Lois Lowry's Blog

Welcome!

Uncategorized

Interview

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 12 May 2010
in Uncategorized

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUogr6pduwA

Well, I can't figure out how to make that into an actual link. But if you paste that address into your browser, it will take you to quite a nice interview with David Bradley, the director of GOSSAMER for the Peoples Light Theater in Philadelphia; and with Maggie Fitzgerald, the very gifted 13-year-old who plays the leading role.

I recently was having to write up some autobiographical material for a doctoral candidate in the UK, and so I was thinking about myself at various young ages. At 13 I was shy, awkward, self-conscious, tongue-tied. How do kids like Maggie Fitzgerald become so self-confident and poised, so young? My granddaughter, Nadine, (who is now 16) was also, at 13, articulate and poised.  And neither of them at all obnoxious! I'm in awe of that.

Maggie
 
Teeny NL pines

                                                                                          NADINE LOWRY, 13

Tags: Untagged

Cliff Notes, etc.

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 12 May 2010
in Uncategorized

I've always been irritated by such "learning aids" because they seem to leapfrog over the learning process and feed a student information that he/she should be figuring out for themselves. But then I was an English major in college, and before that an English-class-lover in high school, and I actually enjoyed—passionately enjoyed—the process of thinking about the components of literature. Many kids don't, and perhaps these educational shortcuts provide a valid boost to those who might abandon thought altogether. I don't know.

And I only mention it because a website called Shmoop.com which provides such help to students has sent me this "award" which they wanted me to put on my website.  I am not going to do that. But I did go to their website and I can see that the same students who email me to ask, "What are the major themes in The Giver?"— and then are frustrated because I tell them I am not going to do their homework for them—well, they can go to this website and get their homework done.

Best-of-Web-badges-4

If it means that they, in the process of copying the information provided for them, might actually learn something....well, it can't be all bad.

But darn it. I remember the passion and enthusiasm with which I puzzled over literature when I was in school, and through which I learned to appreciate and love some writers who at first seemed "too hard." 

...
Tags: Untagged

Happy Mothers' Day

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 09 May 2010
in Uncategorized

I came home from New York late yesterday to find these flowers waiting

Roses

sent from my much-loved daughter-in-law in Germany. A nice welcome after a long day.

But a good day. I flew down in the morning, and made my way to Books of Wonder on 18th Street, met Jules Feiffer there, and together he and I talked to a nice crowd of book-lovers, and then signed maybe a zillion books.

The driver who took me back to La Guardia apologized for being on his cell phone when I got into the car. He was calling his mother in Peru to wish her a Happy Mothers' Day.

...
Tags: Untagged

The magic of theater

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 02 May 2010
in Uncategorized

I've just returned from Philadelphia and from seeing (twice) a beautiful production of "Gossamer" at the Peoples Light Theater.  I shouldn't be surprised at this anymore, but I continue to be amazed at how theater people---all of them: director, designers, actors---can take words and make magic of them.

These photographs were taken by Mark Garvin (you can see others on the theater website: www.peopleslight.org)

TE and Littlest copy

This is Littlest, played by Maggie  Fitzgerald, showing Thin Elderly (actor Christopher Patrick Mullen) how gentle and delicate her touch is....

Littlest and John copy

...
Tags: Untagged

playing catch-up

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 27 April 2010
in Uncategorized

I've not posted here for a while, mainly because I have been so much on the road. This past week, I was first in Raleigh, NC, where in addition to a wonderful event at Quail Ridge Books, I got to see and visit with a stepson, his wife, and daughter. From there to Chapel Hill and Flyleaf Books---a new and terrific independent bookstore---where I got to see old friend Barbara Cameron and her daughter Maggie (they were way at the back of a long signing line. When it was their turn, I asked, "Doesn't being old pals entitle you to a place at the front of the line?"  "Apparently not," grumbled Maggie, age 8)

Next, Miami for two days and two appearances: one at a gorgeous historic church where schoolchildren were bussed in; then at yet one more outstanding independent bookstore: Books & Books,  where lo and behold, my daughter appeared, with friends.

Here I am with her on, if I remember correctly, her 50th birthday in 2008:

Max 50th copy

She lives in San Francisco but was in Miami for a few days and came to Books & Books with a group of her friends.

...
Tags: Untagged

"This deeply-felt, original novel..."

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Monday, 19 April 2010
in Uncategorized

My twin 13-year-old step-granddaughters were just here with their mom overnight because they had to get an early-morning flight out of Boston for a spring-break trip to Florida.

"Do you have something we can read on the plane?" they asked.

I glanced around. I knew they didn't want the new Chang-Rae Lee novel (and anyway, I haven't finished it) or the Collected Stories of Carol Shields.

"How about one of these?" one twin asked, pointing to a stack on a shelf in a dark corner.

Oooof.  (Or, as the twins would write: OMG).  The stack. The dread stack. The neglected, dust-collecting, unread, unacknowledged, guilt-producing stack.

...
Tags: Untagged

Coming Up

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Monday, 19 April 2010
in Uncategorized

Soon  I hit the road again, and this week I will be at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC, 7 PM Wednesday. Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC, 7 PM Thursday. Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL, 3 PM Saturday. Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL, 2 PM Sunday.

Next week---Tuesday, 4/27---- I'll be at the Brookline MA Public Library at 3:30 PM.

As you can tell, this is a very busy spring. Yesterday I took a break and Martin and I went with friends to see the Argentinian movie "The Secret in Their Eyes"---good movie, but I had to go  back just now and look up the title, which means it is not a good title.  You should be able to remember and say a title instantly, like JAWS.

Years ago---actually, 32 years ago!--- I wrote a book called FIND A STRANGER, SAY GOODBYE.  Ever since then I have had people say to me, from time to time, "I loved your book, ah, 'Say Goodbye to—' or some variation thereof.  See what I mean? Unwieldy title.

Images
Images-1

...
Tags: Untagged

Cleaning the pantry/cross-examination

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 11 April 2010
in Uncategorized

DA: And so, Ms. Lowry, it appears that at some time in the distant past, you bought two pounds of cornmeal.

LL: Yessir.

DA: And that, at a later time, in fact during a later year, you bought another two pounds of cornmeal, even though you had never opened the first?

LL: Uh, yes.

DA: And then, last year, a third two pounds?

...
Tags: Untagged

Back home, back to work

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 11 April 2010
in Uncategorized

I've returned from central Washington where I visited four different towns and did five different presentations and was warmly received by lots of wonderful people.  Brief snowstorm on Thursday! But mostly the weather was fine and the scenery in that area of Washington is spectacular. It was a fine, though tiring, trip. And just for the record: I hate Wolfgang Puck's airport sandwiches.

I got home Friday night and on Saturday morning joined several other speakers at an event held by the Foundation for Children's Books at the magnificent Boston Atheneum.  Each year they hold an event focusing on "What's New" so I had a chance to show-and-tell not only my newest published book, THE BIRTHDAY BALL, but also several upcoming ones, including one I've done for the newly-revived Dear America series. Mine, set in Maine in 1918-1919, will be called LIKE THE WILLOW TREE. Scholastic has updated the look of the covers of these books and also is now featuring the names of the many authors. It will be easier now for young readers to understand that these diaries are fiction --- there had been confusion in the past. But the historical events are carefully-researched and accurate. I would have loved these books when I was a kid.

Here, for example, is the original book "A Journey to the New World"---about the voyage of the Mayflower---

Journcvr

and here it is, same book, in its new incarnation, revealing the author's name, Kathryn Lasky:

...
Tags: Untagged

from today's email

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Monday, 05 April 2010
in Uncategorized
  • THIS WAS SENT TO ME BY A TEENAGE BOY:
  • I was distraught at the thought that no one had stepped up to the plate and made "The Giver Trilogy" its own Wiki site. After that I had an idea, if no one else had the courage to step up to the plate and make this fantastic series a Wiki site then I will. So I did. Its not up to par with most Wiki sites, but it was only made recently, so that makes up for it. I have started it. I would love to see this email on your site. I think this Wiki could easily become the definitive Wiki page for "The Giver Trilogy" as most people call it. I showed it to my teachers in class just today and they were both blown away by the concept. With regards, XXXXXXX
The Giver Trilogy Wiki <http://thetrilogy.wikia.com/wiki/The_Giver_Trilogy_Wiki>
Tags: Untagged

Westward Ho

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Monday, 05 April 2010
in Uncategorized
Wenatchee

This is the view from my hotel in Wenatchee, Washington---rainy, but you can see blossoms (cherry?), river, and beyond the river but not in the photo there are snowy mountains.

Long trip here but I want to say a good word about Jet Blue (no goods or services have been exchanged for this plug!) which is a wonderfully comfortable airline.  Non-stop from Boston to Seattle in a roomy seat with a private TV (40 channels; I watched the Red Sox-Yankees game live)

I got a little nervous when the man sitting next to me me turned on take-off, held out his hand, and introduced himself.  But it was fine. He was pleasant and didn't need non-stop conversation.  I have been skittish about such encounters ever since, years ago, returning from New Orleans, the trip began in a similar fashion, with my seat-mate introducing himself...then talking non-stop for the hours of the flight, and NUDGING me to emphasize things.  Elbow to my ribs, sometimes accompanied by "Get it?" He was an interesting cultural phenomenon in that he had been following the Grateful Dead for years and years and years...except for those times when he was unavailable because of incarceration (nudge. nudge. Get it? Get it?)

Just before leaving Boston my Kindle became frozen and I panicked at the thought of not having it for the trip. But Facebook users came to rescue and told me how to re-start.  So I was able to read as well as watching baseball, and finished the book "Girl on the Couch" by Lorna Martin, a Scottish journalist who, feeling despair and confusion at the paths her life had taken, entered therapy and then wrote quite an interesting—sometimes funny—account of the year.  Never having been therapized myself, I have also never had such a clear picture of the ongoing process.  Of course it made me want to rush to Scotland immediately and sign on with Doctor J, as the therapist is called in the book.

...
Tags: Untagged

Turkey leftovers

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 01 April 2010
in Uncategorized

The American Embassy in Ankara has provided the following statement to the writer who described the controversy in School Library Journal:

The European desk at the State Department relayed your query about a book at the Tarsus American School in Turkey.  Our colleagues at the US Consulate in Adana looked into the situation and found that the book, “Number the Stars,” is still at the library and available on the shelves.  We were informed that the inspectors did look at the book and a paper test based on it, and that they questioned whether young children in primary schools should be involved in subjects with strong religious or political connotations. However, school authorities told us that no further actions were taken by the inspectors regarding the book and, as noted previously, it remains available on the shelves.


This description is not consistent with the description given by the eyewitness. But it gets everyone off the hook and apparently puts the issue to rest. It seems an enforced rest to me, like a child sent to bed with the words, "I don't want to hear another peep out of you." 

...
Tags: Untagged

Back home

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Friday, 26 March 2010
in Uncategorized

I've just returned from a quick overnight visit to Harrisonburg, Virginia to see a middle-school production of NUMBER THE STARS, part of their extensive and impressive Holocaust curriculum.  

And I got home to find copies of a new Japanese translation of THE GIVER waiting here for me. I often have not cared much for Japanese book jackets, which sometimes are cartoonish..  But this one is quite beautiful, I think: (although because it is white, it's hard to tell, here, where it begins and ends):

THE GIVER Japanese

Tags: Untagged

Aye, Lassie! (from a Scottish newspaper)

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Friday, 19 March 2010
in Uncategorized
Scotland copy
 
Tags: Untagged

New York, New Yooorrrkkk...

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Friday, 19 March 2010
in Uncategorized

Leaving shortly for a videotaped interview at Barnes & Noble (which will be available on their website...  And yesterday I did one at Time for Kids, the junior version of Time Magazine, and that will be on THEIR website...they use kid reporters, mine a charming 11-year-old named Sarah)  Then tonight I go out to long Island to speak at a teachers' conference before heading home tomorrow.

Here is a truly New York Moment:

Yesterday, on arriving, my hotel room wasn't ready yet so I went out for a walk.  When I encountered a drugstore I remembered that I needed dental floss so headed inside but was stopped at the door by a 25-ish African American man wearing a Yankees sweatshirt, who asked me for money by saying, "I'm from Afghanistan."

I declined politely and went in the store, but as I looked for the dental floss department I was thinking about him. From Afghanistan?  Why no accent, then?  And he didn't look Afghani.  Well, might he have meant that he had been in Afghanistan with the military?  Made more sense.  And if that were true, I certainly wished him well, although I still wasn't inclined to give him money.

I paid for my stuff and headed out of the store, and there he was again, again asking for money, and again I shook my head no and said, "Sorry." His reply: "Well, God bless you anyway, cheap bitch!"

...
Tags: Untagged

Glug Glug Glug

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 17 March 2010
in Uncategorized

Well, that is what it has felt like here, with 10 inches of rain in 72 hours. We got lucky---just a LITTLE water in the basement---others were totally flooded.

Images

Tomorrow I leave for NYC, where I will do a video-taped interview with Barnes & Noble, also an interview with Time (magazine) for Kids, and then out to Long Island to speak at a teachers' conference. Home Saturday, just in time to see my son and his friend who are coming overnight Saturday night and will take me to brunch Sunday for my birthday; then next week I go briefly to Harrisonburg, Virginia.  It's a busy, busy spring---but most of it good stuff.

And crocuses are blooming like crazy in my yard.

Tags: Untagged

Troubling letter just received

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 09 March 2010
in Uncategorized

This has just been sent to me and I am still pondering what, if any, action to take.



*******************

...
Tags: Untagged

Jamboread!

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Monday, 08 March 2010
in Uncategorized
Bilde

This is the central atrium of the beautiful public  library in Spartanburg, SC, where on Saturday they held their annual Jamboread! event, to which thousands of children came to hear three authors/illustrators (me, Jane Yolen, and Paul Zelinksky) and to have books signed. They also got free ice cream and face-painting as well as some other entertainers, so it was a great success on a gorgeous blue-sky day.

Fun for the authors as well, in part because it is rare that we get free time to be with each other uninterrupted. But Jane and I had a leisurely dinner together and time to talk----well, okay, make that gossip.

I got home Sunday in time for the Oscars, and then today had lunch with Allegra Goodman, author and neighbor, then spent a lot of computer time dealing with the logistics of upcoming travel. Can one get easily or quickly from Bozeman, MT to Sacramento? (answer: no)  Well, how about Wallingford, CT to South Bend, Indiana? (also no)

Here is yet one more classroom enjoying a Gooney Bird Greene Day:

...
Tags: Untagged

Lights! Camera! Action!

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 03 March 2010
in Uncategorized

I wish  I could say that the title of this post means that they have started shooting the film of THE GIVER. Not so.

It only means that this morning a film crew arrived and set up shop in my living room:

Weston Woods video

and then filmed an interview with me for Weston Woods, which will make it available along with a video of my book "Crow Call."

So it was a busy morning, followed by lunch with two women friends, and now I'm about to go out to dinner at a wonderful Cambridge restaurant called Oleana, a combined birthday celebration for me and my friend Alan  Jacobson---both of us with March birthdays (an amazing number of friends have March birthdays. Someday I should have a big March party and invite them all)

...
Tags: Untagged

La Repubblica interview

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 25 February 2010
in Uncategorized
Images-2

In this uthopic-disthopic society pain has been removed. But we get to know that only passing through a process of suffering one can become really wise.

Where you thinking of the ancient Greeks, Aeschylus in particular, when he says: knowledge doesn't come but from sufference? Or was it your experience, your life, which seems to characterize so much your writings?

When I sit down to write a book, I begin with a character, a setting, and an idea of some journey that character will make.  This will be a metaphorical journey, or course; but often, as I write, I find that the character makes a physical journey as well—as Jonas does when he flees the world he has known and makes his way into an unknown realm.  I am not aware, while I write, of calling forth past writers or thinkers. But of course all of us are influenced by our education and by what we have learned from writings of the past. I never, while writing this book, thought of the Greeks—of Aeschylus, as you suggest, or of Plato, as others have suggested. And yet what I studied of the Greeks years ago is still there in my brain, deeply buried in my subconscious. Everything we learn stays with us and affects what we think—or in my case, what I write.


The more western society 'grows up', the more it looks like the one you described almost 20 years ago. In fact, death's refuse, or better: this kind of taboo about death, is becoming little by little stronger. How do you see the situation? Do you consider this as a real danger?

Generations ago, death was a frequent and expected event within families.  I own a house that was built in 1768. Down the road is a small cemetery and in it lie those who lived in my house more than two hundred years ago. I can read the gravestones and see that many, many children died then, and young wives and mothers. Those who lived in my house would have died there, in their beds, and been carried by their family members down the hill to be buried. It would have been an intimate, loving, and sadly commonplace act.  

But of course that is no longer true. Technology and science have prolonged our lives but at the same time have caused us to to see death as a fearful enemy, something to be battled, and those battles take place not in the warm comfort of our homes but in the sterile atmosphere of a hospital. The family retreats as the technicians take over. And we have begun to avert our eyes.


Like everything presented in THE GIVER, there is no right or wrong. It is a book about things we have sacrificed, about what we have given up, and what we have gained. We have a longer life expectancy now that we did in the 1700’s. This is good. But we have sacrificed the familial intimacy and acceptance of death. In the book, the society has gone even farther, has disavowed death, and re-named it.


And what about freedom of choise, which looks progressively weaker?

The entire book is about choice. In essence, it is intended to cause readers to think deeply about political choices. The community  in the book has become very safe, has found ways of dealing with some of the things that threaten contemporary. There is no danger of overpopulation, for example. But (as in today’s China) they no longer choose the size of their own families.  In the book, there is no divorce. But (as in some of today’s India) they do not choose their mates. So the reader is constantly weighing the issues that freedom and democracy present.



In the dangerous idea of sameness is hidden the ideal of equality. Am I right? What's the line which divides the two?

Same thing. There is no bigotry, no discrimination. This is good. What have they sacrificed, though? They have lost all the diversity that makes our societies so rich and interesting.



Love and sex are banned. Control of birth is perfectly elaborated. Euthanasy as well. Are these the themes that made “The Giver” a book banned by many associations and libraries? Aren't instead themes which should be considered challenging for guys?

It is true that THE GIVER has been banned in some places in the USA and that some groups of individuals see it as a dangerous book for young people to read or discuss.  I have come to think that these groups or individuals are people who are fearful: fearful of knowledge, and of independent thinking. They are more comfortable with strict rules and restricted information.

The banning of THE GIVER is ironic, because one of the things Jonas’s world has lost is literature. Not only are all troubling and thought-provoking books gone—bu
t ALL books have disappeared. As has art, and music. Things that promote deep thought or deep feelings have been eradicated.


The most interesting theme, in my opinion, regards this freedom of lying which seems to allow individuals to be themselves. Would you talk a bit about it?

The entire book is about hypocrisy. Sadly, this is something we see today most clearly in the political world. Lying is commmonplace and we have learned, with good cause, to mistrust our leaders.


You said you got many ideas about the book in Japan. Why?

 I  lived in Japan as a child and I love that country and its people. Yet as a Caucasian child in Japan in the late 1940’s, post WW II, I was viewed as “foreign”...and I viewed the Japanese the same way...as “different”...and this prevented us from truly connecting with each other. We were fearful of the differences. The world of THE GIVER has done away with the concept of different cultures. And of course there is no religion, And no money. All of those things that cause suspicion or conflict are gone—hence no crime, no war. But at such a high cost.


You said you write for young people because it makes you remember of your life as a child and because much of you adulthood was spent taking care of your children. Is it still the same?

It is not that writing for young people makes me remember my own childhood but rather the reverse. Remembering my own childhood makes me write for young people. Although the details of everyday life are very different now from the years when I was young, he emotions of childhood have stayed the same. The fact that I have such clear memories of those emotions makes me able to put myself into the consciousness of a young fictional protaganist and to re-experience all of those fears and joys and yearnings.



What do you think of this triumph of the young-adult genre?

Today’s young people are growing up in a very complex and difficult and challenging world. I think literate people have always used fiction as a way of making sense of their own lives. For a young adult, the privacy of a book is a very safe way to explore complicated feelings, and fiction, in particular—the excitement and suspense of a story—leads them into an exploration of issues that seem relevant. I’m always very moved when young people write to me and tell me how a book has touched them personally, has made them think.





Do you still dream of a world in peace or else you consider war as connaturated to human beings?

That’s a question I can’t answer. I watched my father go off to war when I was a child, and generations later I stood beside my own son’s casket and watched as he was buried with military honors. Now I have grandchildren—am I to go through this again someday?  There are times when I feel very pess imistic. But then things happen that give me hope. The election of Barack Obama was one such thing. The letters I receive from today’s young readers are another.


Tags: Untagged