We are so saddened to hear that one of our most beloved authors, Madeleine L’Engle has died.  She died last Thursday, September 6, at the age of 88.  Madeleine L’Engle was the author of over 60 books, both children’s and adult, fiction and nonfiction. jacket.jpg Her most famous book, A Wrinkle in Time won the Newbery Award as best children’s book of the year in 1963.  That book has sold over 6 million copies. 

Douglas Martin writing in The New York Times  says, “After the opening, “Wrinkle,” quite literally, takes off. Meg Murray, with help from her psychic baby brother, uses time travel and extrasensory perception to rescue her father, a gifted scientist, from a planet controlled by the Dark Thing. She does so through the power of love.

The book used concepts that Ms. L’Engle said she had plucked from Einstein’s theory of relativity and Planck’s quantum theory, almost flaunting her frequent assertion that children’s literature is literature too difficult for adults to understand.”  

In the journal, Horn Book, she once said of A Wrinkle in Time, “I can’t possibly tell you how I came to write it.  It was simply a book I had to write.  I had no choice. And it was only after it was written that I realized some of what it meant.”  (Something About the Author, v.128, p. 153.)

Ms. L’Engle explored themes of life, death, redemption and the clash of good and evil in her many novels including A Ring of Endless Light.  In this novel, 15 year old Vicky Austin grapples with the impending death of her beloved grandfather who is dying of leukemia.

As a young children’s librarian in 1982, I read and loved this book and was fortunate to buy a copy from an exhibits booth at a conference of the American Library Association.  I waited in a very long line to have it signed by the author.   Towards the end of the book, Vicky’s grandfather counsels her “Vicky, this is my charge to you. You are to be a light bearer.  You are to choose the light.”  When Madeleine L’Engle signed my copy of the book, she wrote to me “Be a light bearer — Madeleine L’Engle.”

I have looked back at that signature often in my life and its message has been a kind and steadying influence.  Her books are a lighthouse for young and old alike, and we are so lucky she gave them to us. The Library currently has her books on display in memory and tribute to this great author. 

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