Sad news in yesterday's New York Times: Madeleine L’Engle died. She was best known for A Wrinkle in Time, but she wrote dozens of YA books. I didn't read that many of them, but I'm willing to bet there's not a one where she talked down to kids. She knew how to spin a yarn that kids would get caught up in because it felt real even when it wasn't possible (at least not yet). When my son was in grade school and he had a class assignment to write to an author, he chose her. She sent him back a reply. It was a form letter—not too surprising when you figure Wrinkle sold over six million copies—but it was still a reply.
The Times article says Wrinkle was rejected by 26 publishers. That's a heartening statistic, if you've ever gotten a rejection letter. And in some ways, I think L’Engle was the J.K. Rowling of her day. Her books put kids front and center in the battle between good and evil, and sometimes the kids didn't make it. She wanted them to know that people die. In a way it's odd to think that adults today want to shield kids from that fact, but some of them do.
L’Engle called 'em as she saw 'em, and it showed in her work.