Just a few hours ago I was in Borders Books, browsing when I noticed a display of Madeleine L'Engle's books. The covers were all new re-designs and I smiled because even though I've read nearly all her books many times over and own them, I was tempted to buy them with the new covers. Then my eyes drifted to the sign over them: Remembering Madeleine L'Engle 1919-2007.
My heart stopped just for a moment.
I grabbed the nearest salesperson and asked, "When did she die?" The fact that he didn't flinch and wasn't puzzled by the sadness on my face comforted me. "It was earlier this week," he said. I stood there in the middle of this giant bookstore with a big hole in my heart.
For a split second I was back at St Elizabeth's in the Bronx. Sixth grade. A read aloud that first part of the year. I can't remember who my teacher was. Probably a nun. But I do remember what she read to us: A Wrinkle In Time. It was the first time a book ever made me think about good and evil in real ways, ways I could understand. That book was written for kids but it never talked down to them. A Wrinkle In Time became part of my identity and helped define how I saw my world. It gave me strength, showed me wisdom and helped me find courage when I needed it. My childhood was no walk in the park. This book helped me survive it and her other books gave me comfort and a safe place to stay when I was scared or lonely. Tomorrow when I see my 5th graders, I'll come with A Wrinkle In Time in my hand. I'll tell them about Madeleine L'Engle and then, I'll start to read.