In her monthly column, YA of Yore, Frankie Thomas takes a second look at the books that defined a generation.
The date December 16 is seared into my brain. Every time I see it on a calendar I snap to attention, thinking, just for a second, That’s the big day! This is a complete neurological accident. There is nothing significant about December 16, except that in 1996 I saw it on a flier in the lobby of my elementary school. The flier announced that Madeleine L’Engle, the Newbery-winning author of A Wrinkle in Time, would be visiting my school for a book-signing event.
Madeleine L’Engle. I was going to meet her.
I was nine years old, too young to keep a calendar or manage my own schedule or do much of anything except read. I stood in the crowded lobby and read the date over and over and over, burning it into myself so I’d never forget: December 16. December 16. Madeleine L’Engle is coming on December 16.
To me, she was so much more than the author of A Wrinkle in Time. In fact, I felt about A Wrinkle in Time the way Beach Boys superfans feel about “Surfin’ USA”: it was beginner stuff. I was a L’Engle completist, or as much of a completist as was possible for a nine year old in the pre-internet era. If a book of hers was still in print, I owned it and had read it multiple times. If it was out of print, like the underrated Prelude, I had borrowed it from the library. I had also borrowed an authorized children’s biography of L’Engle herself, so I knew she’d been a writer even as a child. That excited me. We were the same. Read More