15 Feb 2012

A Wrinkle in Time

This is our latest Newbery Challenge read-aloud, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, winner of the Newbery Medal in 1963 (a very fine year). It's a gripping tale, and we're all hanging off every word.

I adored this book and its sequels as a child - did you? Have you read it since?

Does anybody know if it is really, as the trailer implies, similar to Harry Potter, The Golden Compass and The Giver, none of which I've actually read? Certainly at number 22 on the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2000 it is quite as controversial as these three books are themselves. It has been banned for containing witches who practice black magic, although in fact the old women in the book are not really witches at all, not even Mrs Which, who is only named that to distinguish her from Mrs Whatsit and Mrs Who. (Well okay - I think she is a traditional black broom-flying witch for a second or two in there somewhere, I remember.) It has been banned for containing crystal balls too, but they're not crystal balls as we know them. Sometimes it is condemned for being overtly Christian in content; at other times for fostering occult practices and for supposedly Satanic overtones.. Goodness - you can't win! Some think it is too Christian; others that it is not Christian enough. L'Engle herself is charged with being too devoutly Christian by some writers, and too liberal by others. (I'm inclined toward the latter view after reading this interview.)

Which brings me back to my question - did you love A Wrinkle in Time as a child? Do you like it now? Do your kids? Do you think it is too Christian or anti-Christian? Is it banned in your home?Does the fact that good triumphs over evil and love wins over hate count for anything? Loyalty, courage, friendship family, and bravery are predominant themes. Siblings even like each other! Does this stand in the book's favour?

Personally, I am not adverse to censoring my daughter's reading matter if I am concerned about her readiness to receive the content, be it because of adult themes or world views contrary to ours that are presented in a confusing way. I am not worried about A Wrinkle in Time. Are you?

A Wrinkle in Time is 50 years old this year. There are 10 million copies in print. It can't be all bad now, can it?

Here's an excerpt.

Come and talk to me. Thoughts anyone?


  1. I read it as a child and I reread it last September. I know a lot of people get upset about 'which-craft' and the crystal ball and other such nonsense, but I don't see it. There is real evil in the world and it looks nothing like the Happy Medium with the viewing ball. It's best to teach children to look out for that and not imaginary things that are just for fun. Just my opinion, but I think that some people can't see the forest through the trees sometimes.

  2. I just read this a few months ago! I really enjoyed it! I never read things like this as a child due to two factors: 1) I just didn't know about all the great, neat literature out there 2) My parents were a little more conservative in their views and tended to steer us away from anything mythical/fantasy etc.

    I guess it would depend on the child and their age in regards to letting them read this...I have some easily scared children and some who could care less. Hmm...for some reason, this had a little different feel to it for me than say The Hobbit or Narnia. Is that weird of me? ;)

  3. Children are way more intelligent than we think. They "get it" that Harry Potter, etc., are STORIES and that's it. They love good, richly told stories with full-blooded characters. When I was growing up Mom might say something like "and if I ever hear that word in OUR house..." and that was quite enough to clarify the situation. I think we are constantly looking for threats instead of encouraging imagination. I don't know of anyone, personally, whose left Christianity, or suddenly decided stuff like what happens in "Wrinkle" is "true" because they read the book--but I do know people who became interested in science.

  4. The "ideas" in Wrinkle are Christian. The "witches" are angels, at least that's how I've always perceived them. That book bothers me not a whit.

    The ideas in the Golden Compass, which I have not read, are explicitly atheistic and anti-God, so we don't read that one.

    The Giver I'm not familiar with.

    We love Harry Potter here, at least dh and I have enjoyed the books. They also contain explicitly Christian ideas, purposefully, just like Wrinkle. Because the magic in them is more traditionally expressed than Wrinkle and because they also contain more frightening elements I have only let my oldest read two of the books, and I have read them to her so we can talk about anything that disturbs her. The Potter books explicitly reject the occult, so that charge does not fit the books.

  5. I've read the lot ~ including bits of The Golden Compass which I didn't like so didn't finish. I wish people would get the whole fantasy thing & worry more about the actual Pagan/Wicca material out there specifically aimed at getting kids involved in it. I like L'Engle for being an *intelligent* Christian writer. She's not so terrified of her faith she won't explore ideas ~ & that'a all they are ~ ideas! She was a musician & a scientist & her interest & understanding filtered through a decidedly [albeit liberal] Christian worldview is strong meat & much preferable to the mush that so often passes for *christian* literature & which makes me decidely cross! Twaddle. Why do Christians think it's ok to feed ourselves twaddle just because it has a *Christian* tag. Give me the real thing, flawed though it may be, any day. Ditto for my kids.

  6. Wow, what a character... I'm commenting after reading the interview and the previous comments. I have it, so I will be reading it for now I'm very very curious.

    I'll let you know if anything bothers my conscience.

    I disagree much with the author on many points in her interview, but that is not indicator for liking or disliking a book, at least not always.

    I read HP book 1, and that I agree with L'Engle, it has nothing underneath... and I'm not overtly impressed with the magic theme, but if Amie read it and enjoyed it, and you and J. too are liking it, maybe I will.

    I'll tell you more.

  7. I LOVED and still LOVE ''A Wrinkle in Time'. It is a fabulous book. As for 'The Giver' - wow! why haven't you read it? I know you won't regret reading that one. The people who blast it miss the entire point.

    Yes, I would give either of these books to my children!

  8. I was very excited to find this book at a recent library sale because I've seen it on so many "must-read" book lists and because I was pretty sure it's coming up in AO before too long. I didn't read it as a kid, but I don't know that it was because it was banned. My hubby reads some HP to the kids, so I don't imagine I'll have issues with this book. :)

  9. I loved, loved, loved those books as a child! Read and reread them I don't know how many times. Yes, I definitely want my children to read them. However, I'm going to be cautious about them reading other L'Engle books. The romance goes too far in some of them.

  10. The Potter books explicitly reject the occult, so that charge does not fit the books.

    I cant agree with this. Every facet of the HP books, -in its action-, embraces the occult.

    As to "A wrinkle" the author had strong Christian roots, although I think she headed off on a distorted science tangent?

    I think it makes a difference what worldview an author comes from. "Wrinkle" though distorted, still has a strong Christian worldview, whereas HP absolutely doesnt. Harry himself might be 'the good guy', but the whole conflict is still on the 'Against God' side of the fence. Its infighting - a civil war if you like - of the antigod camp.

    'A Wrinkle' has its faults, but I wouldnt hesitate to let my kids read it. In fact its a great idea for our next read aloud! Thanks Jeanne!! :)


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