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A Wrinkle in Time
by Madeleine L'Engle
The Book Club Novel Guide outlines a complete theme-based unit with Book Club lesson plans focusing on A Wrinkle in Time.
Below you will find a synopsis, further reading materials, discussion topics, and reviews that you might find useful during your teaching of A Wrinkle in Time.
Meg and her brilliant but eccentric younger brother, Charles Wallace, share adventures as they travel through time and space to rescue their father, a scientist. Their father had been doing research on “tessering,” a form of space and time travel, when he disappeared. With the help of three beings who call themselves Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which, and a new friend, Calvin O’Keefe, they “tesser” to the planet of Camazotz. There the children’s father is imprisoned behind the Black Thing, an evil force in the universe. The Black Thing is helped by the power of IT, a disembodied brain that controls all the people of Camazotz.
On Camazotz, Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin fight against the power of IT. Charles Wallace voluntarily succumbs to IT to get information, while Meg works to free her father. Meg succeeds. Her father then tessers Meg and Calvin off the planet. Unfortunately, Charles Wallace is left behind. After this narrow escape from the cold power of IT, Meg faces the enormous physical and moral challenge of returning to Camazotz to save Charles Wallace. Because of her love for her brother, she goes, and by expressing this love, she is able to free him.
Through Meg’s voice, author Madeleine L’Engle weaves a powerful narrative. L’Engle combines the realism of Meg’s emotional journey with the fantastic world of tessering, IT, and the Black Thing.
Further Reading and Links
The following sites can be used to support and enrich the Book Club unit for A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle.
About the Author and the Book
Learn Facts about Space Exploration and Travel
Find Out about Mathematical Principles
Investigate the Lives of Great Men and Women
Big Theme Questions
How can our weaknesses become our strengths? When might our strengths be weaknesses?
When are risks justified? When are they foolish?
Why is conformity appealing to many people? What are the dangers of conformity?
What might you learn about how to live from real-life and fictional heroes?
Outline of Lesson Plan | Discussion Topics | Writing Prompts
The following section can be used to get discussions started in your classroom. It is based on the Lesson Plan within the Book Club Novel Guide for A Wrinkle in Time. The Lesson Plan includes blackline masters for the students that support the writing prompts. The writing prompts provided are meant as suggestions only. As students become more comfortable with the Book Club format, they will certainly have ideas and questions that go beyond the prompts. Consider giving students “free choice” as a log option. Book Club Reading Logs help students respond to literature and organize ideas as they participate in Book Club.
Chapter 1 | Literary Elements: Elements of Fantasy
Chapter 2 | Literary Elements: Author’s Craft—Character Development
Chapter 3 | Language Conventions: Book Club Talk
Chapter 4 | Literary Elements: Descriptive Language
Chapter 5 | Literary Elements: Elements of Fantasy, Revisited
Chapter 6 | Comprehension: Fifth Dimension, Time Travel; Compare and Contrast
Chapter 7 | Comprehension: Reviewing Content and Making Predictions
Chapter 8 | Language Conventions: Fluency Review
Chapter 9 | Comprehension: Sequencing
Chapter 10 | Comprehension: Making Predictions from Text Features
Chapter 11 | Comprehension: Analyzing Characters
Chapter 12 | Response to Literature: Author’s Purpose
Planet Book Club's Review
We would like to introduce Planet Book Club's student book reviewers: Lilly and Carmen.
Note to Our Readers: You will notice that the book gets two reviewers. Why? Because we believe two opinions are generally more helpful than one opinion. Remember that people have completely unique sets of experiences that shape how they think and feel about things. Something else to keep in mind: Even perfectly pleasant human beings can have cranky days, lazy days, and confused days. Let's face it—we can't be thoughtful, clear-headed, and fair every moment of our lives. Our reviewers, though friendly and occasionally brilliant, are only human. So, to be fair to you and to each book, we always give two points of view. That way, if one reviewer is having a bad day and seems completely out to lunch, you can perhaps connect with the other reviewer. Got it? Good.
Knowing something about the reviewers might help you to understand their opinions. So, let's get to know them:
My name is Lilly. I like to play soccer, hike, and be outside. When I can't go outside because of bad weather I like to read a good mystery or adventure story. My younger brother is hearing impaired so I have become good at using sign language. I think I would like to work as a special education teacher someday. Of course, I have dreams of playing soccer in the Olympic games. We'll see what happens. But in the meantime you can read what I have to say about A Wrinkle in Time...
Lilly: There's a reason why A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle has been a favorite for so many years. Who doesn't like a good old-fashioned struggle between good and evil? Actually, "old-fashioned" might not be the right word. The good guys aren't mighty-looking warriors but kids you could picture standing behind you in the lunch line or daydreaming and drooling in your math class. The bad guy is a bossy, cranky brain ... without a body. I don't know about you, but I haven't seen many of these. However, such strange creatures are common in the world L'Engle has created. That's what is great about reading this book—you never know who or what you're going to meet next.
The main characters—Meg Murry and her brilliant younger brother Charles Wallace—find themselves traveling through different dimensions of time and space. Their mission is to free their scientist father from the clutches of that nasty brain. Three peculiar beings whom the children meet one stormy evening push them along on this journey. The children are frightened and doubtful, but they love and miss their father and want to help him. How do they travel? Where do they go? Do they find their father? You will get the answers to these questions when you read this exciting book. Not only will you encounter colorful characters and hold your breath waiting to read what happens on every page—but you will also learn something about people and the power of love, friendship, and family. You'll look at yourself and others in new ways. You might even take a closer look at one of those drooling kids in math class. What special talents might this person have? Who are the people who love this kid? Better yet, you might look in the mirror, admire your own uniqueness, and imagine all that you can accomplish.
Hello, my name is Carmen. I'm president of my own online club—Future Physicists of America. My other interests include collecting magnets, playing badminton, training my pet mice, and swing dancing. I admit—I'm difficult to please. I hate clutter and I want everything to make sense. If it can't be explained by a graph or spread sheet, it probably won't interest me. Well that's me in a nutshell. So let's get to the task at hand, here is what I think about the book...
Carmen: I am troubled. I thought A Wrinkle in Time was a scientific work. I hoped for something that would explore the nature of space and time. Instead, I found a book about kids on some kind of foolish journey. I'm not a person who likes silliness. My parents say reading materials should instruct, NOT entertain. Yet in this book ordinary kids zip all over the universe, people disappear into the thin air without reason, and ridiculous creatures appear on practically every page. The book also has wild ideas—that love is a powerful force and that imperfections are actually good. Imagine! It is really strange!
I am willing, however, to give the book a chance. The writing is decent and the book provides some practical instruction in physics. The following changes will improve the book: