“Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, “Dear Jim: I loved your card.” Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, “Jim loved your card so much he ate it.” That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.” ― Maurice Sendak
Imagine, for a moment, that you’re a publisher hearing a pitch about a children’s book whose tangled plot braids together quantum physics, fractions and megaparsecs (a measure for distances in intergalactic space). The book also casually tosses out phrases in French, Italian, German and ancient Greek. Sound like the next kids’ best-seller to you?
It didn’t to the many publishers who rejected Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, which turns 50 this year. The novel was an immediate hit with young readers and with critics when it was published, and it won the Newbery Medal in 1963. Since then, it has remained a beloved favorite of children and adults alike.
But it almost didn’t see the light of day. At the time, L’Engle already had six books to her name, but publishers were perplexed by her latest.