by Madeliene L’Engle, first published 1973
“We are the song of the universe. We sing with the angelic host. We are the musicians. Our song orders the rhythm of creation.”
After reading A Wind in the Door, I understand why the fantasy genre in a children’s book is so addicting. With skillful writing, such as L’Engle brings, you lose all sense of what is possible and what is not possible, or, as the teacher says in this book, What is real? Carried along by the drama, and the weaving of the two worlds, our own normal world, and the fantasy world, there is a pull to keep reading.
One of the criteria for a great children’s book is that the message it offers is profound, universal, and timeless. There could be no more important message than the idea that we are all one, we are all connected, and only love maintains that connection. L’Engle is masterful at presenting this, and also discriminating between love as a superficial emotion, and love in the highest order. She does it in a way that children can understand, by giving very specific examples.
I also appreciate a children’s book where the characters react in a normal human way, despite the fantasy involved. Each time the main character Meg feels that she cannot possibly do what is asked, the reader has a feeling of recognition- yes, that is too hard, too big a leap. And then when Meg acts, we feel the same expansion.
I was slightly troubled by the pain of sacrifice that L’Engle added to the drama, but it was not heavy handed, and wasn’t dominating, so I was able to hold it lightly. However, given that piece of the drama, and also some of the concepts in this book, I definitely feel this is for the older children, age 12.
The book stands very much on it’s own, and doesn’t require A Wrinkle in Time as a prequel, though that children’s book is equally important as a piece of children’s literature.