Celebrating Wrinkle in Time with Writing by Léna Roy
A Wrinkle in Time is one of my favorite books, and not just because my grandmother is the author. It has always been a source of comfort and a map of hope. While writing our grandmother’s biography, Becoming Madeleine, Charlotte and I wanted to share the narrative of how she became the woman who wrote this life-changing book.
As well as being Madeleine’s granddaughter and a writer myself, I am passionate about teaching writing. I spend much of my time as a Regional Manager for Writopia Lab, a wonderful program where our mission is to spread joy, literacy, and critical thinking through creative writing to all kids and teens. I share my love of books of course, but I don’t “teach” books.
This is where I need YOU: wonderful teachers and librarians! Fifteen years ago I created a workshop based on A Wrinkle in Time, having participants explore themes of individuality, diversity and community in the novel. Originally I envisioned running this workshop with both kids and adults – the only prerequisite is an affinity for the book! Over the years it has evolved into a workshop entitled: A Wrinkle in (an Hour’s) Time, and I’ve done it mostly with 5th graders and older. Indeed, the next time I am running it I will be at the American Writers Museum in Chicago on Sunday, February 11th, and I have invited my Writopia Chicago counterpart to join me! This workshop can be done in both classroom and library settings, and I am more than happy to share a few of the discussion/ writing exercises from this workshop with you.
1: Ask class to think of WORDS that have to do with the book. Write them down on whiteboard
2: Discuss the characters, the archetypes. Who do you relate to?
Writing Exercise: Choose your fave character and a setting (home, Camazotz, Ixchiel, Happy Medium’s planet or even RIGHT HERE!) and write a short monologue in the first person.
3: Peer Pressure
“On Camazotz we are all happy because we are all alike. Differences create problems. You know that, don’t you, dear sister?”
“No,” Meg said.
“Oh, yes, you do. You’ve seen at home how true it is. You know that’s the reason you’re not happy at school. Because you’re different.”
“I’m different, and I’m happy.” Calvin said.
“But you pretend that you aren’t different.”
“I’m different, and I like being different.” Calvin’s voice was unnaturally loud.
“Maybe I don’t like being different,” Meg said, “but I don’t want to be like everybody else either.” P.155
“We hold these truths to be self-evident!” she shouted,
‘that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
“But that’s exactly what we have on Camazotz. Complete equality. Everybody exactly alike.”
For a moment her brain reeled with confusion. Then came a moment of blazing truth. “No!” she cried triumphantly. “Like and equal are not the same thing at all!” p177
Writing exercise: write a few words about peer pressure, and what that has been like for you.
5: The Sonnet: Freedom in Structure
“If we knew ahead of time what was going to happen we’d be – we’d be like the people on Camazotz with no lives of our own, with everything all planned and done for us. How can I explain it to you? Oh, I know. In your language you have a form of poetry called the sonnet. . . it is a very strict form of poetry, is it not?”
“There are fourteen lines, I believe, all in iambic pentameter. That’s a very strict rhythm or meter, yes?”
“Yes.” Calvin nodded.
“And each line has to end with a rigid rhyme pattern. And if the poet does not do it exactly this way, it is not a sonnet, is it?”
“But within this strict form the poet has complete freedom to say whatever he wants, doesn’t he?”
“You mean you’re comparing our lives to a sonnet? A strict form, but freedom within it?”
“Yes.” Mrs. Whatsit said. “You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you.” P.219
Writing exercise: use all of the words that we’ve written in the exercises today and arrange them into a poem, or any way that has meaning for you. How does your own writing lighten the darkness? How does your own creativity bring meaning to your life?
My sister and I are thrilled to be able to share our love for our grandmother through Becoming Madeleine! We hope that it will deepen her readers’ connection to her, and for readers of A Wrinkle in Time in particular, provide a tool for young readers to examine her work.
Léna Roy works with young writers in Westchester and Connecticut as the Regional Manager for Writopia Lab. She is also the author of the young adult novel, Edges. She lives in New York.