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.