After many weeks of me blathering about the book in anticipation, the new A Wrinkle in Time movie comes out this weekend. Maybe your family wants to turn movie day into a day-long event. Maybe some fan has a birthday coming up and is looking for a theme. Maybe you work in a library or school and love to host book-themed events whenever you get a chance! Whatever the occasion, I’ve got a party for you.
For its 50th anniversary six years ago, I hosted a birthday party for A Wrinkle in Time at my library. Only one guest came who’d actually read the book before, but even those who wandered in without a clue enjoyed the general weirdness and, of course, the free food.
The new movie has raised awareness of the story, so it’s likely your guests will have more previous knowledge to draw on than mine. Of course, differences between movie and book may confuse some of these things. Moving the setting from Connecticut to California (and changing what constitutes a “dark and stormy night” along with it), has, I am mildly disappointed to see, kept Reese Witherspoon out of Mrs. Whatsit’s traditional “storm-dodging tramp” getup, already rendering my attire for the evening moot.
I haven’t seen the movie yet. They don’t normally send preview screenings to small western Pennsylvania towns. So I can’t say how you might want to mix the movie’s visuals into your party. For now, or for a strictly book-centered event, here’s a jumping-off point.
Food, Fresh Off the Bunsen Burner
If you are going to have a Wrinkle in Time party, food must be served out of Mrs.-Dr. Murry’s home lab. Trim your buffet table with (clean) scientific equipment, serving food in beakers and (again, clean) Petri dishes and whatever else you can find. I threw in a scale and a microscope and some model molecules (built haphazardly, not representing real molecules, please do not attempt to synthesize these molecules at home) too.
If you are serving dinner, you must serve stew from a pot bubbling over a Bunsen burner. You can cook the stew on the stove or in a crockpot first if you like, but put it over the burner at party time. This is the only way to make your Murry family dinner authentic.
I couldn’t pull that off at a library party, so we stuck with the necessities for Dark Stormy Night Snacking: hot cocoa and tuna salad sandwiches. Mrs. Murry prefers liverwurst and cream cheese, so if you want to go that way, throw some of that in too, but Mrs. Whatsit herself goes for tuna, and I feel that’s both more iconic and more crowd-pleasing.
Throw in a veggie tray “Fresh From the Twins’ Garden!” for some variety, and that’s as snacky as the food references in Wrinkle get. I searched the Web for other ideas, and found a recipe for “Wrinkle in Time cookies.” There was no context for this recipe, so I don’t know what they have to do with the book or even if they’re named after the book at all, but I needed something else for the library party, so I whipped up a batch. Alas, I can no longer find the recipe online. I personally found them a bit too rich and gooey, myself, if that makes up for it. They looked cool under the stereo microscope, though.
There’s one more necessary dessert you need, though, if only for decoration. It’s one that does not belong in Dr. Murry’s lab.
Unfortunately, brain-shaped gelatin molds tend to be life-sized instead of larger-than-life-sized, but it will do. Make a grape cream gelatin to get the right purplish-gray tint, and place it on a pedestal. I happened to find this perfect translucent purple tray in the library’s kitchen—if you can find similar, you need to use it! Eat IT up before IT eats you!
Space-Time Warping Games and Activities
The nice thing about holding a book party is that publishers, authors, and teachers are often one step ahead of you. I had found some crossword puzzles on the publisher’s website, that unfortunately are no longer there. Madeleine L’Engle’s official site has links to teacher resources, and teaching sites are full of worksheets and other activities teachers have made. And if the projection drawings of five-dimensional hypercubes (because technically tesseracts are four-dimensional) aren’t screaming out to you to become coloring sheets, you are simply not a colorer. Have yourself a Tesseract(ish)-coloring party!
If you have the indoor space or the outdoor weather for it, hold a Synchronized Jump Rope/Ball Bouncing Challenge. Pair up and try to bounce balls or jump rope in unison, like the brainwashed children of Camazotz! It’s not so easy when you’re not brainwashed, but there are other perks to mental emancipation.
Cut some loops of yarn and grab a book, print up some written instructions, or provide access to videos on how to play traditional String Games like Cat’s Cradle. You can illustrate a tesseract with a string, or twist the string through many more dimensions. And don’t forget String Theory!
Build the Happy Medium’s Cave out of a dark sheet or blanket rigged as a small blanket fort. Inside you will need a Happy Medium. If you don’t have a spare volunteer to be the Happy Medium, set up an inanimate stand-in. Mine was a bear in a tie-dye turban. Then you just need a crystal ball—or, bowl. Fill a fishbowl with fortunes, horoscopes, or universal feelings. Guests can gaze into the crystal bowl (with their hand) and see new truths about themselves!
I can’t throw a library program without a display of thematically-appropriate books. You don’t need your own extensive library on astrophysics to set up a cozy Star-Watching Rock in a corner, though. I covered the wall above with paper constellations mirroring a bit of the autumn sky. If you have a star-projection nightlight, even better. Shine it above some beanbag chairs or large pillows, pull some books on, yes, astrophysics, or philosophy and the Big Questions (as L’Engle calls them), or conversation starters, and huddle together as a family, discussing all your deep thoughts as you gaze at the stars.
Weather permitting, you can set up a family star-watching rock of your own outside, and round out your evening like the Murrys. Dangerous space-time adventures aside, they’re a pretty good geek family to emulate.