Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Harry Potter Week Confession #1: How Madeline L'Engle Opened the Door to Harry Potter.

This post comes from Visiting Librarian Katie (who gave us this review), she'll be gracing us with a few Harry Potter related confessions this week. We thank her for her bravery :)

Harry Potter Week Confession #1

Confession: There was a time in my life when I wouldn’t have given Harry Potter or any of his Hogwarts pals the time of day. I didn’t really do fantasy books. I liked my stories to be grounded in the real world--past or present, on that point I wasn’t too picky. I dedicated my summers to reading and re-reading about Laura’s adventures on the prairie or Anne’s red-haired antics on Prince Edward Island or solving mysteries with Nancy. I liked my books to be predictable and familiar--no funny business.

In my defense, whether it is right or wrong, it is very easy to judge a book by its cover. And the covers of fantasy and science fiction books were rather terrifying in the not-so-distant past. In retrospect, I still have no idea what led me to pluck A Wrinkle in Time from my teacher’s shelves that one day during D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything And Read) time. I can only think it must have been desperation, because this cover terrified me (and still does):
But the nice thing about books is that once you open them, you can no longer see the cover image, only the images created by the author’s words. And from the get go Madeleine L’Engle fed me a new set of images to replace the creepiness of the cover: “It was a dark and stormy night...” And everything I ever believed about books changed as I explored new worlds, met terrible villains, discovered that science was actually kind of awesome, and fell a little bit in love with Meg and Calvin and even the ever-exhausting Charles Wallace. 

I followed the adventures of the Murry family through other worlds and distant times throughout the next four books in the series. These were what I like to think of as my Gateway Books, leading me down a thrilling path of a new genre of books that I’ve been happy to follow ever since. Thanks to Madeleine L’Engle, I was more than happy to embrace J.K. Rowling, even though I was 17 the first time I came across Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and thought I might be too old for a book that featured a rather cartoonish boy on his broom on the cover. By then I had learned my lesson about books and covers, thank you very much, and so I opened to Chapter One to meet “The Boy Who Lived.”

The Wrinkle in Time Quintet includes the following titles:
A Wrinkle in Time is one of the most significant novels of our time. This fabulous, ground-breaking science-fiction and fantasy story is the first of five in the Time Quintet series about the Murry family.

A Wind in the Door—When Charles Wallace falls ill, Meg, Calvin, and their teacher, Mr. Jenkins, must travel inside C.W. to make him well, and save the universe from the evil Echthros.

A Swiftly Tilting Planet—The Murry and O’Keefe families enlist the help of the unicorn, Gaudior, to save the world from imminent nuclear war.

Many Waters—Meg Murry, now in college, time travels with her twin brothers, Sandy and Dennys, to a desert oasis that is embroiled in war.

An Acceptable Time—While spending time with her grandparents, Alex and Kate Murry, Polly O’Keefe wanders into a time 3,000 years before her own.

And for what it’s worth, the new cover illustrations are gorgeous.

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