Becoming Madeleine Book Launch Information

Becoming Madeleine by Lena Roy & Charlotte Jones Voiklis

Becoming Madeleine by Lena Roy & Charlotte Jones Voiklis

Dear Ones,

When we began writing Becoming Madeleine: A Biography of the Author of A Wrinkle in Time by Her Granddaughters, we didn’t know 2018 was going to be so full of good L’Engle news, and now the book and the film adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time are just a few weeks apart.

We wanted to do something special for her 100th birthday.

The book we wrote is full of personal letters and journal entries, family photographs and memorabilia. It is also full of our love for her, and we’re so happy to share it with you. While it’s marketed for readers in the middle grades, we are our grandmother’s granddaughters, who said “if it’s not good enough for adults, it’s not good enough for children,” and so we think that readers of all ages will enjoy it.

If you can join us at one of the events in New YorkChicago, or DC, please do! Details are below. And stay tuned for other events or media pieces about this book and Madeleine.


Charlotte and Léna

Sweepstakes to Celebrate Madeleine’s Birthday!

“The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.” ― Madeleine L’Engle

There’s still time to enter Macmillan’s giveaway celebrating Madeleine L’Engle’s birthday! Enter by 12/25 to win a #WrinkleInTime movie poster, a hardcover of the movie edition, AND an advance copy of BECOMING MADELEINE.

Click here. Sorry, US and Canada only.




Granddaughter Léna Roy on listening as a creative act

“Because we fail to listen to people’s stories, we are becoming a fragmented human race.”
— Madeleine L’Engle, Sold into Egypt: Journeys Into Being Human

Listening is a creative act: it takes great imagination to be able to step into someone else’s world, into their truth. We not only need stories to survive, we need witnesses. Listening to someone else’s story is a form of intimacy, of generosity, of connecting, of piecing our own fragments back together.

November brings not only Thanksgiving, but Gran’s birthday. She would have been 99 this November 29th,  so at this time of the year I look to her words and her legacy for inspiration.

I miss her — she continues to be my touchstone because her deep concern for humanity is palpable in every piece she ever wrote.  She calls on us to engage empathetically as active listeners, to have a willing suspension of disbelief in our communication with others who are different from us. My own concerns mirror hers: they lie in the way people treat each other, and that nobody seems to be listening. We get stuck in our own “stories”, not questioning our attitudes or using our imaginations.

Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth.
— Madeleine L’Engle, The Rock that is Higher: Story as Truth

Listening is a form of responding, and I am grateful that I get to “respond” by working with children and teens in creative writing workshops through Writopia Lab. Every day of the week I am surrounded by amazing kids looking for truth and meaning through their writing — fiction, plays, poetry, and creative nonfiction. I’m grateful that our creativity feeds off of each other. I’m grateful for our reverence for imagination, and for co-creating  a space where kids feel safe to ask questions of each other and to explore both their visions and demons.

My grandmother wrote every day — at home, on the subway, in hotels, on airplanes. I am not as disciplined in my writing as she was. I spend much more of my time working with kids and teens, but that’s what feeds my soul the most — the creative aspect of active listening, of full engagement. I get to guide  kids to find their own power through the discovery that creative writing facilitates. I know they will turn into empathic adults who will keep their curiosity about the world and treat others the way they would like to be treated. They are learning how to listen – to the characters in their stories and to their peers in workshop. They are learning how to listen to their higher selves.

And I am learning — and listening —  too.

Léna Roy works with young writers in Westchester, NY and Connecticut as the regional manager of Writopia Lab. With her sister Charlotte Jones Voiklis she wrote Becoming Madeleine: A Biography of the Author of A Wrinkle in Time by her Granddaughters, which will be published in February 2018 by FSG. She is also the author of the young adult novel Edges.

A list of pet names, and 30 new editions and formats

The Other Dog - Madeleine L'Engle

Touché, Coquey, Brillig, Chess, Sputnik, Daisy, Thomas, Narcissus (Cissie), Echo, Heidi, Oliver, Manchester Guardian (Gardie), Letitia, Hans Sachs and Percy (canaries), Tyrrell, Timothy, Titus, Tybalt, Tesseract, Thucydides, Sheats and Kelley, Dr. Charlotte Tyler (Doc), Antinouis (Tino), Tatiana.

These are the names of some of the L’Engle/Franklin family pets over the years (dogs in italics). I was writing a short piece to accompany the re-issue of The Other Dog (2001, Chronicle Books) and, with the help of my mother, came up with the list. The Other Dog is a picture book Madeleine wrote shortly after my mother was born, but which, like many things she wrote during that time, was never published. The story is narrated by her dog, a miniature French poodle named Touché, who has to make room for a new member of the family.

This re-issue (scheduled for March 2018) is one of several of Madeleine’s books that have seen new editions or formats in the past year. Last autumn, Open Road began releasing her adult fiction and memoir as ebooks for the first time, and four of those thirteen titles are now also in print again. Convergent Press put out beautiful paperback and ebook editions of four of her nonfiction books, with other titles to come next year. Next year will also see the release of twenty-one titles as audio books for the first time.

The film release of A Wrinkle in Time in March 2018 will bring two different movie-tie-in editions, with a wonderful new introduction by the film’s director, Ava DuVernay, as well as a “making of” book about the film. There will be a small chapter book called Intergalactic P.S. 3, with illustrations by Hope Larson (who did the A Wrinkle in Time graphic novel). It’s a story that was the basis for A Wind in the Door. And Becoming Madeleine, a biography aimed at middle-grade readers (and we think there’s lots to interest other readers as well!) that I wrote with my sister Léna Roy is also coming out in February 2018. Léna and I look forward to talking more about those last two in the coming months. In the meantime, tesser well!


Granddaughter Léna Roy on writing a biography with her sister

Becoming Madeleine

My grandmother, Madeleine L’Engle, has always been a source of inspiration for me — from my own writing, to my obsession with the metaphysical, and to my teaching and mentoring. I’d always wanted to tell her story, and had fooled around with different ways of telling it – (at the end of her life I was writing my own version of The Summer of the Great-Grandmother) but I knew I needed my sister Charlotte to help me write it. She didn’t want to, thinking that we were too close to the subject. And perhaps she was right: Gran had become her ethereal self, while here on earth grief and perspective took a long time to settle.

Yet here we are, ten years after her death on September 6th, announcing the cover reveal for our book, Becoming Madeleine. How did that happen?

Two years ago we started thinking about her hundredth birthday, coming up in November of 2018. She LOVED celebrating birthdays. We wanted to give her a big tribute to honor her. But what to do? A grand party? The release of thousands of doves, or balloons? A constellation in the heavens made in her honor?

“Some kind of biography?” I suggested, ever hopeful.

Charlotte hesitated. “Maybe… What about a picture book? It can open with Gan’s first memory of being woken up and taken outside to look at the stars.”

The publisher, though, was interested in a biography aimed at readers who had loved A Wrinkle in Time.

“We can do this,” I whispered. “It should be us.”

“A ‘Madeleine L’Engle was born…’ narrative?” Charlotte asked. “Let someone else write it.”

“Someone else might, at some point! But that doesn’t mean we can’t write one too – and we have such a unique relationship — it will be like a love letter to her.”

I kept whispering. Charlotte kept resisting. She worried that the more scholarly distance required would change our relationship with our grandmother. Besides, the work involved in carefully looking at old letters and journals was daunting. So much material! And while collaborating on a project sounded like fun, there could be pitfalls. “But if not us,” I asked, “who?”

“Okay,” Charlotte said, finally giving in (after listening to “Hamilton” — “who lives, who dies, who tells your story” convinced her where I couldn’t) “Oh! What if we start it at that moment when she was abandoned at boarding school…” I squealed with joy, because once Charlotte commits to something, she’s in it two hundred percent.

I started writing, fictionalizing that moment, imagining dialogue and the young Madeleine’s inner-most thoughts. Charlotte started reading her journals from the 1930’s, and we felt a deeper, more intimate connection with Gran than we had in years. She had been such a large part in helping US become, we felt we could successfully write about her becoming with distance, perspective, and great love.

I stopped fictionalizing, and we both wrote straight, trading back and forth, I writing the first draft of one section, Charlotte editing and then writing the first draft of another. Our voices blended like a running backstitch. We began to read her journals and letters from her girlhood, and I realized why Charlotte had been so daunted. “And this is only from when she was a teenager!” Still, we found moments that added to the narrative and incorporated them into our draft.

We quickly came up with a very rough draft and took it to Margaret Ferguson from FSG who said, “You have a book! But you have work to do.”

Thrilled, we rolled up our sleeves and went back to work, reading her journals and letters up to 1963 when A Wrinkle in Time won the Newbery Award. We were writing the book I had always wanted us to write — one voice together in harmony — we who loved our grandmother fiercely, whose presence made the world a better place, and whose work lives on.

Becoming Madeleine will be published in 2018, the year she would have turned one hundred.

Happy Birthday Gran — we wouldn’t be us without you!

Léna Roy is Regional Manager and instructor at Writopia Lab.

Lena Roy & Charlotte Jones Voiklis

Lena (left) and Charlotte (right. Photo credit: Amy Drucker Photography

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

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

Madeleine L'Engle Young

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

Madeleine L'Engle with Charlotte Jones Voiklis

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

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


“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.