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Going back in time: The graphic novel version of A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'EngleThe best stories really stick with you. And since I remembered really liking A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle as a child, I decided to read Hope Larson’s graphic novel version to see how the story was adapted.

I’d been thinking that I barely remembered this book and reading the jacket flap didn’t help…but a few pages in, the familiar story began to resonate with me — Meg Murray feeling like a misfit; Charles Wallace, her all-too-knowing brother who the neighbors think is an idiot; the twin brothers that seem to fit in effortlessly; and her parents who are so intelligent and full of grace…but in a way powerless since their children have to put the family back together. And it all came back to me: how I loved that Meg was as awkward as I felt and yet still the heroine of the book, and the hope in her parents’ promises that she’d grow up to be okay. She also gets the guy and not in some superficial way: Calvin, a jock who seems out of reach, is actually a nice kid who connects with Meg because he understands something about overcoming obstacles.

I also remembered how I got lost in the talk of tesseracts and time travel and hoped that this time around it’d have more meaning for me. When I was younger, the most unbelievable part of the story for me was Meg’s triumph over her own angst. Traveling through time wasn’t nearly as exciting as a smart girl with glasses who saves the day.

The planet Camazotz, where Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin travel to rescue Mr. Murray, is a place where people are stifled and under constant threat in a society based on sameness and eliminating differences (because differences cause problems). The very issue that Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin face on Earth (being somehow different from family and/or peers) is supposedly done away with on Camazotz and it is important for Meg to see that this lack of differences is not at all comforting but very sinister.


So how does the story work in graphic novel form? The panels are in black, white, and light blue: the ones that depict the present are bold, while panels showing the past are slightly faded. I don’t know if all readers will notice this; what my teenage niece noticed was that the book was not in full color. For my part, I had read the book in grade school and in my imagination Calvin was much more handsome than his graphic novel equivalent.

This is an unusual story and the writer does not stick to uniform panels. For example when they visit Camazotz and see the girls all bouncing their balls in the same exact way, the artist uses rectangular strips of different thickness but then returns to squares and rectangles on the next page. Just as the characters in the story are not bound by time and space, the illustrator does not stick to uniform panels.

Towards the end when I couldn’t distinguish between Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Whatsit. An illustrated list of characters would have been useful, but overall, it was structured very well.

These are small quibbles with the book because I enjoyed reading it and admire the challenge it must have been to transfer the novel to this form.

Jada Bradley About Jada Bradley

Jada Bradley applies her book publishing background to her work as a freelance writer/ editor and ELL teacher in the Washington, D.C. area.

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