In mid-December we went on a trip to Thailand and Malaysia, to see my dad and his wife on board their sailboat. We brought A Wrinkle in Time along, since N was lucky enough to get the book from her aunt and uncle just before our trip, and we were happily ensconced in that time-and-space adventure as our own adventures unfolded.
It was a wonderful trip, full of explorations of emerald caves and mangroves. We spotted colourful kingfishers and giant hornbills, and a typical Malaysian day was not complete without a visit from some mischievous, eyebrow-wiggling macaque monkeys.
Each night after a full day, we’d settle in to read about Meg Murry and her genius little brother Charles Wallace, and their complex mission of finding their father, a government scientist who disappeared while working on a top-secret project. N seemed very engaged. She particularly liked Meg, a bright girl who has trouble believing she isn’t dumb.
“How do you know I’m not dumb?” she asks her mother. “Isn’t it just because you love me?”
We were more than halfway through the book when we came upon a chapter called “The Man With the Red Eyes.” The title startled N so much that she didn’t want to continue. Not even the charming Mrs Which, Mrs Whatsit, and Mrs Who — supernatural beings who assist Meg in her quest — could draw her back to the story. It sits hidden in a top drawer now, because even the cover reminds her of “The Man with the Red Eyes.”
No matter — we will return to it one day, and hopefully to the rest of Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Quintet as well. Apparently L’Engle wrote Wrinkle in 1959, but had difficulty finding a publisher who would accept it, just as so many authors have — Dr Seuss and Beatrix Potter come to mind. A Wrinkle in Time went on to win the prestigious Newbery Medal, and needless to say found a huge following.
I can only assume N is not quite ready for such scary wrinkles. After we got back from our trip, she craved picture books. Each night she’d carefully select a new pile and we’d sit and go through them one by one, with a Bing Crosby Christmas CD playing over and over in the background, right up to late January (Christmas away meant she didn’t get enough of him this year). Some of the books we hadn’t read in years, and it was lovely to watch her expression change as she began to recall the story or the pictures. I’ve posted before about the theory that children move away from these books too early. This, to me, was proof that — for N at least — they still have enormous value. Comfort food, in a way, just like Bing.
Here are some of the books we’ve enjoyed over the last while:
Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr Seuss, in which “You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.”
There’s a Barnyard in My Bedroom by David Suzuki, in which a family discovers that “nature is everywhere.”
Manners by Aliki: “Some people have them; some people don’t.”
Mrs Armitage on Wheels by Quentin Blake, in which the ingenius Mrs A outfits her bicycle with everything it needs, and too much more.
I am not sleepy and I will not go to bed by Lauren Child, in which Lola is not sleepy and will not go to bed.
La Bella Magellona and the Little Cavalier by Oscar de Mejo, in which the giant, four-footed Magellona and her tiny friend learn how to love each other.
Rita and Whatsit by Jean-Philippe Arrou-Vignod, in which Rita unwraps a dog on her birthday.
Skippy Jon Jones by Judy Schachner, in which a Siamese cat discovers his inner chihuahua.
The Amazing Bone by William Steig, in which Pearl the pig befriends a talking bone.