Back in elementary school, this was the first book I’d read of Madeleine L’Engle’s. I still carry this book around in my mind, because of the massive impact it had on me.
As a little girl, I read voraciously, gaining lots of A.R. points. A.R. is a great reading program, one where you read the book, and then you take a little test on it. The program started in 1998, when I was about seven years old. So by the time I was in upper elementary school, it was in full swing.
I love A Swiftly Tilting Planet because of the magic and the adventure that takes place. A teen-aged Charles Wallace, a gifted boy, must ride on the back of an alicorn named Gaudior. Gaudior and his sister Meg help him go back in time, across time and space, to help defeat a madman bent on destroying the world.
While this is a children’s book, it deals with complex themes, and talks about the Christian religion. At one point during the novel, when Charles Wallace and Gaudior are in trouble, the alicorn cries out, “Oh heavenly powers save us!” and they are saved.
I still recall the old Irish rune that Charles Wallace hears from Mrs. O’Keefe for the first time around the dinner table:
I place all Heaven with its power,
And the sun with its brightness,
And the snow with its whiteness,
And the fire with all the strength it hath,
And the lightning with its rapid wrath,
And the winds with their swiftness along their path,
And the sea with its deepness,
And the rocks with their steepness,
And the earth with its starkness,
All these I place
By God’s almighty help and grace
Between myself and the powers of darkness.A Swiftly Tilting Planet, pgs. 18-19.
This Irish rune helps Charles Wallace and Gaudior on their journey across space and time. The people Charles embodies also hold onto this powerful rune, which like magic, helps the people around them in times of need.
I will certainly be re-reading this book, because its so full of complicated ideas that I probably didn’t fully grasp when I read it in about fifth or sixth grade.
The cover of this book is the same one I remember reading from as a child. While I have a different version, this particular cover holds a lot of nostalgia for me. It represents adventure, safety amid danger, and the ability to travel through time and space itself. I didn’t know what alicorn’s were back then–and Gaudior was called a unicorn in the book–but as an adult they are one of my favorite mythical creatures.
I loved this book when I first read it, and I still love it now.
Thank you, Madeleine L’Engle for writing such fantastic literature!