"A Wrinkle in Time" Book Discussion and Themed French Toast Cupcakes Recipe
Meg is hot-tempered and awkward at school. The only person who seems to really understand her is her odd youngest brother, Charles Wallace. He is exceptionally intelligent and eloquent for his age, but then, both of their parents are brilliant physicists. His father, however, Charles Wallace has never met. Sent away on a government program doing no one knows exactly what, Dr. Murry has been gone for many years, and most people whisper that he abandoned their family. But one dark and stormy night, a visitor appears at the family’s door, a haggard woman named Mrs Whatsit, dressed in very eccentric clothing, who has already befriended Charles Wallace. She seems to be somewhat telepathic, and cryptically tells Mrs. Murry just before leaving that there is indeed such a thing as a tesseract.
Charles Wallace decides he and Meg must pay a visit to the haunted house a few miles down the road, where Mrs Whatsit has been hiding, along with her friends Mrs Who and Mrs Which. On the way there, they meet a boy named Calvin from Meg’s school who has the opposite problem as Meg, of forcing himself to fit in, and no one really understanding him. The three strange women inform the children that they are not from our world, that they know the Murry’s father, and that he is in desperate need of their help. They will take the trio and help them “wrinkle” across time and space onto a new planet where dark forces are in power, ones that have been trying to destroy their father. Armed with cryptic advice and their minds, the group stop at the home planet of the three women for some nourishment of their bodies and souls, before they face the most alluring terrors, and seek out Mr. Murry and how to save him and the entire planet from the shadow.
Filled with humor, wisdom, and creativity, is for anyone who ever wondered about other planets or time travel, or any person, even adults, who was ever an awkward child, wishing their life was made for more than just “fitting in.” This book is the satisfaction of childhood dreams and curiosities, and teaches how we can all still fight the shadow, no matter our age. A Wrinkle in Time
On the night Mrs Whatsit appeared, Charles Wallace was at the kitchen table warming milk for cocoa, and enjoying bread and jam. The morning after meeting Mrs Whatsit, and the day they would meet Mrs Who, Mother made French toast for breakfast for her children, and they discussed a little of the previous night’s events. To combine the french toast with strawberry jam, I created a recipe for:
French Toast Cupcakes with Strawberry Jam Whipped Frosting
French Toast Cupcakes with Strawberry Jam Whipped Frosting
- 1/2 stick salted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 5 oz strawberry Greek yogurt
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract, divided
- 1 tsp plus 1/2 tsp cinnamon, divided
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp real maple syrup
- 2 tbsp strawberry jam
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tbsp powdered milk or meringue powder
- 12 fresh strawberries, for garnish, if desired
- Preheat oven to 350°F. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, combine butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium speed. Remove ¼ cup butter mix, place in a small bowl, and mix in 1 teaspoon of cinnamon with a spoon. To the butter sugar mix in the stand mixer bowl, add the strawberry Greek yogurt. Add flour, baking powder, soda, half a teaspoon of cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl and sift to combine.
- Gently pour half of the flour into the stand mixer while it runs on low speed. Then add the milk. Add the rest of the flour, followed by the eggs, one at a time, and increase the speed to medium-low. Then add a teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1/4 teaspoon of real maple syrup. Remove the mixing bowl and drop small half-teaspoons of the set-aside butter-cinnamon mixture across the top of the batter. Fold this in gently with a rubber spatula. Scoop into paper-lined cupcake liners and bake for 14-16 minutes.
- For the frosting, pour one cup of heavy whipping cream into the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and whisk on medium-high speed for one minute. Stop and add the jam and powdered milk. Whisk for one more minute on the same speed. Stop and add the remaining teaspoon of vanilla and all the powdered sugar very slowly, then turn the mixer on to the lowest speed, and slightly increasing back up to medium-high as the powder is incorporated.
- Once you have a fluffy whipped topping (it should double to triple its original liquid size), pipe onto cupcakes that have cooled at least 15 minutes. Garnish each cupcake with fresh strawberries, if desired. Refrigerate if not serving immediately, but remove from fridge about an hour before serving. Makes about one dozen cupcakes.
French Toast Cupcakes with Strawberry Jam Whipped Frosting
Rate the Recipe
1.1 How was Charles Wallace able to understand his sister’s and his mother’s minds with such accuracy, even predicting that Meg would join him downstairs during the storm and want cocoa?
1.2 Why did Meg hate being an oddball, and why was it so difficult for her to pretend to be like other people, or even to do well in school? Was she smart?
1.3 Did anyone in his family completely understand Charles Wallace? Why was it good that his mother at the least didn’t try “to squash him down. You’re letting him be himself.” What did that mean, exactly?
2.1 Charles Wallace just knew some things about Meg, because she sort of told him inadvertently, “like being able to understand a sort of language.” Was it possible he was talking about body language and gestures? Or maybe her facial expressions? Or was it more? Why C.W think Meg and her mother “needed” him more to do this than her brothers did?
2.2 Calvin loved his family, but believed they “didn’t give a hoot” about him. And that he cared more than they did. Why did this lead him to always call home? Why had Meg never realized before how lucky she was to be loved?
3.1 Meg knew the answers to many facts and trivia, but struggled with her other subjects, such as English. Even her mother admitted to Calvin, “she’s a little one-sided.” What did she mean? Was it just about Meg's head knowledge, or even about her emotions and understanding people?
3.2 Calvin had lots of friends at school, and everyone liked him, but “for all the most unimportant reasons.” What did he mean by that, and that he could hold himself down and function on the same level as everybody else, but “it isn’t me,” ?
3.3 Megs mother believed that everything, ever her husband’s disappearance, had an explanation, but that sometimes “with our human limitations we’re not always able to understand the explanations.” What things in the story was it difficult for Meg to understand?
4.1 What did Mrs What mean when she said “we don’t travel at the speed of anything. We tesser. Or, you might say, we wrinkle” ?
4.2 How was Charles Wallace able to help Mrs Whatsit translate the language of their home planet by “letting himself go”?
5.1 How would having Meg and Charles Wallace help their father to have courage, and to “do what he cannot do for himself”?
5.2 How did Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who, and Mrs Which travel in the fifth dimension?
How did they explain the five dimensions and what are the fourth and fifth ones?
5.3 What did Mrs Which mean that “there will no longer be so many pleasant things to look at if responsible people don’t do something about the unpleasant ones”?
5.4 What does the quote Mrs Whatsit used mean “How small is the earth to him who looks from heaven”? Did she mean it only literally, or what might have been its metaphorical meaning?
5.5 Who were some of the great fighters in the history of our planet against the shadow of evil?
6.1 Mrs Whatsit loved dressing up in odd clothes, but what made Meg realized that it was not Mrs Whatsit that she was seeing, but only a game Mrs Whatsit was playing? How was she actually beyond human understanding, and what had she really been once?
6.2 What ability did the Happy Medium have? Why was she so happy? What things made her sad or tired?
6.3 The talisman each child received was, for Calvin, his great ability to communicate, for Charles Wallace, the resilience of his childhood, and what for Meg? Why did Mrs Whatsit only increase talents they already had instead of giving them new ones? How were they helpful?
6.4 What were the three children told they must not do on Camazotz?
7.1 How can pride and arrogance be helpful for children and teens (especially in the face of fear, such as Charles Wallace faced on Camazotz)? How can these traits also be dangerous?
7.2 What was the purpose of the man with red eyes?
7.3 Why did the man with red eyes take away “all the pain, all the responsibility, all the burdens of thought and decision” from everyone? Why did the children refuse him?
7.4 Why did Meg so desperately want her father back, even after she’d been told he “hadn’t been acting very like a father lately”? Why are father and father figures so important, especially to children?
7.5 Why did the children’s food taste like sand to Charles Wallace, but not to Calvin and Meg?
8.1 Why was everything on Camazotz in perfect order, completely synchronized, with nothing and no one different? Were they really happy? Is it better to never be unhappy, but also never be happy?
8.2 Is it really nicer to “let no one suffer...to simply annihilate anyone who is ill”? Why did they call it, being “put to sleep”? Have any other leaders in history done that?
8.3 How was Charles Wallace able to walk through walls?
8.4 Why did Meg disagree with Charles that, even though our world isn’t perfect, it’s better than the “organization” of Camazotz, even with people being sick, sometimes for long periods of time?
9.1 How did Meg get to her father?
9.2 Why had Meg been so certain that “the moment she found her father everything would be all right”?
9.3 What was IT?
9.4 What were Meg’s greatest faults and how did she use them to save herself?
9.5 It said that on Camazotz they had “complete equality. Everybody exactly alike.” But how are like and equal not the same thing at all?
10.1 How did they resist IT and hold out so long? What was IT unused to that made parts of it become soft and atrophied through lack of use?
10.2 Our time on earth is straightforward, but it may not be fully one-dimensional, because it can’t move back and forth on its line, only ahead. What would time be like if it were two- or three-dimensional? What kind of time do you think they have on Camazotz?
10.3 Why was it a frightening and exciting thing for Meg’s father to discover “that matter and energy are the same thing, that size is an illusion, and that time is a material substance”?
11.1 Is earth a dark planet or shadowed? Are we fighting it? How?
11.2 Why was Aunt Beast’s planet’s (Ixchel’s) atmosphere opaque? How can they know the stars then and know their dance better than beings like humans who study them through telescopes?
11.3 Aunt Beast thought that seeing is very limiting, because we know what things look like, but not often what they are like. What’s the difference?
11.4 How did Meg try to explain light or day and night to the beasts? How would you do it?
11.5 Why wouldn’t Aunt Beast accept the names mother or friend, or monster?
11.6 How did things like good and the stars and light and love help to fight against the Black Thing? Can we use all of them to fight it too?
12.1 Why did it have to be Meg after all to help Charles Wallace? How long had she known and been fighting it?
12.2 Why couldn’t the Happy Medium see what was going to happen with Meg and Charles Wallace? How are our lives like a sonnet, with a strict form, yet freedom within it?
12.3 Why was Meg so angry with her father and wanted him to do everything for her on this journey?
12.4 What did Mrs Who’s advice mean that “The foolishness of God is wiser than men...God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise”?
12.5 What fatal mistake did IT make with Meg, and what did she realize she had that IT did not have?
The next books in this series, in order, are A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, and An Acceptable Time. Another series by Madeleine L’Engle is Meet the Austins, and its sequels, which follow another family’s adventures.
Similar fantasy/time and planet travel series books for children is The Chronicles of Narnia Series by C. S. Lewis, which can be begun with either The Magician’s Nephew or The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.
The “horrifying void” of tessering or wrinkling is very similar to how dragons and fire lizards allow their people to travel between in Dragonsong by Anne McCaffey.
Stardust by Neil Gaiman is another adventure story about space travel, other worlds and creatures, and the battle of good and evil.
Another book that has a different perspective on daily life within a controlled system, much like on a certain planet in this book, is The Giver by Lois Lowry.
“Isn’t it wonderful? I feel as though I were just being born! I’m not alone anymore! Do you know what that means to me?”
…”I think that with our human limitations we’re not always able to understand the explanations. But you see, Meg, just because we don’t understand doesn’t mean that the explanation doesn’t exist.”
“Oh, we don’t travel at the speed of anything. We tesser. Or you might say, we wrinkle.”
“My child, do not despair. Do you think we would have brought you here if there were no hope? We are asking you to do a difficult thing, but we are confident that you can do it.”
“A straight line is not the shortest distance between two points.”
“And we’re not alone, you know… all through the universe it’s being fought, all through the cosmos, and my, but it’s a grand and exciting battle...some of our very best fighters have come right from your own planet… you can be proud that it’s done so well… All your great artists. They’ve been lights for us to see by.”
“Beware of pride and arrogance, for they may betray you.”
“Didn’t you ever have a father yourself? You don’t want him for a reason. You want him because he’s your father.”
“Maybe if you aren’t unhappy sometimes you don’t know how to be happy.”
“Good helps us, the stars help us, perhaps what you would call light helps us, love helps us.”
“Think about what they are. This look doesn’t help us at all.”
“You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you.”
Questions & Answers
When did you first read A Wrinkle in Time and what did you think about it?
I was probably about nine or ten years old the first time I read this book, and it really opened the doors of my imagination. I instantly loved it, the adventure, the themes, and especially that even a child could help make the world better.
© 2018 Amanda Leitch