Musings on children's and YA literature, the academy, and the relationship between them, from an English professor and mother.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

children's lit trifecta

Today is the birthday of Madeleine L'Engle, C.S. Lewis, and Louisa May Alcott. How great is that? I'm throwing them a party with excerpts from each of their most famous works. First, two meals in A Wrinkle in Time:

[this one's in Camazotz, and it haunted me for years...]
The table was set up in front of them, and the dark smocked men heaped their plates with turkey and dressing and mashed potatoes and gravy and little green peas with big yellow blobs of butter melting in them and cranberries and sweet potatoes topped with gooey browned marshmallows and olives and celery and rosebud radishes and--
Meg felt her stomach rumbling loudly. The saliva came to her mouth.
"Oh, Jeeminy--" Calvin mumbled.
Calvin took a bite. He chewed. He swallowed. He looked at Meg. "If this isn't real, it's the best imitation you'll ever get."
Charles Wallace took a bite, made a face, and spit out his mouthful. "It's unfair!" he shouted at the man.
Laughter again. "Go on, little fellow. Eat."
Meg sighed and sat. "I don't think we should eat this stuff, but if you're going to, I'd better, too." She took a mouthful. "It tastes all right. Try some of mine, Charles." She held out a forkful of turkey.
Charles Wallace took it, made another face, but managed to swallow. "Still tastes like sand," he said. (p. 119)

and later, on Ixchel:

"Meg!" Calvin said gaily. "You've never tasted such food in your life! Come and eat!"
Aunt Beast lifted Meg up onto the bench and sat down beside her, then heaped a plate with food, strange fruits and breads that tasted unlike anything Meg had ever eaten. Everything was dull and colorless and unappetizing to look at, and at first, even remembering the meal Aunt Beast had fed her the night before, Meg hesitated to taste, but once she had managed the first bite she ate eagerly; it seemed that she would never have her fill again." (p. 170)

This is a book full of food, from Mrs. Murry's Bunsen burner stews to the sandwiches (liverwurst and cream cheese, lettuce and tomato, tuna fish salad) eaten at midnight when the family first meets Mrs. Whatsit. When the travelers return at the end of the novel, moreover, they land in the broccoli in the twins' vegetable garden (to my mind, a better use of broccoli than more conventional ones). Next up, a meal or two from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (once I find my copy...)

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