The graphic novel adaptation of Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time came out in paperback form this past Tuesday. Adapted and illustrated by Hope Larsen, A Wrinkle in Time tells the story of Meg and Charles Wallace, siblings who share the burden of not fitting in and struggling to keep hope going after their father disappeared from a government science contract. While Charles Wallace, their new friend Calvin and three not-of-this-world witches (Mrs. Which, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Who) are with her from the very beginning of their adventure, the focus is on Meg and her journey to inner strength and courage.
I don’t have the paperback version — I bought the hardback when the adaptation originally came out in 2012 (its publication a celebration of the novel’s 40th anniversary). I didn’t even consider myself a “comics reader” at the time, but I still pre-ordered it at the first chance I could get.
You see, A Wrinkle in Time was the first real piece of genre literature I remember eating up as a kid. It was the ’90s, so mainstream comics were intimidating and ultra-violent, thick sci-fi tomes were too dense and I hadn’t found out Star Wars (which I loved) had novels until a couple years later. But I remember being in Orlando of all places when I was 10 years old, the night before our first day at Disney World and telling my mom by the pool at our resort all about this book I started reading on the plane. I was giddy about it, explaining how brilliant it was and how much I liked smart, stubborn Meg and how excited I was to read more. More than that, Meg finding solace and strength in the love she feels for her family and Calvin and the witches made 10-year-old me feel a little less alone in my own life.A Wrinkle in Time means a lot to me, is what I’m saying. Luckily, the adaptation works and works really well.
I read the book so many times growing up that I know the story quite well and the graphic novel is incredibly faithful to the novel. While L’Engle’s third person narration has been changed to either visual action in the panels or Meg’s first person perspective, all the elements I loved — from the message of hope pushing against the darkness to Meg’s defiance in the face of despair to the charm of the three witches to Meg’s stark realization that her father is fallible — are right there on the page. And the big, critical visuals of the book are given even more focus thanks to the visual nature of the graphic novel. The horror elements of the last third of the book (especially possessed Charles Wallace) are particularly highlighted by the comic medium.
There were also elements of the book I had struggled to visualize when I was a kid that became fully realized in comic form. Aunt Beast and her kind was one visual I couldn’t wrap my brain around at the time, but even Mrs. Whatsit’s true form was a challenge to picture along with the grand scope of the planets they visit. Larson’s illustrations take the story to another level in that regard. I feel like I have a better understanding of the novel thanks to seeing it through Larson’s eyes.
Part of me says that if you want to introduce someone (especially a young boy or girl) to the story for the first time, you should give them the original novel. However, I can also absolutely see how a kid could open up the graphic novel of A Wrinkle in Time and instantly fall in love with the story, having a totally different experience than I did. If you’re a parent looking for a book to read with your kids, the graphic novel is a beautiful and rich telling of the story. At the very least, if you loved A Wrinkle in Time as a young reader and you want to rediscover the story for yourself, I can’t recommend this adaptation enough.
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