Dad: So guys, we are going to review "A Wrinkle in Time." We finished reading this three weeks ago but, because of our vacation, we haven't had a chance to review it until now. Do you think you can remember enough about it?
Isaac (age 10): Maybe.
Gracie (age 8): That was only three weeks ago? It seems like forever.
Dad: Tell me about the characters.
Lily (age 6): Charles Wallace is a very, very smarty guy. He's a little five year old. He has an older sister Meg who I think is like 10 or 11, and sometimes she doesn't even know what Charles Wallace is talking about. I have no idea how he got so smart. He can make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Gracie: He could read minds.
Dad: He could tell Meg was going to come down to the kitchen in the middle of the night, and he had a sandwich all ready for her.
Gracie: And then Meg was like, "I can't finish all this," and Charles says, "Yes, but I think Mother would like some too," and just then the mom comes in and says, "You think I would like what?"
Isaac: Charles Wallace is a five-year-old genius.
Gracie: He uses giant words.
Isaac: Charles Wallace never talks to anyone else besides the people in his family. So everyone else thinks he's a little brainless kid, when he's probably the smartest five year old in the world.
Gracie: He's probably even smarter than that two-year-old on the news who can count in Spanish.
Dad: Tell me more about Meg.
Isaac: She's not one thing or the other. That's what Charles Wallace said. But I don't know what that means.
Dad: She doesn't fit in anywhere.
Gracie: It's because she makes a whole bunch of mistakes, and she doesn't think her life is ever right, and she talks bad to the principal.
Dad: Tell me about Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which.
Gracie: Mrs. Whatsit was funny because she wears long underwear and like five scarves and a big bundled up coat and a hat and boots, and right after she tried taking her boots off she sprains her 'dignity' which is her buns, and then she says "You have to put ointment on my dignity," and then after they finally get her boots off she puts them right back on!
Lily: They are really creatures.
Dad: Disguised as humans.
Isaac: One of them is a star. And one is a, well, imagine a centaur with wings. Imagine it shining, and it's the most beautiful creature, or horse, or whatever-it-is you ever saw.
Gracie: Mrs. Whatsit was the centaur with wings. And Mrs. Who has giant glasses. And she always quotes things in different languages.
Dad: They weren't very good at pretending to be people, were they?
Gracie: Mrs. Which thinks it's very tiring to show her whole self, so she's just faded and you can only see a little of her shimmering.
Lily: Mrs. Which talks in this scary voice.
Dad: Ha ha ha... At least the way Dad reads it, huh? Tell me about how everyone traveled from planet to planet.
Isaac: They tessered.
Lily: You can go all the way from one place to another and it takes a really short time. If you are going to a place that's really far away, you just tesser and you get right there in a second.
Gracie: "Wrinkle in Time." That describes a tesseract. If there was a big string and an ant was walking across the string, it would take him forever to get from one end to the other. But if you bring the two ends together the ant could just hop over. That would be like tessering. But for an ant.
Dad: But instead of traveling on a string, a tesseract is a way to jump through time and space.
Gracie: It would be awesome to tesser! I'm going to try it!
Isaac: Like to Florida.
Dad: Wouldn't that have been nice if we could have tessered to Florida on our vacation instead of driving for three days?
Isaac: I liked driving for three days. Because then we could stop at hotels and go swimming.
Dad: That's the sad thing about when Meg tessered though the universe... She couldn't stop and go swimming on different planets.
Kids: Ha ha ha...
Dad: Where was one place they tessered by accident?
Isaac: The 2-D planet.
Gracie: It hurt! It felt like you were getting squished by a cement truck.
Dad: The three Mrs's forgot the kids couldn't go to a two dimensional planet. Why were they doing all this tessering anyway?
Lily: The kids had to find their father and fight the evil thingie and save their father.
Dad: And they found their father on the planet Camazotz.
Isaac: Bad place.
Lily: On Camazotz everyone did the same things. It's freaky - when one person went inside, everyone had to go inside. Scary!
Isaac: Everything was like the same, like the same, like the same. They do everything at the exact same time, exact same time, exact same time. Like if someone was jumping rope and someone was playing ball, the rope would hit the ground, hit the ground, when the ball hit the ground, hit the ground. Everything was in rhythm and everything was the same, was the same, was the same.
Gracie: At the exact same time all the doors opened, all the mothers came out, all the kids put their stuff away, and all came inside at the exact same time.
Dad: What's so bad about that? I'd love it if I could make you put your toys away...
Isaac: But nobody's happy, nobody's sad...
Gracie: You can't even breathe in your own rhythm. They were all controlled by "IT."
Lily: And "IT" is gross.
Gracie: "IT" is a giant, squishy brain.
Dad: Did they find their father?
Gracie: Yes. Meg thought that once they found her father, he would save the day.
Dad: Is that what happened?
Lily: He killed the day.
Gracie: WHAT? Ha ha ha hah...
Isaac: Charles Wallace 's brain got captured by IT. And if he went away with the others, he would explode because he wouldn't be able to bear being ripped away from IT so suddenly.
Dad: Meg wanted everyone else to solve her problems. But in the end, who had to save the day?
Dad: Even though she wasn't as smart as Charles Wallace, or as powerful as Mrs. Whatsit...
Gracie: But she had love. "I love you, Charles Wallace! I love you! I love you!!!"
Dad: We didn't talk about Aunt Beast yet, and that's one of my favorite characters from any book I've ever read.
Lily: She is a creature too.
Isaac: A kind of creature with no eyeballs. They just have dents where the eyes would be.
Gracie: They are tall and have four arms. And they are dull gray. Everything on that planet is dull and gray.
Dad: Because they don't need colors... no eyes.
Gracie: But they have the best, amazing, yummiest food in the world. And they have tentacles. A lot of them. And that's how they speak. Through their tentacles. And smell.
Dad: The beasts couldn't understand when Meg was trying to describe what "sight" is like. Wouldn't it be weird to have someone describe a sense that we weren't built for?
Isaac: Like, a shark has a sense that we don't have, I think.
Dad: We don't even know what senses we don't have. If someone was trying to describe one, we wouldn't know what they were taking about -- we'd have nothing to compare it to, no frame of reference.
Gracie: The beasties have a sense we don't have. They can read thoughts. You think of something, and they can see what you are thinking. You better not think of something bad about them!
Dad: So was it a good book?
Gracie: Awesome book! People should read it!
Dad: Did you know there are more in the series?
Dad: "A Wind in the Door" is next... it has strange creatures too. A cherubim.
Gracie: What is a cherubim?
Dad: Oh, ho ho... I'm going to have to show you a picture. I have two copies of it, each with a different cherubim painting on the cover.
Isaac: Aren't those the things with zillions of eyes and wings?
Gracie: Then let's get it! Right now! In this very room!
front row: Charles Wallace, Meg, Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit; back row: Aunt Beast, Mr. Murry, Mrs. Which, Mrs. Murry - by Gracie
Author: Madeleine L'Engle
Published, 1962: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Like it? Find it