though why I'm doing it for her I don't know, she thought, as she cut them up.I don't trust her one bit.
"Tell your sister I'm all right," Mrs Whatsit said to Charles. "Tell her my intentions are good."
"The road to hell is paved with good intentions," Charles intoned.
"My, but isn't he cunning." Mrs Whatsit beamed at him fondly. "It's lucky he has someone to understand him."
"But I'm afraid he doesn't," Mrs. Murry said. "None of us is quite up to Charles."
"But at least you aren't trying to squash him down." Mrs Whatsit nodded her head vigorously. "You're letting him be himself."
"Here's your sandwich," Meg said, bringing it to Mrs Whatsit.
"Do you mind if I take off my boots before I eat?" Mrs Whatsit asked, picking up the sandwich nevertheless. "Listen." She moved her feet up and down in her boots, and they could hear water squelching. "My toes are ever so damp. The trouble is that these boots are a mite too tight for me, and I never can take them off by myself."
"I'll help you," Charles offered.
"Not you. You're not strong enough."
"I'll help." Mrs. Murry squatted at Mrs Whatsit's feet, yanking on one slick boot. When the boot came off, it came suddenly. Mrs. Murry sat down with a thump. Mrs Whatsit went tumbling backward with the chair onto the floor, sandwich held high in one old claw. Water poured out of the boot and ran over the floor and the big braided rug.
"Oh, dearie me," Mrs Whatsit said, lying on her back in theoverturned chair, her feet in the air, one in a red-and-white striped sock, the other still booted.
Mrs. Murry got to her feet. "Are you all right, Mrs Whatsit?"
"If you have some liniment I'll put it on my dignity," Mrs Whatsit said, still supine. "I think it's sprained. A little oil of cloves mixed well with garlic is rather good." And she took a large bite of sandwich.
"Do please get up," Charles said. "I don't like to see you lying there that way. You're carrying things too far."
"Have you ever tried to get to your feet with a sprained dignity?" But Mrs Whatsit scrambled up, righted the chair, and then sat back down on the floor, the booted foot stuck out in front of her, and took another bite. She moved with great agility for such an old woman. At least Meg was reasonably sure that she was an old woman, and a very old woman at that.
Mrs Whatsit, her mouth full, ordered Mrs. Murry, "Now pull while I'm already down."
Quite calmly, as though this old woman and her boots were nothing out of the ordinary, Mrs. Murry pulled until the second boot relinquished the foot. This foot was covered with a blue-and-gray Argyle sock, and Mrs Whatsit sat there, wriggling her toes, contentedly finishing her sandwich before scrambling to her feet. "Ah," she said, "that's ever so much better," and took both boots and shook them out over the sink. "My stomach is full and I'm warm inside and out and it's time I went home."
"Don't you think you'd better stay till morning?" Mrs. Murry asked.
"Oh, thank you, dearie, but there's so much to do I just can't waste time sitting around frivoling."
"It's much too wild a night to travel in."
"Wild nights are my glory," Mrs Whatsit said. "I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course."
"Well, at least till your socks are dry"
"Wet socks don't bother me. I just didn't like the water squishing around in my boots. Now, don't worry about me, lamb." ("Lamb" was not a word one would ordinarily think of calling Mrs. Murry.) "I shall just sit down for a moment and pop on my boots and then I'll be on my way. Speaking of ways, pet, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract."
Mrs. Murry went very white and with one hand reached backward and clutched at a chair for support. Her voice trembled. "What did you say?"
Mrs Whatsit tugged at her second boot. "I said," she grunted, shoving her foot down in, "that there is"shove"such a thing"shove"as a tesseract." Her foot went down into the boot, and grabbing shawls, scarves, and hat, she hustled out the door. Mrs. Murry stayed very still, making no move to help the old woman. As the door opened, Fortinbras streaked in, panting, wet and shiny as a seal. He looked at Mrs. Murry and whined.
The door slammed.
"Mother, what's the matter!" Meg cried. "What did she say? What is it?"
"The tesseract" Mrs. Murry whispered. "What did she mean? How could she have known?"
A WRINKLE IN TIME. Text copyright © 1962 by Crosswicks, Ltd. Introduction copyright © 2012 by Katherine Paterson. Afterword copyright © 2012 by Charlotte Jones.
Reading Group Guide
· John F. Kennedy was the president of the United States.
· The manned space program was in its infancy (John Glenn orbited the earth four times); the first commercially sponsored communication satellite, Telstar, was launched; and the unmanned space probe,, Mariner II, flew past Venus.
· James D. Watson, Maurice H. F. Wilkins, and Francis H. Crick won the Nobel Prize for determining the structure of DNA.
· The Cuban Missile Crisis brought the U.S. and Russia to the brink of war.
· James Meredith was escorted by U.S. marshals into the University of Mississippi as he registered for classes.
· To Kill a Mockingbird and The Manchurian Candidate were playing in movie theaters. The Yankees won the World Series again, and a first-class postage stamp was $.04.
These are the scientific, political, and social landscapes that existed when A Wrinkle in Time was first read by young people in America. Many things have changed since then, but the book remains a favorite of students and teachers alike, because, one hand, it is a work of science fiction and fantasy that transcends the everyday to illuminate large themes and concerns, and on the other, it deals with the small and large realities of young people's lives: relationships among friends and family, courage, conformity, and growing up. On top of that, it's a great adventure story with characters kids care about.
A Wrinkle in Time is, in short, a classic, a part of young people's heritage and culture.
In this guide, we've provided questions for contemplation and discussion, activities for exploration, and teaching connections to science, social studies, history, and literature.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS AND ACTIVITIES
1. The opening sentence of Edward George Bulwer-Lytton's novel Paul Clifford, published in 1830,
begins with the phrase: "It was a dark and stormy night…." Often considered the worst opening line in literature, writers, including the beagle Snoopy, have attempted in jest to begin their stories with the same line. When Madeleine L'Engle's children would ask her to tell a story, she would always begin with "It was a dark and stormy night…." So it was no surprise that she would use it to begin her novel and send you on the journey to A Wrinkle in Time.
Now it's your turn to take a stab at it. Write a story of your own that begins with "It was a dark and stormy night…." See who in your class can write the best of the worst. And have fun doing it!
The fun doesn't have to stop there. Since 1982, the English department at San Jose State
University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst novel. Anyone can enter, so why not give it a chance? You can get all the information at: http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/.
2. Meg and Charles Wallace meet Calvin O'Keefe by chance on their way to see Mrs Whatsit. Calvin says: "Maybe we weren't meant to meet before this, I mean I knew who you were in school and everything, but I didn't know you."
Calvin believes that they were fated to meet this way. What about you? Do you believe in fate?
Do you have a friend about whom you feel this way—someone you feel is just supposed to be in your life? Do people meet for the first time because they are fated to? Discuss the development of
Meg's and Calvin's fate throughout A Wrinkle in Time.
3. The relationship between Meg and Charles Wallace is a very special one. He can sense what she
Is feeling, and she knows that whatever her faults are, at least he loves her dearly. It was Meg's love for her brother that rescued him from the powers of IT. Is this like sibling relationships in other books you've read? What kind of relationships do you have with your siblings?
4. Meg and her mother discuss Charles Wallace:
Meg: "Charles Wallace understand more than the rest of us, doesn't he?"
Mrs. Murry: "Yes…I suppose because he's—well, because he's different, Meg….Charles Wallace is what he is. Different. New … Charles Wallace's difference isn't physical. It's in his essence."
What does their mother mean that his essence is different? What are the characteristics that make him different? Everyone has their own uniqueness. Do you and your friends see this as a negative characteristic or a positive one? Every class has a kid like Charles Wallace. How is he/she treated by the others? Is there a little bit of Charles in you?
5. The people who live in Meg's town have a dim view of her and Charles Wallace. "I've heard that clever people of often have subnormal children," Meg had once overhead. "The two boys seem to be nice, regular children, but that unattractive girl and the baby boy certainly aren't all there."
Were these observations justified? Is it right for people to judge others that way? How did their perceptions of Meg affect the way she felt and acted? How did it affect Charles Wallace? How are you affected by others' perceptions of you?
6. It [her father's hair] was pushed back from his shoulders, so that he looked like someone from another century or a shipwrecked sailor.
She [Meg] had been so certain that the moment she found her father everything would be all right…all the problems would be taken out of her hands…. Instead…Her adored father was bearded and thin and white and not omnipotent after all.
Why is Meg disappointed? Were her expectations about her father reasonable? What has she realized about him?
We all put our parents on pedestals when we are young. When did you realize that your parents were "just human?" How did this realization change your relationship with them? How did it change your feelings?
7. Mrs Who has difficulty expressing herself, so she uses quotations from classical literature and expressions in foreign languages to articulate her views. For example, she quotes the Roman philosopher Seneca:
Ab honesto virum bonum nihil deterret." Translated from Latin, it means, "Nothing deters a good man from doing what is honorable."
Think about famous phrases that you know from film, music, or literature. Translate them into foreign languages. This way, you can express yourself and confound others. The best way to translate the expression is to find foreign language speakers, because expressions are often idiomatic, and lose their flavor when translated word for word. Or you can try using Web sites that will translate English into other languages. One is http://babelfish.altavista.com/tr. It can translate words and phrases form English into almost any language and vice versa.
Make a chart, so you will have easy reference to the expressions.
Have fun and be multilingual.
8. You can follow Mrs Who's model by creating conversations using quotations. Work with a partner to create a dialogue, or work with several friends and write a whole scene. Pick a subject. Then go to Barlett's Familiar Quotations or to Web pages to find famous quotations on your theme. Some Web sites that will be useful are:
You'll find hundreds of quotes—from speakers as diverse as Homer, Seneca, Nietzsche, Simon
Cowell, and Homer Simpson. Virtually every topic is covered.
Put together your dialogue or scene, and perform it for your class.
9. When people band together to accomplish a specific goal, it is helpful for them to bring different talents and abilities. This is surely the case with Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin. Mrs Whatsit points out their differences as she gives each a little talisman:
"Calvin, your great gift is your ability to communicate, to communicate with all kinds of people….So for you, I will strengthen it. Meg, I give you your faults.…I think you'll find they come in very handy on Camazotz.…Charles Wallace, I can only give you the resilience of your childhood."
How do their differences strengthen the "whole?" Could two of them have accomplished what the three of them did? Why or why not? Could any one of them have done it alone? In your own experiences, how have you worked with others to reach a common goal?
10. "You three children will be on your own. We will be near you; we will be watching you. But you will not be able to see us or to ask us for help, and we will not be able to come to you."
Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who, and Mrs Which set the three children off on a quest of dangerous proportions. Why did they send them off alone? Wouldn't it have been better for them to accompany the children and be part of the rescue? What then are the roles that Mrs Whatsit, Mrs
Who, and Mrs Which play in the novel?
11. In front of all the houses children were playing….Meg felt vaguely that something was wrong with their play…."Look!" Charles Wallace said suddenly. They're skipping and bouncing in rhythm! Everyone's doing it at exactly the same moment."
A Camazotz mother said, "They're all perfectly trained."
All up and down the block, heads nodded in agreement.
Compare the behavior of the children of Camzotz with that of children from Meg's hometown.
Which way of acting do you think Meg's principal would prefer? Why does the principal want Meg to conform to the other children in the school? Madeleine L'Engle is making a point by creating parallels. What do you think the author's point of view is on this subject? How else does she tell you this?
12. Mrs Whatsit tells the children, "…All through the universe [the Dark Thing is] being fought, all through the cosmos…and maybe it won't seem strange that some of our very best fighters have come right from your very own planet…."
Who are these fighters? What are the "weapons" these fighters have used? Are they violent?
What characteristics do they have in common? Who from historical times would you add to the list of enemies of the Dark Thing? Make a list of contemporary people who exhibit the same traits as those mentioned in the book. How have they been fighting the Dark Thing?
13. Why does Meg come to the realization that she is the only one who can save Charles Wallace?
Compare this to other stories you know from literature or film where the main character has to complete the quest alone.
14. Madeleine L'Engle built aspects of A Wrinkle in Time on science, mythology, and religion. For example, the hymn intoned by the creatures on the planet Uriel. Find references in the novel that illustrate these connections.
15. A Wrinkle in Time straddles two literary genres. The quest that Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin are on, for example, links the novel to fantasy. Tessering links it to science fiction. Find other aspects of the novel that connect it to one or the other of these forms. Compare A Wrinkle in
Time to other books, films, and televisions shows that fall into one or the other category. For fantasy, consider The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. For science fiction, think about Star
Trek and Star Wars. Talk about how it stands up in comparison.
16. Writers create out of their own experiences. During the time Madeleine L'Engle was writing A
Wrinkle in Time, the world was a very unsettled place. The United States and the Soviet Union were embroiled in a Cold War where democracy and individual freedom of expression were threatened by totalitarianism and collectivism. Fear pervaded everyone's thinking. This was the backdrop that influenced the writing of the book. Discuss how that atmosphere is expressed in the novel. What elements of political ideology are reflected in how Camazotz is controlled by IT?
When the Cold War ended in the 1990s, did its dangers end with it? If Madeleine L'Engle were writing the book today, what political realities would be the major influences on its writing?
17. Mrs Whatsit's explanation of tessering is similar to the concept of wormholes, the favored method of travel in many science fiction movies and literature. Putting it simply, traveling through a wormhole provides a quick way to travel the astronomical distances of space without the passage of time. Is this possible according to modern physics? What would Einstein think of tessering? Can tessering be explained by Einstein's special theory of relativity? Do some research.
First, look into time travel and Einstein's theory to see if it's theoretically possible. Then look into wormholes. Do they have any scientific basis, or is it what Mrs Who might say in quoting William Shakespeare, "Such stuff that dreams are made on?" Ask your friends what they think. Take a poll and survey the school.
Web sites that will be useful to you are:
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/time http://science.howstuffworks.com/relativity.htm http://www.daviddarling.info/encyclopedia/W/wormhole.html
18. On the summit of a tall mountain, Mrs Whatsit shows the children a shadow high above the clouds which encircles the mountain.
It was a shadow, nothing but a shadow. It was not even as tangible as a cloud.…
What could there be about a shadow that was so terrible that she [Meg] knew there had never been before or would be again anything that would chill her with a fear that was beyond shuttering, beyond crying or screaming, beyond the possibility of comfort?
What is that shadow, that Dark Thing? In the context of the story, how does the Dark
Thing manifest itself? Will its effect on Earth be the same as it is on Camazotz, or will it appear as another kind of evil?
You can look at the Dark Thing as a metaphor. There have been evils throughout history that have plagued mankind. What are some examples of man's inhumanity to man? Look at today's newspaper. What are the modern "shadows" that threaten society and individuality?
19. Mrs Whatsit compares human lives to that of a sonnet. The sonnet has strict rules. Fourteen lines of iambic pentameter, but with that form, the poet can say whatever he wants to. "You're given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you."
This statement of free will is at the core of the novel. Discuss the notion of free will. How free are we to make choices for our own lives? What restrictions do we face: physical, parental, societal,
legal, and religious? Is there any society in which freedom of personal choice is absolute?
20. The quest to save Meg's father and subsequently Charles Wallace was a success, but the Dark
Thing still looms heavily over Earth. What will happen next? Will the Dark Thing ever be defeated? Try your hand in writing a sequel. Then read the books that complete the Time
Quintet by Madeleine L'Engle:
A Wind in the Door
A Swiftly Tilting Planet
An Acceptable Time