A Wrinkle in Time, worthy graphic novel adaptation

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of A Wrinkle in Time, Madeline L'Engle's justly loved young adult novel about children who must rescue a dimension-hopping physicist who has been trapped by a malignant intelligence bent on bringing conformity to the universe.

Hill and Wang's A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel is Hope Larson's really wonderful and worthy adaptation of the original. Larson is very faithful to the original text, and the graphic form really suits the story, as it allows for direct illustration of some of the more abstract concepts (such as the notion of folding space in higher dimensions to attain faster-than-light transpositions of matter).

But Larson does more than capture the abstract with her graphics. L'Engle's charm and gift was in her ability to marry the abstract with the numinous -- to infuse stories about math and physics with so much heart, heartbreak, bravery, sorrow and joy that they changed everyone who read them. Larson does a brilliant job of capturing this crucial element of L'Engle's style.

I read this book aloud to my four year old daughter over a couple weeks' worth of bedtimes. There were plenty of times when I was sure that the nuances of the story were going over her head (she didn't come out of the experience with any sense of what a tesseract is!) but her interest never, ever wavered. That's because Larson's illustrations do such a fine job of showing the emotional arc of L'Engle's characters that even a small child could not help but be drawn into the drama. In fact, reading this book turned out to be both a treat and a chore, because every night's session ended with her demanding that I read more. And when we finished the book and closed the cover, she took it from my hands, turned it over, handed it back to me and said, "Again."

Hard to argue with that.

Hill and Wang were kind enough to give us exclusive access to chapter two, which you'll find below, past the jump!

A Wrinkle in Time


  1. I loved this book series as a child.  I was surprised to learn it had been banned.  (This is Banned Book Awareness Week). 


    However, I’m not suprised, Cory, to read that your daughter wants you to read it to her over and over again.  Having a storyteller for a dad just adds to the magic.

  2. I really liked this book and I felt the best part was using my imagination, visualization, encyclopedias, and wonder to figure it out. I’m not in favor (for me) of graphic novels because they take away the imagination part. Like a music video, graphic novels present one view of the subject; it may not be the one I want.

    1. I can see your point, and in general I’d prefer novels to be novels and comics to be original comics rather than adaptations.

      But there are exceptions to every rule and I think this is one of them.  This looks like a legitimately gorgeous adaptation that respects the original work while also saying something new about it.  The pacing alone has me blown away — Larson’s feel for the little moments, balanced with the sheer forward momentum.  These pages make for a pleasingly brisk read but they don’t eschew lengthy dialogue exchanges either.  And she captures little moments from the novel without resorting to narration (one I can think of that’s not in this chapter but is in the preview on Tor: Meg skipping over the creaking step).

      And that’s not even getting into the art itself.  I love Larson’s character designs, and just LOOK at her skill with facial expressions.  Look at the emotional range on Meg, Calvin, and Charles Wallace — and while Sandy, Dennys, Mom, and Principal Jenkins don’t get as much range, you know exactly how they’re feeling from looking at their faces, too.

      In short, this looks like a wonderful adaptation and I’m thrilled to see it.

      1.  I concur, and would add that adaptations are sometimes better.  If given a choice between reading The Godfather or seeing the film, of course you should see the film.  I certainly would not claim that this graphic novel adaptation of AWIT is “better” than the original but it is well worth reading if you’re a fan of L’Engle’s novel.

      2. @google-4c0e19b45649e4257f0c428ab35d5e45:disqus Thank you and I agree. I should have ensured what I sad was expressing a preference, not one size fits all. I do like comics and I do like graphic novels, but I don’t like either one more than I do a book. I’m 61 now and the books that caught my imagination when I was a boy might be too boring for today’s MTV youth. I remember tearing into each Tom Swift book, Treasure Island, and other’s full of image this I had to bring out. 

        I don’t disagree with your passion about this retelling, but I have to say I just don’t like it. I think it drops the little bits that made me fall in love with the original. To me it hands the story to the reader and allows this reader to cruise through the story. Again, personal opinion. 

        I did see the film and was OK with it, but my memories of a book I read in the early 1960s is what I carry with me.

        1. I wouldn’t read it instead of the novel, but it looks to me like it works well as a complement to it.

          And there HAVE been great comic book SF adaptations throughout the medium and genre’s history — the EC adaptations of Bradbury’s work, f’rinstance.

          (Ever hear that story?  Bradbury caught EC ripping off his work wholesale and, instead of lawyering up, sent them a letter saying “You seem to have forgotten to send me my check; I realize that it’s easy to lose track of things like that in busy office life, so just get it to me as soon as you can.”  William Gaines was smart enough to send Bradbury the check and after that all their Bradbury adaptations were officially sanctioned, properly credited, and gave Bradbury his cut.)

  3. I could never finish this book when I read it as a teenager.  I was very uncomfortable with its obviously Christian message. I find something perverse about having religious messages embedded in children’s literature.  Same reason I could not stand C. S. Lewis.

    1. Definitely one of those books you need to be exposed to as a child – it’s really weird to come to it as an adult. Having said that, I’d be totally over this if it had been illustrated by Gary Larson…

    2. See, I always liked L’engle’s approach to Christianity, for much the same reason fundamentalists hate it.  She’s a person who’s quite clearly grappling between her faith and the general nastiness of the actual text and history of the religion(s) — Many Waters is entirely about her trying to reconcile the casual misogyny of the story of the flood (Noah has six sons but no daughters; all of them are named but none of their wives are).

      Lewis, on the other hand, seemed pretty okay with the whole misogyny thing.  Even as a five-year-old I was really bothered by Susan not getting into Heaven with the rest of the family at the end of The Last Battle over something as trivial as liking makeup and boys.

      1. Can you imagine pitching the Narnia books to a publisher today?
        “And it ends how?”
        “All the children die in a train wreck while they’re still virgins!”

        1. I think the weirdest thing about seeing the Prince Caspian movie was coming away thinking that a tacked-on romance that wasn’t in the original book was an IMPROVEMENT.

  4. I think this adaptation is terrific and warmly recommend it to fans of the novel.  That having been said, I am going to keep it out of my young daughter’s hands until she’s read the novel herself.  One of the reasons I loved L’Engle’s novel so much is that its imagery is frequently more conceptual than visual, and it’s left to the reader to form mental pictures to go with the text.  I still remember vividly the way I envisioned Meg and Charles, even 30 years after I first read the novel.  Larson’s artistic choices in this adaptation are terrific and very thoughtful, but I’d like my daughter to see them as a point of comparison after she’s been through the novel herself first.

  5. Ah, how I loved this book when I was but a lad.  You know what I do NOT love, though?  A single RSS entry that takes up 20 vertical feet of my feed list.  Totally the opposite of what RSS is supposed to do – use the tag or w/e is supported, please.

    OTOH, Rapture Of The Nerds is great so far.  Very enjoyable.

    1. I prefer seeing the entirety of a post at a single click instead of having to click and open a separate browser to read it.  I can see how it’d be a pain in the ass on a phone, though.

  6. Ha — I’d forgotten entirely that Sandy (or is that Dennys?) uses the phrase “happy medium” early in the story.

    Anyhow.  Looks gorgeous; thanks for sharing.

  7. Loved the book. LOVED. I agree that nothing can approach the actual novel, as Disney sadly discovered when they released that awful TV movie. I have been looking for the 1960s/70s filmstrip of it for years. There are a few libraries in the US that still have it, but haven’t seen it on eBay yet.

  8. It’s pretty awesome, I have to say. Love the book, bought the graphic novel just to see, and have been blown away. Stripping the text to the dialogue concentrates the emotional power more than I could have imagined. My spouse–hugely skeptical and a fifth-grade teacher with serious standards around kid lit–stayed up late and finished it in one reading after I had read it last night. Amazing!

  9. love the frame with the little cloud over Meg as she walks in the front door and the frame where Fort goes “snerf” .. details details..  definitely getting this for the kids.

  10. Arrived yesterday. My son picked it up, couldn’t put it down! Now my daughter’s turn… Excellent!

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