Whoah. The book A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle just turned 50! NPR has a great write-up about it and how it almost didn’t see the light of day. I have to give this book credit as the one which sucked me into reading science fiction way back when I was 9 or 10 years old. It was just so…weird. The three mysterious and eccentric old ladies, the time and space travel, the math and physics concepts, the creepy village controlled by a giant, pulsing mind-controlling brain…it was right up my alley. The second book in the series was just as weird, though in a different way, and I never did get around to reading the third. But that first book really made an impact, and just a couple of years ago I read it again for the first time in 30 years. It’s still pretty damn fantastic, and still very weird for a book aimed at the younger crowd — especially considering when it was written.
Imagine, for a moment, that you’re a publisher hearing a pitch about a children’s book whose tangled plot braids together quantum physics, fractions and megaparsecs a measure for distances in intergalactic space. The book also casually tosses out phrases in French, Italian, German and ancient Greek. Sound like the next kids best-seller to you?
It didn’t to the many publishers who rejected Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, which turns 50 this year. The novel was an immediate hit with young readers and with critics when it was published, and it won the Newbery Medal in 1963. Since then, it has remained a beloved favorite of children and adults alike.
But it almost didn’t see the light of day. At the time, L’Engle already had six books to her name, but publishers were perplexed by her latest.