February 2021 Newsletter

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What? A Wrinkle in Time as a Graphic Novel?

“What?!” I exclaimed. “What?”

As I expressed amazement and surprise, I knew very well why the book was there even though I hadn’t selected it. Nick, the wonderful adult services librarian, had chosen and ordered this book for next month’s graphic novel club. Confession time: I am a word person and have been this way as soon as I learned to read well. Comic books have never really held much fascination for me because even as a child what I really wanted, was, well, words. For me, the pictures were always a distraction.

When Nick invited me to join The Argonauts Graphic Novel Book Club—such a snappy name!—I agreed readily, but I did wonder if I was going to have the same reaction to graphic novels as I had had with comic books. In short, the answer is yes. Graphic novels just don’t draw me in the way novels do. However, I find the club a welcome challenge during this time of the pandemic, and although I don’t get as much out of graphic novels as other members of the Argonauts do, I feel as though I am pushing myself in a different direction, a very good thing to do when home is pretty much where I am, day in and day out.

Nevertheless, I felt my willingness to be flexible waver as I considered A Wrinkle in Time as a graphic novel. In the late 1960s, reading Madeleine L’Engle’s extraordinary book was a seminal experience for me. I was perhaps ten or eleven, and I came upon A Wrinkle in Time by chance in the tiny library—hardly bigger than a janitor’s closet, it seemed—in the poor rural school I went to in Vassalboro, Maine.

From the minute I started reading about Meg Murry and her adventures, I was hooked, and I still remember feeling as though a sort of current was going through me. Physics? Traveling through time and space? Supernatural beings to guide the plucky Meg as she searches for her missing father? It seemed as though A Wrinkle in Time had been written especially for me, a young girl growing up on the cusp of the women’s movement and on the edge of a wave of books that would feature smart, brave female protagonists. In the late 1960s, books like that were not all that common. In most adventures stories, males were the main characters, and young girls just had to tag along in their imaginations, inserting themselves into the story, always on the sidelines.

Madeleine L’Engle was definitely on the vanguard when she featured a girl as the central protagonist in A Wrinkle in Time. When accepting one of the many awards the book received, L’Engle noted pithily, “I’m a female. Why would I give all the best ideas to a male?”

Why, indeed? My own Maya Hammond, the protagonist of the Great Library Series, is a direct descendant of Meg Murray, someone who doesn’t really fit in, someone who accepts the call to strike out on her own adventure. Like Meg, Maya has help, but she is the catalyst, the bright thread that binds the story together.

Can the graphic novel even begin to compare with the brilliant original? Time will tell.

À bientôt,

Laurie Graves

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