Monday, April 1, 2013

A Wrinkle in Time Graphic Novel - By Madeleine L'Engle, Adapted by Hope Larson

Originally published in 1962, A Wrinkle in Time has been a long debated classic.  With ideas and a plot line that incorporate the fight between good and evil, God, mathematics, quantum physics, family values, time and dimension  travel, and so much more, this science fiction fantasy novel is sure to be a classic for a long time to come.  Despite it's wealth of themes, "Some people think it's too Christian, while others think it is not Christian enough," and it has been banned often.  Madeleine L'Engle was adamant that it would be published as a children's book, and because of this, it was rejected by 26 publishers before it was finally published.  It went on to be a bestseller and to win many awards.

I first read this book when I was in junior high.  I was always looking for something new to read.  I picked up this book and remember thinking I’d never read anything like it before.  It is science fiction, but the protagonist is a girl.  Wow!  Given the complexity of some of the ideas, I wasn't able to fully understand everything, but I was able to understand the story line. 

In this story, the Murry family is parented by two scientists: the beautiful Mrs. Murry and the missing Mr. Murry.  Their children are fourteen-year-old Meg (unruly, lacking in self-confidence, but very smart), ten-year-old twins Sandy and Dennis (athletic and relatively normal), and five-year-old Charles Wallace (a super genius).   Meg and Charles Wallace, along with their friend, Calvin O’Keefe, must travel to a distant planet via a tessaract and save Mr. Murry who has been imprisoned while on an assignment for the government.  Along the way, Meg learns to trust and believe in herself and realizes how blessed she is to have her family and her flaws.
Every couple years, I reread this book.  As I became an adult, it started making more sense to me.  However, when I had the chance to read the recently published graphic novel, I jumped at it.  And it was definitely worth it.    Hope Larson did an excellent job illustrating this graphic novel to both stay true to the original story and also to help readers understand L’Engle’s concepts a bit better.  It also helps the novel feel a little more timeless.   

Overall, I think this book would be an excellent read across many subject areas in both middle and high school.  In art, it can be read for its illustrations; in math, for its mathematical concepts; in science for its use of quantum physics; in languages, for it's varied use of foreign language; and in English, for being all around awesome, and for its excellent use of themes, symbols, imagery, and more.

This book's main weakness, and the same was true of the original text, is that it can be confusing and frustrating for reluctant readers.  It is possible to understand the story without needing to understand L'Engle's complex ideas, but many young readers might not see that.


Tom Philion said...

Jessica--great job! Thanks for kicking off the first of our 2013 critical book reviews.

I really like the way you kept your personal voice, summarized the story, and critiqued. The flow works very well for me, and I definitely appreciated the strong links.

Did you mean to format the last paragraph differently, or is that something you should correct?

In any case, again, great job!

Samantha said...

Although I love Sci-fi now, I wasn't a big reader of it as a kid, so I've so far missed out on the classic that is "A Wrinkle in Time." However, based on your review it seems like something I'd like to read, either in book or graphic novel form. Based on what you said about its weaknesses, I think I might even have a better grasp of the complexities of the story reading it now than I would have if I had read it as a kid. I've found that in re-reading many books over the years, that I pick up on a lot more subtleties now than I did as a child. But that's why it's great when a story like this is revived with something like a graphic novel, to renew interest!

Henry Buckner said...

I thought you did a really good job on your review of "A Wrinkle in Time" Jessica. I never was much into the science fiction books but the way you broke down the history behind the book, how it was banned, and its successful adaptation into a graphic novel got me interested and actually makes me want to go read it right now. As far as the complexity weakness you mentioned I believe this is when we as future educators have to find ways to break it down for our reluctant readers.

Jasmine Fells said...

I enjoys reading your post. I am not a big fan of Sci-Fi either but this was written well. I like the sites that your included that provided more info as to what you were talking about. I know someone who is really into Sci-Fi so they was amazed at this post.Everything flowed well in your post...Great Job

baboonfan said...

Nick Petersen: I'm interested to read the graphic novel now. I've seen the movie, but never read the book. I think you're right, the female voice in the science fiction genre is incredibly unrepresented. Most of the time if a female is present it is as the figure of an otherwordly sex symbol, or a helpless heroine in a soppy romance setting. We need more adventurous female characters if we want to instill these values into our female students. I think Meg would make a nice name for herself as a figure in Young Adult Literature if the book was taught along with Tom Sawyer and Red Cap.

Sean Andrew said...

I absolutely love your review of the graphic novel. I read "A Wrinkle in Time" in class back in sixth grade. Even with bein an avid reader, I had a lot of difficulty understanding some of the concepts.I think that putting it in graphic novel form, like you had mentioned, was a great idea. It gives a visual representation to some of the harder concepts. Also, Jessica, I loved how you kept your own voice throughout the review, but still made it sound phenominal.