Friday, September 07, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle, 1918 - 2007

Madeleine L'Engle has died. She was my favorite author.

Her books were about me.

Kids who were a little different. Kids who were a little smarter. Kids who had insights. Kids who were misunderstood. Kids who realized at a very early age that their teachers did NOT know everything. Kids who felt alone. Kids who found friends who were also different, smart, and insightful. Kids who loved science but hated science class. Kids who hated math class but intuitively understood that math was all around us. (Meg is a mathematician! How many YA books feature a female mathematician?) Kids who wanted to learn about Madame Curie and Einstein and Planck but who were required instead to read about how the moon has phases, in language so simple that we knew it was meant for kids who didn't already know all about the moon's phases, at an age when NOT to have known that already should have been shameful. Instead, it was considered typical, and we were not.

Her books were banned in many localities; naturally, by "concerned parents and clergy" who had never read them. This only increased the books' appeal, at least for smart people.

Yes, many kids could not understand them. Why was that a bad thing?

Well, it mean that many kids didn't have the capacity for understanding anything that wasn't written at a third grade level, but none of you will be very surprised to know that I consider that mainly a thing the kid himself/herself needs to work on.

Not to be curious about or have intuitive knowledge about the "things unseen" is a tragic thing.

As for people who advocate censorship, well, there are many words to describe these people, all of which can be found in any thesaurus if you look under "stupid."

People who advocate censorship don't generally come here, unless they wish to be abused. :)

I've read what the censor-mongers have to say, and none of it is viable. Please, don't any of you fall for that absolute nonsense.

Yes, I generally read up on both sides of any issue I feel strongly about. How else can one come to a logical conclusion? One side of an issue isn't 'facts.' One side of any issue is merely propaganda.

Madeleine L'Engle's books were wonders of literature and every other "subject" imaginable.

Madeleine L'Engle knew how to turn magic into science, without losing any of the magic.

This is, of course, a talent that all teachers should have. Many teachers know how to teach science, but their methods and prescribed curriculi target the magic and intentionally remove it.

This applies to all subjects.

I loved Madeleine L'Engle and all of her characters, most of whom were Madeleine herself. She even taught me how to love unsavory sniveling characters who symbolized all that is wrong with the world.

She taught me to accept no excuses for negative behaviors, but to always seek the reasons behind them that we might try to help people who do terrible things.

She taught me that everyone has reasons for what they say and do, even when they themselves do not understand those reasons.

She taught me not only that love is the answer, but that love has many faces. And phases.

She taught me that an inability to comprehend far-reaching consequences is one of the biggest problems we as a civilization face. Her books show us that selfishness can destroy others as well as ourselves.

Her books tell children that there are people like us all over the planet, who know about the magic behind a lot of the daily drudgeries we must all get through. Longing for a family like the Austins or the Murrays got a lot of my students through childhood and adolescence, with the determination that they, like Calvin O'Keefe, would someday escape the horror that was their biological family and create a REAL family, and that sometimes one's REAL family is as unlike one's biological family as anyone could possibly imagine. These books taught, and still teach, children to keep hoping, that things WILL get better if each person believes it will and works to make it so.

These books teach us that if we wait and work and strive and refuse to give up, we can change our own world which, of course, changes the whole world.

Thank you, Madeleine. I've loved you since the day I discovered that first book, and I've loved you more with each additional discovery.

You made the world better. I'll miss you. Thank you.

Thank you so very, very much.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 3:11 PM | |


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