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A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel

By Madeline L’Engle, Adapted by Hope Larson

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


Cover of A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel


Newsflash: A Wrinkle in Time has gone graphic! To many fans, turning the beloved classic by Madeline L’Engle into an illustrated format would seem sacrilege. Who could be trusted with this epic task? Macmillan Publishers and the L’Engle estate decided it could only be Eisner Award-winning artist Hope Larson. With Larson spearheading the task, could she be faithful to the text and bring the story to a brand new audience? In this question and answer review, you’ll learn more about the graphic novel format, read about Hope Larson’s personal journey through the book’s transformation and find out what young readers have to say about this groundbreaking enterprise.

What is a graphic novel?

While there are varying viewpoints defining a graphic novel, simply stated a graphic novel is a stand-alone story told in a comic book style that is book-length. A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel is a full-length book that has 392 pages. In preparation for the graphic adaptation, Larson wrote out a script before she even began designing the panels and filling in word balloons.

Why would anyone want to put a classic like A Wrinkle in Time in a graphic format?

Hope Larson, the illustrator who adapted the story wondered the same thing. Larson, a devoted fan of the Time Quartet, felt nervous when offered the opportunity to adapt the story. In an article she wrote for The Huffington Post Larson said, “What if I couldn't do the book justice? What about the people-the people on the Internet-who throw up their hands and moan about their ruined childhoods whenever anyone adapts anything? Neither of those thoughts was as frightening as the possibility that someone else, someone who didn't love the book as much as I did, would take the job and make a mess of things. I agreed to do it.”

In my opinion, the graphic novel format is highly appealing to a different kind of reading audience. Plus, it’s fun to see an artist’s interpretation of what the characters might look like, such as Meg, Aunt Beast, IT, and the trio of supernatural ladies known as Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which. Larson writes that she realized in re-reading the original that Meg had a shiner that readers has probably forgotten about, but that as an artist she needed to be faithful to in her visual adaptation. Hence, readers will note Meg’s black eye throughout the graphic novel.

(Source: Huffington Post, 09/21/2012)

How faithful is the graphic novel to the book?

Clearly Hope Larson is acquainted with the story. Even the most devoted fan will recognize key phrases, such as when Mrs. Whatsit falls down and refers to her “sprained dignity”. The graphic novel is such a faithful adaption that I can recommend it to readers knowing they will not be missing out on any of the story.

Who is Hope Larson?

Hope Larson is an award-winning artist who has spent her entire career in doing what’s she loved most: drawing comics. Recipient of the 2007 Eisner Award, the highest honor given to a comic book or graphic novel, Larsen has written five graphic novels for mostly a middle grade/young adult audience.

Larsen graduated with a BFA from The School of Art Institute in Chicago. In addition to drawing, Larson enjoys hiking and going to the movies. She resides in Los Angeles, California with her husband.

(Source: Hope Larson’s Web site)

What are the kids saying about this book?

Because this book is aimed at kids and teens, I took a copy of A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel to the source. Circulating my copy among devoted teen fans and a few kids who had never read the original story, I came up with these results: The teens who were devoted fans were at first skeptical, but rose to the task. One teen took the task seriously enough to reread the original and gave me a verbal compare and contrast. What did she think? She was amazed at the artwork and pleased that the adaptation was so faithful to the book.

My independent young readers, who were more likely to enjoy a graphic novel, also loved the book. Did they have any trouble following the storyline? No - and they liked it! Great, new fans have now been inducted into the world of Madeline L’Engle. It seems to me the intended audience is very satisfied.

And the verdict is?

Talent and courage - that’s what was needed to take an untouched classic and present it with a new twist. Did Hope Larson come through? In my opinion, the answer is a resounding YES! With my original copy of A Wrinkle in Time on the left and the graphic version on the right, I began to read Larson’s adaptation.

After awhile I abandoned the original book because it became quite apparent that Hope Larson was absolutely faithful to the story. From portraying Meg’s anger and unhappiness with her life to Mrs. Whatsit’s sprained dignity, I could see that Larson did not take her role in adapting the story lightly. In fact, Larson candidly admits in the article she wrote for The Huffington Post that she felt overwhelmed by the task.

The Artwork

Larson’s artwork is impressive. Instead of using a rainbow of color, she kept the drawings warm and simple using blue, black, and white. In my opinion, L’Engle’s storyline is already rich in color. Hence, the text carries the color while Larson’s soft illustrations are a warm invitation to step into the story.

I’m extremely impressed with Larson’s ability to stay faithful to the story and dialogue. Meticulous care was taken to incorporate key descriptive details into the drawings, such as the near permanent blush staining Meg’s cheeks, whether from embarrassment or anger.

My Recommendation

The adaptation is ingenious, thoughtful, faithful, and clearly pays homage to a beloved book. Larson’s graphic adaptation will bring a classic story to life for legions of devoted fans while becoming a novelty to a whole new generation of graphic novel readers. I recommend A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel for readers ages 10 and older. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012. ISBN: 9780374386153)

More Recommendations, From Your Guide Elizabeth Kennedy

If your tweens and teens love Madeline L’Engle's classic, you'll want to know about the 50th Anniversary Commemorative Edition of A Wrinkle in Time and all of the extras in it. If they enjoy graphic novels, they may also enjoy a very different one - Rapunzel's Revenge, a fairy tale with a western touch.

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