Many would consider this a classic story, and understandably so. This was read to me as a kid, but it wasn’t until recently that I picked it up to read for myself. Actually, I listened to the unabridged audio book version, which was read by the author herself.
I can’t help but wonder if Cornelia Funke didn’t borrow a lot of ideas from this story for Inkheart. If you read them both close together you may see what I mean:
A Wrinkle in Time: main character is Meg
Inkheart: main character is Meggie
A Wrinkle in Time: father is mysteriously missing
Inkheart: mother is mysteriously missing
A Wrinkle in Time: a stranger shows up on a stormy night (Mrs. Whatsit)
Inkheart: a stranger shows up on a stormy night (Dustfinger)
And that’s just the beginning…
A bad-tempered teenage girl lives with her mother (who is a scientist), her five-year-old brother (a nascent genius) and two ten-year-old twin brothers (who have very little to do with the story). Where is her father? Well, that’s a mystery as he has been missing for more than a year.
Meg discovers that a tesseract is a fifth-dimensional phenomenon and finds that her father was working on it when he disappeared. She encounters a schoolmate, Calvin O’Keefe, and finds him, herself, and her genius brother, Charles Wallace, traveling through space by means of tesseract with Mrs. Whatsit and her strange, angelic-like friends.
They find that Meg’s father is trapped on the planet Camazotz, which is dominated by a dark and evil force: The Black Thing. They go to rescue him and encounter many strange and peculiar obstacles along the way, one of which is a man with red eyes who casts a hypnotic spell over their minds, and Charles Wallace becomes taken over under its influence, which puts Meg’s love to the test to free both him and her father.
Madeleine uses some interesting arguments on how her “tesseract” theory works, and there are some interesting worlds that the characters travel to, but personally I had a hard time getting into it. I believe, as a kid, that I enjoyed it. After all the story is very creative in a lot of ways, but it just didn’t do if for me this last time. I didn’t like the cheesy opening, “It was a dark and stormy night” and I just couldn’t get past my dislike for the main character, Meg. She did have a kind heart, but if she was only a little less, well, irritating/obnoxious, I’d probably have liked her a little better. Also, some areas just seemed to lack important details and didn’t pull me into the pages. Still, many people loved this story, so I encourage you to find out for yourself.
Things to consider:
I think the content of this story is appropriate for most ages, however the subject of it may be a little more advanced in understanding. Also there are some frightening situations which may be too much for some kids. I’ll say that 13 is a good age for a child to read on their own, and good for both boys and girls. This book does hold some strong Christian themes in it, so much so that I’ve read complaints about it being “too religious” and “pushy”, but they are most likely coming from “non-Christian” readers.
Opportunities for discussion:
People cannot live as machines, they must be free to be individuals; both friendships and family are very important; and love can prevail over seemingly impossible circumstances.