Celebrating a Wrinkle

A couple of weeks ago Roger let me out of the office to attend the big 50th anniversary event for A Wrinkle in Time in NYC. I was going to post about this along with a piece on the new book design, but time's moving on, so watch for a separate interview with Molly Leach about the book design next week.

Lots of bloggers have written about this event already, but it was truly a privilege to be there. Betsy Bird acted as M.C. and moderator, smoothing out what could have been some serious wrinkles given the time constraints and the varied cast of speakers:

  • One of Madeleine L'Engle's granddaughters

  • A panel discussion with Lois Lowry, Katherine Paterson, Rebecca Stead, and R. L. Stine

  • Jane Curtin reading from the book

  • A high school's dramatic reading of a different passage from the book

  • Leonard Marcus reading from HIS upcoming biography of L'Engle

So, wow!

Multimedia was used as an interstitial element before and between all of the above, starting with this to-die-for "90-second-Newbery" from James Kennedy:

The sold-out house, at least 1/3 full of kids, loved this! They also showed Macmillan's new book trailer and a slideshow with audio from interviews with L'Engle and photos taken throughout her life.

It was hard to tell how many people in the audience were there for Wrinkle and how many were there to get books signed by members of the panel. R. L. Stine admitted that he only read the book a week ago, and none of the panelists really knew L'Engle, though Paterson  met her a few times and felt intimidated. But Stead is and was a die-hard fan of the book, as anyone who has read When You Reach Me might have guessed. What I found most interesting about the panel discussion was the way all of them managed to praise the book's emotional appeal to kids while hinting that it might not stand up to in-depth critical appraisal. I found this refreshing, and it's a good lesson for all of us. Nothing will ever sway my devotion to Meg and her family, but it has taken me almost 20 years to get over the feeling of let-down when I re-read this book as adult and found it lacking in a literary sense.

Happily, I've gained perspective as I age and now have no qualms about celebrating a book that has profoundly affected so many children, including those us who now wear wrinkles of our own.

Lolly Robinson

Lolly Robinson is a freelance designer and consultant with degrees in studio art and children’s literature. She is the former creative director for The Horn Book, Inc., and has taught children’s literature at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. She has served on the Caldecott and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committees and blogged for Calling Caldecott and Lolly's Classroom on this site.


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Maia Cheli-Colando

Not only L'Engle's writing, but her theology evolved over time. While I do love Wrinkle (or more accurately, Meg), I intersected with L'Engle personally -- as an awestruck me received A Ring of Endless Light from her own hands when I was in elementary school -- in a different space than she was in with Wrinkle. Her style of course fluctuated over her long writing life - consider A Severed Wasp versus some of the southern romances, or even The Young Unicorns versus Meet the Austins. And this is part of what I find most endearing - we can see the evolution of a intriguing, compassionate and passionate person; she shared that with us. I think for me it helped somewhat to be Episcopalian in my youth. Over the course of my growing up, I continued to cross paths with real-life elements/people from her stories... while we never met again, she was a bit of a guardian angel, her effects and our synchronicities shifting my life at odd and important times. When she died, it was the closest thing to losing a family member as losing someone who doesn't know *your* own name can be. But the integrity of her characters have left footprints all over my soul; which I am pleased to note when I come across them again.

Posted : Feb 21, 2012 06:35

Lolly Robinson

Maia, you hit it exactly. I wonder how many others felt she was a kind of guardian angel. Me, for one, but I wouldn't have been able to articulate it that way until I read what you wrote.

Posted : Feb 21, 2012 06:35

Next Time, I’m Tessering to New York « Annie Cardi

[...] have no fear! You can read all about the evening’s events at Publisher’s Weekly and The Horn Book. It sounds like it was a truly special and exciting event. One moment I liked, from PW: [...]

Posted : Feb 21, 2012 06:05



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