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The Mrs. decided that this year the kids were all too old for Easter. Or at least that part of Easter involving a basket with colored eggs and candy and a few other little things. Even when the youngest pointed out that simply stopping such a tradition for all of them in the same year was shorting her more than her older brother and sister the Mrs. seemed steadfast. The other two, she explained, only had the benefit of Easter baskets over the past couple years because of her, after all, and... well... anyway, she wasn't going to do baskets this year and that's final!
Which is how we found ourselves at the exchange last night picking up the things we needed for Easter baskets. The Mrs. hit the candy aisle and picked up a couple little jewelry items while I hit the books and DVD section of the store, where I found this item. I picked it up with a bit of hesitation - the book as I remembered it was a favorite of mine when I was a bit younger than my youngest is now, so I wasn't sure if it would work. Aside from the age-appropriate issue was the question does it still inspire?" It looked to be a made-for-TV movie, after all, so obviously it wasn't going to have the production standards of The Lord of the Rings, or meet the expectations of any for whom those films are now the paradigm of DVD-formatted epic fantasy.
Did I mention it was but a few hours until Easter? Into the basket it went. Fast forward to Easter Sunday. We just watched it, the whole family. That's a middle schooler, a high schooler, and a college guy watching together, along with mom and dad. The story held up well. The combination of science, science fiction, fantasy, and theology built around a female central character was ahead of it's time, and the theme of the ongoing battle between light and darkness played amazingly well today.
Highly recommended - if for no other reason than to entice any younger readers in your world to delve into the books. (This being the first in a series of four.)
This excerpt from the first volume defines the conflict:
Meg looked into the crystal ball, at first with caution, then with increasing eagerness, as she seemed to see an enormous sweep of dark and empty space, and then galaxies swinging across it. Finally they seemed to move in closer on one of the galaxies.
"Your own Milky Way," Mrs. Whatsit whispered to Meg.
They were headed directly toward the center of the galaxy; then they moved off to one side; stars seemed to be rushing at them. Meg flung her arm up over her face as though to ward off the blow.
"Llookk!" Mrs. which commanded.
Meg dropped her arm. They seemed to be moving in toward a planet. She thought she could make out polar ice caps. Everything seemed sparkling clear.
"No, no, Medium dear, that's Mars," Mrs. Whatsit reproved gently.
"Do I have to?" the Medium asked.
"Nnoww!" Mrs. Which commanded.
The bright planet moved out of their vision. For a moment there was the darkness of space; then another planet. The outlines of the planet were not clean and clear. It seemed to be covered with a smoky haze. Through the haze Meg thought she could make out the familiar outlines of continents like pictures in her Social Studies books.
"Is it because of our atmosphere that we can't see properly?" she asked anxiously.
"Nno, Mmegg, yyou knnoww thatt itt iss nnott tthee attmosspheere, " Mrs. Which said. "Yyou mmusstt bee brrave."
"It's the Thing!" Charles Wallace cried. "It's the Dark Thing we saw from the mountain peak on Uriel when we were riding on Mrs. Whatsit's back!"
"Did it just come?" Meg asked in agony, unable to take her eyes from the sickness of the shadow which darkened the beauty of the earth. "Did it just come while we've been gone?"
Mrs. Which's voice seemed very tired. "Ttell herr," she said to Mrs. Whatsit.
Mrs. Whatsit sighed. "No, Meg. It hasn't just come. It has been there for a great many years. That is why your planet is such a troubled one.
"But why --" Calvin started to ask, his voice croaking hoarsely...
"But what is it?" Calvin demanded. "We know that it's evil, but what is it?"
"Yyouu hhave ssaidd itt!" Mrs. Which's voice rang out. "Itt iss Eevill. Itt iss thee Ppowers of Ddarrkknesss!"
"But what's going to happen?" Meg's voice trembled. "Oh please, Mrs. Which, tell us what's going to happen!"
"Wee wwill cconttinnue tto ffightt!"
Something in Mrs. Which's voice made all three of the children stand straighter, throwing back their shoulders with determination, looking at the glimmer that was Mrs. Which with pride and confidence.
"And we're not alone, you know, children," came Mrs. Whatsit, the comforter. "All through the universe it's being fought, all through the cosmos, and my, but it's a grand and exciting battle. I know it's hard for you to understand about size, how there's very little difference in the size of the tiniest microbe and the greatest galaxy. You think about that, and maybe it won't seem strange to you that some of our very best fighters have come right from your own little planet, and it's a little planet, dears, out on the edge of a little galaxy. You can be proud that it's done so well."
"Who have our fighters been?" Calvin asked.
"Oh, you must know them, dear," Mrs. Whatsit said.
Mrs. Who's spectacles shone out at them triumphantly. "And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not."
"Jesus!" Charles Wallace said. "Why of course, Jesus!"
"Of course!" Mrs. Whatsit said. "Go on, Charles, love. There were others. All your great artists. They've been lights for us to see by."
"Leonardo da Vinci?" Calvin suggested tentatively. "And Michelangelo?"
"And Shakespeare," Charles Wallace called out, "and Bach! And Pasteur and Madame Curie and Einstein!"
Now Calvin's voice rang with confidence. "And Schweitzer and Gandhi and Buddha and Beethoven and Rembrandt and St. Francis!"
That list was shortened for the movie version though. Jesus did not appear, nor the reference to scripture, though St. Francis, Buddha, and Gandhi all made the grade.
I won't speculate as to motive of those who made an otherwise excellent film, but if you've read the book you know that's another small victory for the darkness.
More to come?
Happy Easter G-Hawks! Way to stick to your guns on the Easter baskets Mrs. G. For a moment I thought you were holding your own when you used the, "the other two only had the benefit of Easter baskets over the past couple years because of you" analogy. Beautiful! I wish I'd have thought of that one when I got the, "I'm getting jipped", argument from my youngest. Don't feel bad, I "caved", too.
Thanks for the tip on "A Winkle In Time". It sounds like my "Harry Potter-freak" will enjoy it.
Posted by FVK at March 27, 2005 04:34 PM
I always cry when I read that passage. Thank you for posting it. I need to go read the series for the umpteenth time . . .Posted by Teri at March 28, 2005 04:52 AM
I'd never heard of those books, thanks. Now I've got one on order for my girl - when she's done, I'll give it a read myself. BZPosted by lex at March 28, 2005 07:29 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(3) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)