Book Recommendation: A Wrinkle in Time

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We read “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle with the three smallest kids, and they absolutely loved it. I remember liking it myself as a child, but I couldn’t remember actually reading it. We got Ashton the book for Christmas last year, but it is a little hard for him to read on his own, so we made it a family book. Just like we read “The Thief of Always,” it became our nightly routine of snuggle story time before bed. I enjoyed listening to Lindsay read it just as much as the kids I think.

The story is about a high-school girl named Meg, who comes across as fairly insecure yet loving in the beginning of the story, and grows in to a confident young woman by the end. Meg, her gifted brother Charles, and their friend Calvin embark on a journey through space and time to save Meg and Charles’ father, who had been missing for over a year. The journey is facilitated by a few beings, namely Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which, who all appear as humans on earth, but reveal themselves to be so much more once they lead the kids on their journey.

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The book explores the idea of time travel, the existence of other beings who are much wiser and older than humans, and of course self discovery. While every time traveling child in the book is experiencing their own journey of self-discovery and growth, they are also reminded of other people’s strengths and the need to work as a team.

The only thing in the book that might be a deal breaker for some is the obvious Christian undertones. There is reference to God and Jesus and numerous symbolic scenes, although religion is actually never made implicit. It is interesting though, as many references are made by creatures or stars who have been around longer than humans, and thus seem like a contradiction to Christian literature. It’s a unique intermingling of Christianity and Quantum Physics, and thus has received criticism from both sides for either being too Christian, or anti-Christian. It seems to me that the reader will do with it what they want, and although there is direct reference to God and Jesus, there is also opportunity to explain differences in beliefs and room for exception. Our family is full of agnostics, so it did not derail our reading, but allowed us room for conversation.
I highly recommend this book to read with children, definitely ages 7 – 10, but maybe even younger. The vocabulary might be challenging for a child to read on their own, but when read as a family, it allowed opportunity to also have a vocabulary lesson every chapter or so. The book is part of a quintet, so I’m hoping we’ll read another one of the books… maybe “A Wind in the Door,” or “A Swiftly Tilting Planet.” We’ll see.

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Book Recommendation: The Thief of Always

Every night we read as a family. Lindsay is the designated reader, we all gather on our large king sized bed, and snuggle in to listen. We adults pick books that we loved as children and that may be a little beyond the children’s reading level, or even slightly out of their comprehension level. Our goal is to help them love reading, by sharing with them the stories that made us love reading. This family reading routine gives us an opportunity to decompress the day and just enjoy something together. One of the books we read this past summer was “The Thief of Always” by Clive Barker.

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The book begins by telling the story of a 10 year old boy, Harvey Swick, who is in the depths of boredom. It’s February, and poor Harvey doesn’t want to go to school or really do anything for that matter, until a curious man in black named Rictus flies through Harvey’s window, promising him fun and friends beyond his wildest dreams. The following day, Rictus, with his wide sharp toothed grin, leads Harvey to a holiday house where all the magic begins. It is everything Rictus promised.

While at the holiday house, Harvey experiences spring, summer, autumn, and winter each and every day. Spring flowers in the morning, summer in the afternoon, Halloween in the evening, and winter carrying on in to the night, with Christmas and Thanksgiving before bed. Everything he could ever dream up was gifted to him, every meal he desired was prepared for him, and every wish he made was granted. Like most things that seem too good to be true, the holiday house was certainly that. Mr. Hood, who is a main character that we don’t get to meet until three quarters of the way in the book, runs the house and seems to have a tight grip on everything and everyone who occupies it. Once Harvey can see past all the magic, he discovers what the house is really made of… and it’s not pretty.

What did it matter, anyway, he thought, whether this was a real place or a dream? It felt real, and that was all that mattered. 
― Clive Barker, The Thief of Always 

This dark fable inspires you to think about what you wish for, and if you really want that wish to come true. And at what cost. It is a book about adventure, friends, time, and personal strength. It is about the childhood that many take for granted, only to find that it passes by far too quickly and can never be gotten back. In “The Thief of Always” though, anything is possible, and once Harvey discovers what is really happening, he is prepared to get his boring old life back. yathiefsm

We all loved this book, and the children never wanted to stop reading. It held everyone’s interest, and the drawings throughout the book were a nice touch. It was a good level of scary for the kids, and I would definitely recommend it as a book for children and adults.