The Annual Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks August 11-12, 2017

August 7, 2017 | None Yet - Post a Comment

A brief message from Charlotte, Madeleine’s granddaughter.

Dear Ones,

The Perseid meteor shower occurs annually in August when the earth crosses the tail of the Swift-Tuttle comet. Anywhere from 60 to 150 shooting stars an hour are visible during the peak nights in August. I’m often up at Crosswicks at some point during the showers, and I always try to stay up late and hope to see the shooting stars. I usually don’t see many. It’s a running joke in my family that as they shout, “Oh, there’s one!” I wail “Where?” and swivel my head this way and that. But just being able to sit outside on a summer evening and take in a vast expanse of sky and stars is wonderful. I always think of my grandmother, Madeleine L’Engle, whenever I look up at night. For her, stars were “an icon of creation,” meaning that they helped her trust in God’s love and the significance of an interconnected universe.

“If I’m confused, or upset, or angry, if I can go out and look at the stars I’ll almost always get back a sense of proportion. It’s not that they make me feel insignificant; it’s the very opposite; they make me feel that everything matters, be it ever so small, and that there’s meaning to life even when it seems most meaningless.” A Ring of Endless Light

Her first memory was of being woken up and taken outside to look at the stars, and her awe and joy at that vision was something that never left her. She wrote about them in her first novel, A Small Rain, and the impact of her first view of stars is embedded some way in every book since. Stars and their perspective-giving quality feature prominently in several Austin Family books, and in her non-fiction as well. And of course, in A Wrinkle in Time, beloved Mrs Whatsit turns out to have been a star who overcame the darkness if only for a little while.

Suddenly there was a great burst of light through the Darkness.The light spread out and where it touched the Darkness the Darkness disappeared.The light spread until the patch of Dark Thing had vanished, and there was only a gentle shining, and through the shining came the stars, clear and pure. Then, slowly, the shining dwindled until it, too, was gone, and there was nothing but stars and starlight. No shadows. No fear. Only the stars and the clear darkness of space, quite different from the fearful darkness of the Thing.
“You see!” the Medium cried, smiling happily. “It can be overcome! It is being overcome all the time!”
A Wrinkle in Time

My grandmother lamented decades ago that it was getting harder and harder to see the stars. Even from Crosswicks the view has changed: towns are bigger, with more light pollution, and the old star-watching rock reclaimed by forest. (A brief history of the star-watching rocks is for another day.) The discoloration of inky blue-black caused by the cloudy swath of the milky way is more faint now, too. But the stars are there, even when we can’t see them. It reminds me of this exchange between mother and daughter in A Wrinkle in Time:

“Do you think things always have an explanation?
“Yes. I believe that they do. But I think that with our human limitations we’re not always able to understand the explanations. But you see, Meg, just because we don’t understand doesn’t mean that the explanation doesn’t exist.”
A Wrinkle in Time

So, when you can, look up and contemplate the night sky, even if the stars aren’t full visible from your particular vantage point. Take a moment and, like Vicky Austin, regain your sense of proportion and renew the thought that your choices and actions matter.

Charlotte Jones Voiklis
New York City
August 2017

Biography of Madeleine L’Engle

March 24, 2017 | Comments Off on Biography of Madeleine L’Engle

Dear Ones,

Madeleine’s granddaughters Léna and Charlotte sent the final draft of their biography to copyediting this week! It will spend about 9 months in production, and you can look for Becoming Madeleine L’Engle: A Biography by her Granddaughters (FSG) in February 2018!

“I had a vile time in lessons today. In Latin. I hadn’t heard something Holmes said, and made a guess at the answers. She blew up and busted, then, and said she had never known anybody take in as little as Hazel and me etc. etc. Then I lost my temper too because I will not be called stupid, and stuck out my jaw and scowled at my book for the rest of the lesson.”
— February 16, 1933, journal entry

Granddaughter Charlotte on Meg, Vicky, and why readers respond

February 23, 2017 | Comments Off on Granddaughter Charlotte on Meg, Vicky, and why readers respond

My grandmother, Madeleine L’Engle, wrote the classic A Wrinkle in Time and more than sixty other books. When I talk to her readers, their intensity often surprises me. “Her books saved my life,” or “I’ve read A Wrinkle in Time every year since fifth grade,” or “I wrote to her when my father died and I still have her response.” What is it about her work that continues to inspire and delight, more than seventy years since she published her first novel?

Click here to read the article in full

Parent-Child Book Club Guide to A Wrinkle in Time

February 16, 2017 | Comments Off on Parent-Child Book Club Guide to A Wrinkle in Time

Sarah Wilson, a reader and mom in Nashville, TN recently told us of her experience reading A Wrinkle in Time with her Parent-Child Book Club. She’s generously allowed us to share her this guide for others who might want to do the same. Thanks, Sarah!

“Only a fool is not afraid.” –- Mrs. Whatsit, A Wrinkle in Time

For the past three years, my oldest daughter (10) and I have been participating in a parent/child book club. Some of the books we have read together include Clementine by Sara Pennypacker, Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo, Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary and Wonder by R.J. Palacio. This September, as she began middle school (5th grade in Nashville), she and her five book club friends devoured Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. The girls related to the themes and characters, loved talking about time travel and the difference between science fiction and fantasy, and also how they can seek the strong attributes of Meg and her fellow explorers in their own lives. Our discussions also revealed that they were indeed afraid of things –- as we all are, lest we be fools — but perhaps Meg and Charles Wallace and Calvin gave them a bit of insight into the benefits of delving into the unknown and facing their fears.

We discovered that A Wrinkle in Time is a fantastic story for a parent-child book group, a family read, a classroom unit or an adult book club too. Our bi-monthly book meet-up always includes snacks related to the book, a book-related discussion followed by an art/craft activity or game. Here are some ideas on how we pulled off an epic A Wrinkle in Time book club meeting:

Best For: Adults and children ages 9-14 (5-8 grade)

Timing: We gave all of the girls and their parents two months to read the book. Coincidentally, we planned our discussion at the beginning of National Banned Book Week (the last week of September) and since A Wrinkle in Time is counted among banned books in the U.S., we included a banned books discussion (why do you think books are banned? What are your views on banning books? Why do you think A Wrinkle in Time was banned in some communities?)

Book Inspired snacks – Every member of our book club contributes snacks that most often apply to the book (sometimes a little abstract – I think the girls have managed to make Oreos fit into every book club meeting to date). Here are some A Wrinkle in Time snacks we enjoyed:

• Rice Krispy Treat Brains
• Liverwurst with cream cheese sandwiches
• Jam with cream cheese sandwiches
• Hot chocolate
• Oreos (representing the planets and moons)

Book Discussion Questions – There are many resources online and at your library with questions for a rich A Wrinkle In Time discussion based on themes, age, etc. Here are some of the questions we discussed with our group:
• How does Meg feel about her father and his work?
• Imagine living in a community that mistrusts and resents you. What is it like for the Murrys to live in a community that doesn’t understand them?
• How is Charles Wallace like Meg? How is he different?
• How would you describe tesseracting? Would you want to do it?
• If you had the opportunity to time travel, would you? If you could choose the time, what time period would you travel to? The past? The future? Where would you travel?
• What are Meg’s faults? How do they help her in the end?
• Meg experiences various types of love throughout her adventure. How does her understanding of love develop over the course of the novel?
• Who is the most courageous character, in your opinion? Explain.
• Would you define this story as fantasy or science fiction? What are the differences between these two genres?
• What is the difference between fate and free will? Which do you support?

Book related activities: Below are several activities we considered when planning out book club. Each idea correlates to a quote from the book that can be applied to a discussion about the project and book:

Create a board game – “You see though we travel together, we travel alone.”
• Materials needed: poster board or a painted game board, markers or paint pens, game pieces, a die, cardstock for cards.
• To create A Wrinkle in Time board game, consider using an old board and painting it white (or use poster board). Establish the game pieces – perhaps each game piece represents a traveling character, but there are no teams. Draw a path on the board. Each piece will travel the same path, but each alone. Create three sets of cards – one set include successes from the story (i.e. Mrs. Who lends you her spectacles – Move forward 2 spaces; Your ability to love saves the day – Move forward 3 spaces) that would move their piece ahead 1-3 spaces, another set of cards includes various setbacks throughout the novel (i.e. You momentarily land on a 2-dimensional planet – move back 2 spaces; you bounce a ball out of rhythm – move back 3 spaces), sending them back 1-3 spaces. And finally a stack of question cards which include a question from the book that had to be answered correctly to roll the dice again (i.e. What dimension is the tesseract? What is the first line of the book?). The winner was the first to make it home.

Create your own planet – “They are very young. And on their earth, as they call it, they never communicate with other planets. They revolve about all alone in space.” “Oh,” the thin beast said. “Aren’t they lonely?”
• Materials needed: a paper mache ball or a large piece of paper, markers or paint, construction paper, various materials to decorate the planet.
• Either as individuals, pairs or small groups allow students (and parents) to create a planet. Include the creatures that reside on the planet, if the darkness hovers over the planet, where the planet is located. What is the name of the planet? Does it have moons, stars or magical creatures? Is it good or evil? Allow the students to present their planet to the group.

Write a short story beginning with “It was a dark and stormy night…”
• Materials needed: Pen and paper
• The opening sentence of Edward George Bulwer-Lytton’s novel Paul Clifford, published in 1830, begins with the phrase: “It was a dark and stormy night….” Often considered the worst opening line in literature, writers, including the beagle Snoopy, have attempted in jest to begin their stories with the same line. When Madeleine L’Engle’s children would ask her to tell a story, she would always begin with “It was a dark and stormy night….” So it was no surprise that she would use it to begin her novel and send you on the journey to A Wrinkle in Time. Allow students to write their own short story, or essay beginning with “It was a dark and stormy night…”

Write a sonnet, exquisite corpse style – “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.”
• Materials needed: Paper and pen.
• The sonnet has strict rules. Fourteen lines of iambic pentameter, but with that form, the poet can say whatever he wants to. Explain the sonnet form to the group, then have each student write one line and fold the paper so that the next person cannot see what the previous person wrote. Once finished, read the entire poem aloud.

Blindfold Guessing Game – “We do not know what things look like. We know what things are like. It must be a very limiting thing, this seeing.”
• Materials needed: A blindfold, various objects around the house (i.e. a piece of fruit, a book, a ball)
• Give a blindfolded participant an object that they have to describe to the others who also don’t know what the object is. Rotate around the group.

Write what will happen next – “I don’t understand it any more than you do, but one thing I’ve learned is that you don’t have to understand things for them to be.”
• Materials needed: pen and paper
• The quest to save Meg’s father and subsequently Charles Wallace was a success, but the Dark Thing still looms heavily over Earth. What will happen next? Will the Dark Thing ever be defeated? Try your hand in writing a sequel!

Build a tesseract – “Speaking of ways, pet, by the way, there is such thing as a tesseract.”
• Materials needed: Found objects and various craft supplies.
• Use found objects, craft supplies and your imagination to create your own version of a tesseract. Share your creations with the group.

What to read next: Did you love A Wrinkle in Time as much as we did? Here are some suggestions on what to read next:
The Time Quintet by Madeleine L’Engle:
A Wind in the Door
A Swiftly Tilting Planet
Many Waters
An Acceptable Time
When You Reach Me, Rebecca Stead
The Giver, Louis Lowry
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis
The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster

Sarah Wilson is a freelance writer and editor in Nashville, TN. As a former high school English teacher and now the mother of 3 girls, Sarah has always loved L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time for its adventure, strong female protagonist and the themes of family and love. Sarah is the Managing Editor at and recently started her own family travel website (no time travel…yet). She avidly reads all genres of books but especially loves young adult fiction and middle grade books. When she’s not writing, reading or wrangling little girls, you may just find her working on her own tesseract!

Granddaughter Charlotte on Madeleine and Story

January 25, 2017 | Comments Off on Granddaughter Charlotte on Madeleine and Story


“Some of my earliest memories are of resting comfortably on my grandmother’s lap, absorbed in the stories she told. I grew up on those stories — both “made up” stories and “true” stories about family, passed down from her mother and father and grandparents — and now understand that they were my first exposure to the various ways people live and love and make their way in the world. Her stories grew from her own exploration of a problem or conflict or question present in her own life. At the time I had no idea her explorations served larger audiences. She described her classic novel, A Wrinkle in Time, as her way of reconciling the pain and suffering in the world with her faith in a loving creator.”

To read the whole piece, click here.

Birthday Sweepstakes

November 22, 2016 | Comments Off on Birthday Sweepstakes


In honor of Madeleine’s Birthday on November 29, Macmillan Children’s is offering several chances to win some L’Engle books! Grand Prize is a complete L’Engle Library (of her YA and MG titles), including a slipcovered Time Quintet special edition.

Click here to enter!

Granddaughters to write a biography

November 8, 2016 | 2 Comments

Charlotte, Madeleine, and Lena (L to R). ca. 1976.

Charlotte, Madeleine, and Lena (L to R). ca. 1976.

From Publisher’s Marketplace, November 7, 2016

Children’s: Middle grade
L’Engle’s granddaughters, Charlotte Jones Voiklis and Lena Roy’s BECOMING MADELEINE L’ENGLE, a biography of the Newbery Award-winning author of A WRINKLE IN TIME and over 60 other books for children and adults, to Margaret Ferguson at Margaret Ferguson Books, for publication in Winter 2018, by Lisa Erbach Vance at the Aaron Priest Literary Agency (NA).

Léna and Charlotte interview each other about the biography, the upcoming film adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, and more.

LR: Charlotte, we are having such a good time working together on this biography. How did we get here?
CJV: Laurie Lane, a poet and former assistant to Gran, planted the seed during a visit. She thought a picture book biography would be wonderful. Around the same time I was going through some uncataloged correspondence that turned out to be a remarkably complete set of letters from Gran to her mother from 1937 through 1945. It was the period in her life that most fascinated us as children — the time between her graduating from college and her marriage — and reading it answered a lot of questions. But it also brought up new ones!
LR: Yes! I remember imagining her energetically writing her first novel, The Small Rain, while working as an understudy and assistant stage manager…
CJV: FSG was interested in publishing a middle-grade biography of Madeleine L’Engle and asked me, as her executor, if there was anyone I would like to see write it, and of course I immediately thought of you. You’re a wonderful writer, an amazing teacher, and know middle-grade and young adult readers so well.
LR: Why thank you Charlotte! But I couldn’t imagine writing anything about Gran without you and I jumped at the chance to collaborate on this project together – we were both so close to her and as kids we had the same fascination with her, even as we had different relationships with her as we grew up. I related to her as an insecure and seeking artist, and you are so wickedly bright —
CJV: The mutual admiration society —
LR: — she made you her literary executor. I convinced you that we both would bring very important skills to the project, and that it would mean so much to Gran if we honored her in this way together.
CJV: And that was the final twist of the arm! A present for her 100th birthday! .
LR: You felt strongly that the book should start with her abandonment at a Swiss boarding school at age 11, so my first attempt was to novelize this scene to get into her head…
CJV: And even though nothing like that is in this book, it did help us imagine her voice.
LR: It is a biography, after all, and not fiction! But now something like that is stirring in my mind…
CJV: And things really started to flow after that, in ways I couldn’t have imagined.
LR: We read and read and read, becoming detectives, mining Gran’s memoirs, journals, letters for a glimpse into how she became who she was.
CJV: It felt sacred, reading those letters and journals.
LR: It did. Do you think we could have done this before now?
CJV: I really don’t – after her death in 2007, we needed time to grieve and recalibrate.
LR: All of our talks over the years about what she meant to us and others laid the groundwork, bringing us so much joy in writing this, in listening to her voice, her legacy.
CJV: The time was right.
LR: And then the movie news…
CJV: Yes, the movie news! Isn’t it exciting!
LR: We’ve only been waiting forty years! I remember the day that we found out that it would be made into a movie. It was November 1979, and Gum (our grandfather) had taken us to the Planetarium or something. When we got back to the apartment, Gran was finishing up a meeting with Norman Lear and Catherine Hand, who were interested in producing a movie.
CJV: Yes, Catherine had read and fell in love with the book when it first came out and had dreamed of making it into a movie. It didn’t happen then, though there were many, many near misses, including the made-for-television version. It’s really happening now, though, and I know you and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the way things are unfolding.
LR: I know that the movie will be different from the book, that it’s a different way of telling the story.
CJV: And Jennifer Lee [screenwriter] and Ava DuVernay [director] know how to tell a good story.
LR: I trust them to tell an amazing story.
CJV: I’m reminded that for Gran, she was honored and humbled when people responded to her work with their own creativity. And she always said that she understood that her books have a life of their own, quite apart from her. What a privilege to inspire other artists! As well as all of the readers over more than 50 years.
LR: Gran inspired and continues to inspire me as a teacher. We all have stories to tell, as much as we crave stories. Writing is an important tool for people to find their voice. So many people come to a workshop looking for the right answers, or for a formula that will help them get by. There is no formula!
CJV: No formulas, but there are forms: a sonnet, for instance.
LR: Well said Mrs Whatsit!

To come later in the month of November: Madeleine’s birthday is November 29, and there will be a special gift for newsletter subscribers.

Can you tell us what A Wrinkle in Time means to you?

October 2, 2016 | Comments Off on Can you tell us what A Wrinkle in Time means to you?


We asked people what they thought A Wrinkle in Time is about. It means so many things to so many people, and with the movie coming out, we were curious to know: what is the book about, and what does it mean to you? Check out the conversation on Facebook (and you can leave your comments here, as well)!

Still Searching the Universe for Charles Wallace!

September 24, 2016 | Comments Off on Still Searching the Universe for Charles Wallace!

3kidsDear Ones,
They are still looking for the right Charles Wallace! If you know of anyone who might be right for this role, encourage them to send in their photo and resume. And if you know people who know people (e.g. acting teachers, drama coaches, etc.) encourage them to spread the word. He’s out there somewhere!

A DISNEY Distributed Feature Film
Directed by Ava DuVernay
Charles Wallace / 5 – 9 years old male (including twins)
to play a character who is Mixed-Race, (African American/Caucasian), and Latino. Extremely intelligent, very articulate, he feels like a well-read college professor trapped in the body of a young child. Despite his age, he has a strong, old soul–a “warrior” spirit”.

New Edition of Walking on Water Available October 11, 2016!

September 20, 2016 | Comments Off on New Edition of Walking on Water Available October 11, 2016!


A new edition of Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art is available for pre-order now (shipping October 11). With an introduction by Sara Zarr.

“The joyful acceptance that readers create my books along with me and share their creation in their letters, helps me to grow, to be more daring than I would be able to otherwise. In trying to share what I believe, I am helped to discover what I do, in fact, believe, which is often more than I realize. I am given hope that I will remember how to walk across the water.”