Saturday, February 25, 2012

SYMPHONY SPACE CELEBRATES A WRINKLE IN TIME'S 50TH ANNIVERSARY

Symphony Space recently hosted a 50th Anniversary Celebration of A Wrinkle in Time.  What a treat to be amidst other people who were also fans of the children's book written by the late and fondly remembered Madeleine L'Engle.

The program opened with a humorous, well-crafted video which featured children as the actors and compressed the entire book into a 90-second format.  This opener was a perfect advertisement for the 90 Second Newbery competition.  What a fun challenge - to get a Newbery book into a 90 second format on video and then submit it to be considered for the film festival.  (Which, by the way, will be happening in December back at Symphony Space.  Stay tuned and get your tickets early!)

Betsy Bird, host of the event and author of the children's literature blog Fuse #8, welcomed the audience and shared "Meg Murray [the central character in the book] was my Harry Potter."  Right!  So good to have a children's chapter book in which the hero is female!

Charlotte L'Engle, Madeleine's granddaughter, took the mike.  She shared that Madeleine loved to be part of multigenerational parties.  She was the librarian and writer in residence at The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in the Morningside Heights neighborhood.

Charlotte explained that A Wrinkle in Time was the book that almost did not get published, with publishers thinking it was "much too hard for children."  On the contrary, explained Madelein's grand daughter, the book is too difficult for grownups!

Betsy Bird then introduced the all-star panel lineup:  Louis Lowry, author of The Giver and Count the Numbers; Katherine Patterson, author of Bridge to Terabithia; Rebecca Stead, author of When They Reach Us; and R.L. Stine, author of the Goosebump series.  Ms. Bird asked the panelists "If you  could ask Madeline one question, what would it be?"  One panelist replied "How do you write a book that affects children for the rest of their lives?"

There was then some debate over whether or not the Newbery Committee would pick A Wrinkle in Time today, given its religious references.  On another point of discussion, panelists talked about if A Wrinkle could be compared to The Hunger Games.

When the panel was over, actress Jane Curtin did a bang-up job of reading a passage from A Wrinkle. Following Ms. Curtin, a group of teenagers performed a dramatic reading of yet another section of the book.

Next, children's literature expert Leonard Marcus came before the audience and referred to people's memories of Ms. L'Engle as a gifted oral storyteller.  Also, he shared an interesting fact: Ms. L'Engle won The Newbery Award at the same time Ezra Jack Keats won The Caldecott Medal for A Snowy Day.  I'm looking forward to reading Mr. Marcus's book Listening for Madeleine, due to come out this fall.
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