Next Time, I’m Tessering to New York

The cover version I had would have also worked on a Trapper Keeper.

If, like me, you were unable to attend the recent celebration of A Wrinkle in Time‘s fiftieth anniversary (did your invitation get lost in the mail, too?), have no fear! You can read all about the evening’s events at Publisher’s Weekly and The Horn Book. It sounds like it was a truly special and exciting event. One moment I liked, from PW:

“[Rebecca] Stead said: “My son made me lunch today.” Then she pointed to Meg as her favorite character in Wrinkle: “[Meg] gave me access to the internal life of a girl like me,” Stead said. She added that it was through Meg’s vulnerability and “self-doubting” that she was able to address her own private feelings that girls don’t always share with one another at that age. Meeting Meg was Stead’s way of “having that conversation.””

This is one of my favorite aspects of A Wrinkle in Time. Meg isn’t the perfect protagonist, ready to save the universe. She’s frustrated with herself and her surroundings; she’s quick to anger; she doesn’t always know how to express herself. But she does save the universe. It can be a huge relief for young readers to know that you don’t have to be perfect to accomplish great tasks.

At Horn Book, Lolly Robinson brings up an interesting point about the book’s lasting appeal:

“What I found most interesting about the panel discussion was the way all of them managed to praise the book’s emotional appeal to kids while hinting that it might not stand up to in-depth critical appraisal. I found this refreshing, and it’s a good lesson for all of us. Nothing will ever sway my devotion to Meg and her family, but it has taken me almost 20 years to get over the feeling of let-down I had when I re-read this book as adult and found it lacking in a literary sense.”

I haven’t reread A Wrinkle in Time in a while, but this makes me wonder if I’d find it lacking as well if I read it now. Part of me thinks I wouldn’t. I don’t remember being blown away by the style initially. What I enjoyed as a reader was the strength of characters, the inclusion of physics and math as natural part of the story, and the excitement of traveling through time and space. (And really, who doesn’t want to travel through time and space? This is part of why I now watchDoctor Who!) I don’t think I’d put it to a real, critical test, but I’d hope that I could walk away with a similar kind of satisfaction I had when I was young. Even so, I think Robinson is good to point out that no matter what, so many readers are devoted to this book. There’s a great emotional attachment there that’s transcended generation.

Might have to add this classic to my to-read list again!

To Infinity, and Beyond

At the Hub, Jessica Miller has a fantastic post about the growing number of YA science fiction books. Right now, there are some great options for middle readers (A Wrinkle in Time, anyone?) but there aren’t a lot for slightly older teens. Even though I hadn’t thought about this before, I felt the same way. I loved L’Engle’s books and others like it, but there’s a fairly large shift between that and adult sci-fi or fantasy. When I read Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End in seventh grade, I thought it was interesting, but I certainly was hooked enough to pick up his other books, even though he’s an excellent writer. I needed that bridge. As a result, whenever my husband tries to convince me that I actually do like sci-fi, I try to argue–even though I usually enjoy whatever I read or watch.

I think the shift might be inspired by the recent popularity of YA dystopian society novels. There’s obviously a huge market for YA sci-fi, and I’m glad there will be more books for these readers to enjoy. I also think this will be very helpful for female YA readers, who might have been intimidated by the current masculine vibe in the sci-fi section of the bookstore. (I know I was.)

In her post, Miller shares a list of YA sci-fi books. I know I’ll be picking up at least a few of these. Maybe this will finally help me admit that I am a fan of science fiction; I just needed that bridge.