Book of the Month
What did the
Size: 392 pages
The better part of my free time during my High School years was spent at the library, in the Children’s Room. As of of my numerous after school jobs, my work included maintaining the computers for the kids to play edutainment games on, as well as shelving all sorts of books and videos. Ranging from picture books, to easy readers to beginning fiction, over those 4 years, I became well versed with the entire collection. There were several “hit” books, books that were always checked out, checked back in and then checked back out immediately again. One of those books was a work of fiction by Madeleine L’Engle called A Wrinkle In Time. To be honest, I never paid much attention to the book itself. I didn’t get to read it when it was age appropriate and as a know-it-all teenager, I was too busy reading Kerouac to go back into “kids books.” But I did understand that kids in elementary school, of the reading age to go along with it, couldn’t get enough of it. We had hardcover, paperback and video adaptations of it and they were constantly checked out. Clearly this book was something. As A Wrinkle In Time celebrates it’s 50th anniversary, it gets new life in the form of a graphic novel adaptation that will absolutely renew the book’s standing amongst a new generation, thanks to the masterful work by Hope Larson.
The graphic novel adaptation format isn’t anything new, but we are seeing a bit of a renaissance for the format, as Larson’s A Wrinkle In Time joins the work of Darwyn Cooke’s Parker series and The Wizard of Oz series by Eric Shanower and Skottie Young as must read highlights in the world of both literature and graphic novels. Taking a similar approach, Larson tackles the original text of L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time and, for the first time ever, brings it to life with her illustrations while maintaining the heavy details of the narrative of this science fiction fantasy.
If you’re like me and never read A Wrinkle In Time, there’s a good chance you’ll be kicking yourself, as the book’s actual content is not too dissimilar to many of the comic books we enjoy today. While I initially dismissed it as “a book for girls,” I was delighted to find out that L’Engle’s story was one of wild imagination combined with just enough science to make me, even in my mid-30s, curious about space travel. The story focuses on a young girl, Meg Wallace, our protagonist, who along with her mother, twin siblings and odd younger brother Charles, are dealing with the disappearance of their father, an established scientist who has disappeared on a secret mission for the government. The story itself starts out as one would expect from a pre-teen angst book, with Meg getting in trouble at school, no one understanding her and all of her feelings surrounding her father’s disappearance. Early on we get a sense of oddness about her youngest brother, Charles, which acts as a glimpse of what’s to come. The first few chapters start out innocently and normal enough, but by chapter 2 and 3, with the introduction of a young teenage boy Calvin, and an odd recluse woman named Mrs. Whatsit, do things start to get a bit weird. And weird they do, but in the most delightful way as Meg, Charles and Calvin are dispatched on an adventure to save the Wallace’s father, which takes them across time and space to another planet called Camazotz. Through this, we learn about the fourth and fifth dimension and wrap our minds, through the eyes of Meg, at intergalactic travel, as she meets all sorts of aliens and ultimately the evil force that has captured her father.
In adapting A Wrinkle In Time, Hope Larson has been able to take her gentle style and bring to life the imaginative concepts that L’Engle provided in the original text. For those unaware of Larson’s work, she has an ability to visually represent emotion and feeling in that modern independent comics kind of way. When Meg is frustrated at school early in the book, we can feel that frustration through subtle details in her eyes and body language. We can feel the innocence, oddness and sense of something not being at it seems when we see Charles Wallace. And finally, Larson is able to bring to reality the aliens, planets and other out there aspects of A Wrinkle In Time in a way that is both true to L’Engle’s original work and relatable to today’s readers. It’s no easy task to explain the interplanetary travel aspects, and I can’t imagine how L’Engle described it in her book, but it plays to the strength of the graphic novel format that we’re able to visually see the concepts of dimensions and space travel. Additionally, Larson’s approach to the adaptation is effectively simple. Keeping to the basis of a 9 panel grid underneath, Larson expands and contracts her layouts as necessary, but always serving the story. With the single color of blue providing accent to the black and white art, the book carries a somber, blue-like mood throughout which fits perfectly through every moment of the adventure. When you look at Larson’s work on A Wrinkle In Time, it becomes another shining example of what a graphic novel can be.
It’s no question that A Wrinkle In Time is a modern classic, and now with this graphic novel adaptation by Hope Larson, it gets another moment in the spotlight to shine. As we’re always looking for books to recommend for kids, Hope Larson brings us a mainstay for that influential age group of late elementary school to early middle school (ages 8 to 14). While great for kids, this book was enjoyable even to me as an adult and should celebrated as much as we’ve celebrated books like Darwyn Cooke’s Parker graphic novels and other adaptations. A Wrinkle In Time is a major accomplishment for Hope Larson and is strongly recommended for kids and adults of all ages.
I can’t wait to give this to my 9 year old niece