Read my reflection on the amazing Madeleine L'engle over here, at Salon.com !
L'Engle once said, "You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children." And this line of hers, which has been taped above my desk ever since I decided to try to write for kids, still rings true. It shows such deep respect for children, and for the complicated means through which they approach the world. The difficult language children speak.
She wrote for everyone, but L'Engle's books for children were of a different order. They harnessed the full power of her invention, and created a world we could not have imagined independently. She possessed something beyond ordinary human vision; L'Engle had epiphanies. Her creatures and imaginary worlds were both more imagined and more real than most, in part because of the deft way she blended science and religion into fantasy. She managed to define magic in terms that seemed honest, and in doing so made magic more true.