Tag: a wrinkle in time

Some Sort of Change

Maybe I felt that between starting home school, planning art lessons for my daughter’s co-op, cleaning up after a mobile baby, and editing essays, I just didn’t have enough to do during nap-time. Maybe I breathed in the fall air a little too deeply and felt that I, like the leaves, trees and sky, needed to make some sort of change.

The Time Quartet | Little Book, Big Story

But whatever it was that inspired the change, I made it, and I’m glad I did: on Saturday, I enlisted the help of my husband and we sat on the couch, side by side, with cups of cold green tea between us, and we reworked this site completely, giving a lot of thought to what might make it easier for you to read through my existing posts and rummage through the archives when you’re looking for a specific title.

Not only that, but I’ve spent the last week photographing books for these posts so I can do away with the tiny thumbnails once and for all.  (I did this on the front porch, where the light is best and the background clean, but hovering over a stack of books with a camera is a bit awkward when the neighbors walk by.)

The most exciting change (I think) is this: if you take a minute to enter your email address—which I promise not to share—you can now subscribe to this blog via email:


Did you do it? Hooray! You shall henceforth find my newest posts waiting for you in your inbox.

There will be hiccups while I update photos and re-format posts and such, so please bear with me. If it’s any consolation, there are other changes in the queue that I think you’ll like, but I don’t want to give anything away quite yet. I am taking requests, though: is there anything that you would like to see,  anything that might make it easier for you to navigate Little Book, Big Story?

A Wrinkle in Time (and more!) | Madeleine L’Engle

In the past, I’ve been pretty bossy about reading series in their entirety. I came down pretty hard on you about The Chronicles of Narnia (all of them), Anne of Green Gables and the Little House books, but you’ll be relieved to know that I’m not sending you away from this post with your reading list eight or nine titles longer than it was when you arrived.

But then, this is no ordinary series. In fact, it’s less of a series of sequential books than it is a loosely gathered group of stories that dip into the same family of characters, overlap occasionally and share a few common themes. In that way, it’s a bit like The Chronicles of Narnia, but the stories diverge even further from each other than the Narnian chronicles, to the point that I don’t think there’s even an official title for the entire group—at least, I couldn’t find anything snappier than “Books about the Murry-O’Keefes”—so I suppose I’d better begin by outlining to which books, specifically, I am referring.

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle | Little Book, Big Story

The Newbery-award-winning classic, A Wrinkle in Time, starts us off with an unforgettable bang. The next two books, A Wind in the Door and A Swiftly Tilting Planet, follow the original protagonists, Meg and Charles Wallace Murry, on further adventures while the fourth book, Many Waters, centers around a more peripheral pair of characters (and is, for the record, one of my favorites in the series, though you should definitely pre-read it before handing it to your child. Some of the themes are a bit mature, though not inappropriately so). It’s different in tone, topic and tactic than the first three.

Thus ends what was once officially considered “The Time Quartet,” though the quartet has recently been expanded to a quintet, with the addition of An Acceptable Time. I get why the books were rearranged, but—I’ll be honest—I don’t like it. An Acceptable Time does deal with time travel, like the original quartet, but chronologically,  An Acceptable Time happens last in the series. It was also the last of the books to be written, so it differs in tone and content from the others. Also (and now we come to the truth), I just didn’t care for it all that much.

The next two books—The Arm of the Starfish and Dragons in the Water—leave the realm of science fiction behind (though they tip the old hat to it every now and then), and deal more with what L’Engle refers to as Chronos—ordinary, linear time. They follow Meg and Calvin’s daughter, Polly O’Keefe, through an international incident and a murder mystery, before moving on to A House Like a Lotus, which is more of a coming-of-age story (this one is geared more toward older teens, by the way, so it contains more mature content than Many Waters).

These last three are less recognized, probably because they depart from the fantastic themes of the first four books, but if you’ve fallen for the Murry-O’Keefe clan and/or can’t bear to leave an invented world unexplored (like me), they are still worth reading.

So, why should you read any or all of these books?

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle | Little Book, Big Story

To be honest, I’m suffering from L’Engle Fatigue right now—a rare condition that occurs when one reads fourteen consecutive books by the same author and, due to the presence of recurring themes and characters, has trouble remembering which book is which or what exactly I set out to tell you about them. But I’m pretty sure my thesis here is Read the Time Quartet.

You can take or leave all of the rest of the books, but you must read The Time Quartet. Madeleine L’Engle’s vision for the universe reminds me, in part, of that of C.S. Lewis’s Science Fiction Trilogy, in that it contains life in the unlikeliest places. She was able to challenge the way we imagine things—cherubim or unicorns, for instance—and recast those things in a serious, believable way, while involving them with clearly flawed but lovable characters who grow in leaps and bounds from book to book.

A Wrinkle in Time is a classic for good reason, and I would be remiss if I didn’t strongly urge you to read at least that. But if you find yourself smitten with the Murry family and with L’Engle’s unique exploration of the worlds around us (I bet you will), then read on, at least to the end of the quartet. Where you go from there is up to you.


The Time Quartet
Madeliene L’Engle (1962, 1973, 1978, 1983)

Featured Author: Madeleine L’Engle

In response to the question, “What is today?”, please select one of the following:

a) your birthday

b) Daylight Savings

c) the first anniversary of Little Book, Big Story

If you selected a), happy birthday! I owe you a cupcake. If you selected b), yikes. Rough week, then?

But if you selected c), well done! Let the lights flash and  the bells ring and the announcer crow, “We have a winner!”

For one whole year, I’ve been writing book reviews, and to celebrate, I thought I’d do something a little special and introduce a new category to the blog. (I know. Wild times.) Today, we move off the beaten path of weekly reviews and into the fresh green grass of featured authors.

You see, as I very thoughtfully choose books to review on this blog, I find that there are some authors who have won my heart so thoroughly that I can’t decide which of their books to review first. These are the authors that I love for themselves, not for any single book, and whose name on the spine of an otherwise unknown volume is enough insurance for me to buy a copy without even peeking at the blurb on the back of the book. Introducing you to them is my way of saying, “Yes, we’ll get to the specific titles. But for now, just go get one of their books and start reading.”

To kick things off, we can’t start with just anyone. We’ll begin with the one author who almost had a Rosenburg daughter named in her honor (yes, I love this author that much): Madeleine L’Engle.


L'Engle - PortraitI love our house. It is quirky and dated, with a bright yellow kitchen in which people congregate and a laundry room door that opens with a skeleton key. When we bought it, we talked about how well the house would suit us when we grew old and we have visions of planting fruit trees and watching them grow from saplings to established, consistent companions.

Despite my love for this place, though, there is another house in my heart—a farmhouse with drafty attic bedrooms and a vine-covered wraparound porch. That house has a bright yellow kitchen in which people congregate, but that kitchen looks out over a wooded hillside and perhaps a mountain peak or two. Old-fashioned lamps sit in the windows of that house and cast pools of light on the slumbering kitchen garden and fruit trees too old for us (or our grandparents) to have known them as saplings.

I have loved that house for years. The house and the lands around it seemed so settled in my imagination that it was with a start that I realized, upon rereading A Wrinkle in Time, that the house was basically the Murrays’ house, forever endeared to me by that opening scene, where Meg, her mother and Charles Wallace gather in the kitchen for a midnight cup of cocoa. As I read on in Madeleine L’Engle’s works, I realized that it was also partly Crosswicks, the old farmhouse in rural Connecticut that she and her family shared, which just goes to show how vividly L’Engle’s books are imprinted on my memory.

Though best known for A Wrinkle in Time and the four subsequent books about the Murray family, L’Engle has written over sixty books of nonfiction, poetry and fiction (for children and adults). I have read and reread over twenty of her books and, of those I have read, I have loved nearly every one.

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle | Little Book, Big Story

Her fiction for children is bright and original, full of characters that you can’t help loving by the end of the book. She tries her hand at many things and usually succeeds: the Time quartet deals with everything from tesseracts to mitochondria, while Meet the Austins paints a beautiful picture of family life. Her essays are quiet and slow-moving, but unforgettable, with Walking on Water taking the cake as my favorite volume of L’Engle’s nonfiction. All four of The Crosswicks Journals follow close behind.

L’Engle is a Christian author, so her works delve into issues like love and Creation in a deep, lasting way. Theologically, I don’t agree with her point for point, but on the central stuff, she’s reliable, and I generally put her books down with the idea that I’ve arrived at a new understanding of how the world fits together. I also tend to play the piano more when I read Madeleine L’Engle (she could describe a sonata beautifully), and wish I understood higher mathematics (she was also incredibly smart).

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle | Little Book, Big Story

I cannot attest to the goodness of every single Madeleine L’Engle book out there—and I’m honestly not that sold on her fiction for adults—but I will leave you with a list of my favorite works for children and grown-ups.

Children

– A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels, A Wind in the DoorA Swiftly Tilting Planet, and Many Waters

– The Austin Family Chronicles, with particular emphasis on Meet the Austins and A Ring of Endless Light, but with the possible exception of The Young Unicorns (I wasn’t crazy about that one, either, and I don’t think you’d miss much if you skipped it)

The Austins | Little Book, Big Story

Adults

Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art

Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, by Madeleine L'Engle | Little Book, Big Story

– The Crosswicks Journals (A Circle of Quiet, The Summer of the Great-Grandmother, The Irrational Season, and A Two-Part Invention)