January 28, 2023

Save the Net Books

Blogazine on Books, Arts, and Music

23 A WRINKLE IN TIME covers, ranking

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A book has to be both long-lived and rather odd to get as many covers as A Wrinkle in Time has since it was published in 1962. In fact, I’m hoping that another Rioter who hasn’t read the book will write a plot synopsis, which is based solely on looking at covers, à la our Pride and Prejudice Explainer. I guess from the covers alone you’ll realize there’s outer space, some kind of centaur and who knows what else. I usually like to give a little blurb about a book’s plot, but this time I’ll let the covers speak for themselves.

I was re-reading the book while writing this article and was struck by how abstract it is. It wasn’t always easy for me to envision the plot or setting, partly because there’s so much of both, and I think that’s reflected in the truly remarkable variety of book covers. It was also remarkable noting what a textbook ADHD queen Meg is. This observation helped me understand why, as a child who over-regulated his emotions to the very end, I didn’t respond to her outbursts the way other readers did. However, what captured my imagination as a child was the concept of the tesseract and understanding how moving through different spatial dimensions works.

What readers love about the book, like Meg’s character arc and the exhilarating exploration of space-time, are hard to convey on a book cover. So let’s take a look at what these illustrators and designers were trying to show. I’m going to rank all the English language covers I found because I can’t resist a countdown.

23. The “Collector’s Edition”

This comes in the absolute last place for a number of reasons. First, I generally dislike movie tie-in covers because they replace what could have been really cool cover art and leave too little room for character interpretation. Second, if it’s going to be a special edition, it’d better be SPECIAL. Why is this one so boring?

Cover of A Wrinkle in Time featuring film actors

22. Disney tie-in number 2

Let it be known that I’m a fan of these actors! (We agree he’s the best Chris canon, yes?) And I thought the film was a perfect adaptation. But let’s allow the film to be its own thing and the book can be a separate thing. I’m like a person who doesn’t want to touch the food on my plate when it comes to movies and books.

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Disney tie featured in the cover of A Wrinkle in Time

21. Disney connection number 3

This is slightly better than the previous cover. At least you can see that something strange is happening to the universe, and backlighting Meg will give readers a better idea of ​​her. But isn’t it weird and offensive to slap that Disney name before the title? Too corporate.

planet's only cover of A Wrinkle in TIME

20. This low-effort puffin edition

I swear this is what got painted on the walls of my hometown bowling alley to make Friday night laser bowling extra groovy.

Centaur cover of A Wrinkle in Time

19. This muscular Centaur cover

This is like a recreation of the amazing Christian Riese Lassen folders from the 1990’s that I loved with orcas in space and such. An overweight centaur in the desert isn’t nearly as cool as orcas in space.

Cover of the 50th anniversary issue of A Wrinkle in Time

18. This deeply unattractive 50th anniversary edition

I find it hilarious that a book cover supposedly aimed at luring in a child reader depicts the depressing landscape of Camazotz with an eerily grotesque centaur in the style of Egon Schiele. yuck

Cover of a Wrinkle of Time with an illustrated trio

17. This illustrated cover

Apologies to the artist, but this doesn’t look like great fan art. I love that Meg’s hair is having a moment, but why does Calvin look like a troubled middle-aged detective?

Cover of A Wrinkle in Time with concentric front circles

16. This 40th anniversary edition

Another low effort cover by Puffin. Without any other context, I would think this is just a book about telepathy or telekinesis. Couldn’t they at least have taken Meg’s glasses?

Cover of A Wrinkle in Time with Centaur and Void

15. The centaur comes through the square issue

I guess that cover makes things weird, but what lets kids know this book is for them?

Cover of A Wrinkle in Time featuring Rainbow Centaur

14. Rainbow Centaur Number One

Finally a cover that shows that Mrs. Whatsit’s transformation isn’t into the standard centaurs, but into a creature made of marble with wings of rainbows! Points for the unoriginal landscape that takes the children from Pride Rock to Mordor.

Cover of A Wrinkle in Time with children dissolving into light

13. The “Baby You’re Fireworks” cover

“Let her go, ‘oh oh oh!’ You will leave them all in awe, awe, awe!”

A Wrinkle in Time 50th Anniversary orange cover

12. This 50th anniversary edition

This is a decent riff on the original cover. More on that later.

Cover of A Wrinkle in Time with shadowy illustrations

11. The mime cover

The mood in this film is fun, but the characters look like jewel thieves in a snappy 1960s caper film.

folksy illustrated cover of A Wrinkle in Time

10. The illustrated cover of the picture frame

I think the style of this cover is fun in a folksy way, but it’s a little busy and hard to tell.

Space cover of A Wrinkle in Time

9. The Space Bubble Cover

The illustration on this cover looks the most contemporary of all, and I think it’s worth it when we’re trying to get today’s kids interested in this book.

Cover of A Wrinkle in Time

8. The Eierkinder cover

I don’t think this cover necessarily fits the story, but I like that it conveys a sense of protection and adventure, which certainly fits the spirit of the book.

A Wrinkle in Time 50th Anniversary blue cover

7. This 50th anniversary edition

This cover lets you know the book has been out a long time and won the Newbery, but I still like the unadulterated original cover better.

Cover of a Wrinkle in Time featuring characters tumbling through space

6. Puffin’s Best Cover

Excellent artistic style, vague hint of space travel and danger, and extra points for Meg’s glasses!

Cover of A Wrinkle in Time with people seeing a sphere

5. The Orb Edition

I know that’s the happy middle. But I can’t be the only one who enjoyed the Pondering my Orb memes when they were circulating. Bonus points for making the three Mrs. Ws look like weird and radical broads.

Cover of A Wrinkle in Time with detailed character illustrations

4. The Peter Cushing cover

Tell me this isn’t Grand Moff Tarkin towering over them all. I love how this reminds me of the cover of an Atari game. I also think this is a great look for Calvin, such a non-threatening and formative book lover for so many of us.

Cover of A Wrinkle in Time featuring a centaur with rainbow arms

3. The strangest cover

Publisher: So you finished the children’s book cover that I asked you to illustrate? With the rainbows and the centaur and space?

Artist: Sure. Absolute nightmare fuel, just like you asked.

Publisher: What?

Cover of A Wrinkle in Time with rainbow centaur and beetle

2. My sentimental favorite

In Colson Whitehead’s classic New York Times essay on post-9/11 New York, he said, “You start building your private New York when you first see it.” And I think the same goes for A Wrinkle in Time. Her private wrinkle is the first you see. And this one is mine. It has the right centaur with rainbow wings and isn’t as scary as a lot of the other covers. Also, the bug on the leaf is a hat for kids like me who loved the explanation of how to use an ant to cross space on a fold.

Cover of the first edition of A Wrinkle in Time

1. The original taste

I’m not inclined to say that the original is always best. But in this case it is. It has great style. It leaves the details to the imagination while letting us know that something weird and dizzying is happening. Also, check out little Charles Wallace with his arms akimbo. Look at him! This little silhouette shows us his charm and fearlessness and that we have to protect this precious child at all costs. (The orange anniversary cover changed poses, which I bemoan.) They really nailed this cover on the first try.

Would you like to read more about A Wrinkle in Time? We have an essay on a reader’s experience with depression and this book and a story of how he revisited it as an adult. And did I miss any covers? Do you agree with my ranking? If not, I’ll give you the same advice Mrs. Whatsit gave little Meg: stay angry.