madeleine l'engle

The author of one of the greatest children's books of all time, and an early writing hero of mine, Madeleine L'Engle, died yesterday at the age of 88.

I can't even express how much A Wrinkle In Time meant to me as a young reader. Along with Laura Ingalls Wilder and S. E. Hinton, L'Engle wrote the books that made me want to write.

Before my writing heroes would become John Steinbeck, George Orwell and Charles Dickens, those three authors told me who I was, although I didn't know it yet. (When I learned S. E. Hinton was female, I could have died from happiness.)

I read A Wrinkle In Time - over and over and over - in 6th grade, yet I remember it vividly to this day. And that's one reason I wanted to write for young people. Books can mean so much to us in those years, the way music can when we are teenagers.

A Wrinkle In Time won the John Newbery Award in 1963; it is still selling briskly, in its 67th printing. It is also one of the most banned children's book, another testament to L'Engle's vision and the book's power.

Of her writing, L'Engle said she sometimes felt as if she were taking dictation from her subconscious.

This woman gave me something indelible. I feel very sad at her passing.

Madeleine L'Engle's New York Times obituary here.


teflonjedi said...

That's sad news. A Swiftly Tilting Planet was another favourite of mine, in my childhood.

laura k said...

That's another really good book.

A good earlier book of hers is "A Ring of Endless Light," which deals with a teenage girl's first experience with death.

RossK said...

I don't think I can tell my youngest for a bit.

We just finished reading WinT.


laura k said...

Oh no!

Well, there's no reason to tell her (or him), really. She can just enjoy the book - L'Engle's immortality.

James Redekop said...

Here's a brief look at the geometry behind the tesseract in the context of A Wrinkle In Time.

I first read this book in my sixth grade class with Miss Finch, the best public school teacher I ever had -- and the one who spotted and recognized my dyslexia, and paved the way for me to work around it.

Amy said...

Hi, L-girl. This is Amy from JoS. Since the baseball news is so unbearable, I was scanning through your WMTC blog and found this. Just wanted you to know that Wrinkle in Time was also one of my absolute favorites as a child, along with The Phantom Tollbooth and Charlotte's Web. Reading those three books to my own daughter was a real thrill for me---to realize as an adult how well written and insightful each book was and to get to share that with my child. Pure joy!

laura k said...

Hi Amy! Nice to see you here. Charlotte's Web is one of my all-time favourite books, period. I've re-read it several times as an adult. I adore it.

Thanks for stopping by! See you soon in Joy Nation.

Amy said...

I read Charlotte's Web the first time when I was 8. It was the first book that ever made me cry. I made a point of memorizing the last line as an 8 year old so that I would always remember the book and its impact. "Charlotte was both."

Those books made me want to be a writer, and I always dreamed I would be. But somehow I got sidetracked with law and have only written rather boring articles on legal issues.

OK, back to work. I am glad there is no game tonight. It will give me a change to think and read about something besides the Sox.

laura k said...

Amy, I have those final lines hanging near my desk. :)

I'm a refugee from law school myself. That's what I was "supposed to" do, but didn't.