Lois Lowry's Blog

Welcome!

Latest Entries

Pilgrimage

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Monday, 27 August 2012
in Uncategorized

I have just written, in an email to a close friend to whom I had recommended a book, "If you don't cry at the ending, then our friendship is over."

The book is called THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY ... a first novel by Rachel Joyce.

It had been recommeded to me by my friend Tom, and Tom happened to be visiting this weekend, so he was here when I concluded my reading, and we had a chance to talk about it. In part we talked about the use of the word "pilgrimage"...such a perfect choice. The author could have used the word "journey", of course...but pilgrimage...perfect.

I am a fast reader but I took my time with this one, savoring each paragraph.

(In contrast I picked up another new book last night: THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS, perceived in the first pages that it was not savorable, at least not by me, so I zipped through it and finished it in one sitting and won't even bother recommending it to friends. But Harold Fry? Oh yes.)

...
Tags: Untagged

Late Summer

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Monday, 20 August 2012
in Uncategorized

Yesterday, Sunday, I had my 14-year-old grandson with me for the afternoon. Since his father wisely decrees blocs of time as "no screen" time...meaning no iPod Touch, no iPhone, no laptop, no TV....and Sunday was in that category....I tried to interest my grandson in a book. But he disdained any of my offerings. When I asked what books he had liked recently, he couldn't think of the author's name immediately but he listed "War of the Worlds," "The Invisible Man," and "The Time Machine."  H.G. Wells! I said.  Yep. That was it.

I have just ordered some Asimov for him in hopes that they will appeal. Of course school will re-open soon and he probably won't have time for much recreational reading.

Yesterday, instead of reading, we played Yahtze for a while; then he went out with a camera and did some fabuous nature photography. He got a close-up of a hummingbird—and said he would email me a copy so perhaps I can post it here later—that is astounding.

The air is starting to feel like fall coming, actually, and school starting. The crisp nights. The late summer flowers. Monarch butterflies. Apples in the trees.  It all makes me want to go buy a lunch box with a map of the USA on it, and a few new pencils.

And what am I reading? On a friend's recommendation: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce. And on the basis of a review: The Light Between Oceans, by M.L. Stedman.

...
Tags: Untagged

Hello again, it's me. All right, it is I

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Monday, 13 August 2012
in Uncategorized

I haven't posted to this blog in a while, in case anyone has noticed, and because it is traditional to include a reason when one is expessing regret for one's behavior, I am trying to figure out why I have been negectful in this particular realm.  Sorry, my narcissism level has been low?

A. I became obsessed by the Olympics?

B. I did a million interviews because I have a new book soon to be released?

C. I had company coming and going?

D. I've been working on a manuscript?

...
Tags: Untagged

Brigham Hill Farm

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 25 July 2012
in Uncategorized

In 1769 a widower named David Kneeland came north from Topsfield, MA, and bought the land on this hilltop; when he had cleared the land and built a house, he planted the first apple trees in this part of Maine.

The post-and-beam barn was put together with pegs and hand-hewn nails which are still there today. The foundation of the house was of granite slabs wrested from the land when the fields were cleared, and hauled into place by oxen.

Twelve years later, Kneeland sold the property to Asa Kimball, who owned a mill three miles away on Stevens Brook. Kimball had a large family, and his sons were able to tend the farm while each morning he rode his horse three miles to the mill, and each evening home again. There were no roads then, just a trail worn by the horses over the ridge.

Today I drive those same three miles to the post office, or the library, or to pick up a New York Times at Bridgton Books, which is just beside the bridge over Stevens Brook.


I love the history of a place. I loved a book called Blackbird House by my friend Alice Hoffman; it followed the generations —and their stories—on a small Cape Cod farm about the age of this Maine homestead.

...
Tags: Untagged

RIP Margaret Mahy

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Monday, 23 July 2012
in Uncategorized

The world has lost the illustrious Margaret Mahy and it is a huge loss indeed. I met her once (more on that in a moment) in New Zealand, where she lived, but didn't know her. But if what I have been told about her is true...that she had two children without a husband, back in the days before it was trendy to do that!...and that she built her own house with her own hands...then I deem her surely super-human and am amazed that she was not able to stave off death. 

I was surprised, reading an obituary, to find that she was only a year older than I am; I had always assumed she was considerably older, I guess because the magnitude of her work, both in quality and quantity, was so much greater than mine.

Some years ago I did a lengthy book tour of both Australia and New Zealand, and when I was in Christchurch, speaking in a public library, I noticed the rather dramatic looking woman in the audience...could she have been wearing a long black cape, or has my memory fantasized that? In any case, she was notable in appearance. I didn't know who she was but during the Q-&-A after my talk, she rose to her feet and expressed outrage at something. She had read a book of mine, a book called RABBLE STARKEY, which was quite new then, I think, and she had quite liked it. Liked it enough that she bought another book of mine, one called THE ROAD AHEAD.

I was startled, because I had never written a book called THE ROAD AHEAD. But she had brought it with her and held it up...waved it about...and I could see that it did, indeed, have my name on it as the author.

...
Tags: Untagged

berries and pommel horses

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Friday, 20 July 2012
in Uncategorized

Last night Alfie didn't come in before darkness fell and I should have gone looking for him and insisted. Instead, I sat reading the biography of Lillian Hellman that I had taken from the library and ignoring the fact that the only other mammal in the house was Lulu the Cat.

When I heard over-excited barking, though, I took a flashlight and went out.  Yikes.  There was the Alf, circling a huge porcupine out by the blueberry bushes.  Ordinarily Alfie completely disdains and ignores my pathetic wheedling, "It's time to come in now" but this time he reacted to and obeyed my panicky yelling "No! Get away!" thereby saving me from a 35-mile trip to the only 24-hour-emergency-veterinarian. (You would think that he would remember the time four years ago when he had a very serious tangle with a porcupine and not go near one again. But no.)

So this morning I went out and picked the ripe blueberries. Many more green ones waiting...either for me, or the porcupine, or the deer, or a bear...whoever gets there first, I guess.

Martha Stewart tells me, in her August issue, newly arrived here, that soon I should refill the birdbaths (well, I do that almost every day, along with the feeders, cursing the squirrels and chipminks at the same time), host a cocktail party (not gonna happen), make pickles (no), and inspect my beehives (thanks anyway, Martha; I think not).

...
Tags: Untagged

What is it about opera?

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 19 July 2012
in Uncategorized

If you write out the plot for almost any opera, it would seem unbelievably silly.  Try this one: woman falls wildly in love with her brother's worst enemy.  Her brother forces her to marry someone else. On their wedding night she stabs her new husband to death and goes completely mad and then dies, herself.  Her true love, on hearing this, kills himself. Her ghost comes to comfort him in his dying moments. The end.

Why then, yesterday, on hearing and watching the Russian soprano Anna Netrebko sing Lucia di Lammermoor, did the entire audience...including me...snuffle and sob?  This was not a live opera....it was a replay of the live-streamed performance from the Met two years ago, and on a big screen in a comfortable (and air conditoned) theater.  As a way to spend three hours on a hot summer afternoon, it was glorious. Nothing of course beats a live performance but there were things that one couldn't have seen without the phenomenal cinematography...like the magnificant details of the costumes. And glimpses between acts of the backstage bustle.

I just went to You Tube and watched three other sopranos sing the mad scene from Lucia.

Now back to real life.

Tags: Untagged

Fall Schedule

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 18 July 2012
in Uncategorized

Last night I attended the first of the summer series of the Lakes Region Chamber Music Series, and accompanied by piano and Violin, a very fine soprano, Lisa Saffer, sang a version of the Jane Kenyon poem "Let Evening Come"..set to music by composer William Bolcom. My daughter Kristin read this wonderful poem at Martin's memorial service last summer, so it had special meaning to me.

It is one more hot humid day, though they predict a cooling off tomorrow. This afternoon I will be in air conditioning when I go to Freyburg, Maine, for a repeat of the live-streamed "Lucia di Lammermoor" from the Met. And later this week the film "Moonrise Kingdom" will open in Conway, NH...22 miles away, sigh, but I will make the drive.

My little Maine town has a movie theater but the guy who owns it refuses to show anything but the usual blockbuster fare, and a little Spiderman goes a very long way with me.

I just finished inserting information into the calendar on my website which shows when and where I will be touring this fall. If you click on the calendar  and then advance to September and October you will see the details (below is what it looks like, but you must actually go to it in order to click on each date and read details) and you will also see why by the end of October I will be a basket case.  Each event is always fun, and I love meeting all the people who take time from their busy schedules to come and talk about books...or listen to me talk about books!...but the traveling itself is, as you know, not easy: going from city to city, from airport to airport, from hotel to hotel.

Tags: Untagged

Miscellaneous

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 10 July 2012
in Uncategorized

I am glad there is a word "miscellaneous." I use it in my Quicken program, where I record all the checks I write and organize them by categories so that when tax time comes I will know what I spent on OFFICE SUPPLIES and MEDICAL/DENTAL.  But when I spend money on an umbrella or a leg of lamb or a plastic kazoo, or anything the IRS doens't think I really need professionally, I categorize it under "miscellanous."  It is a word that serves me well.  And this post is in that category.

First of all, it is about Woody Allen movies. In New York last week, I had four hours free, and I very much wanted to see a movie called "Take This Waltz," and I walked in 95-degree heat 14 blocks to the theater where the NY Times had told me it was playing, only to find that it no longer was. But I needed the air conditioning so I went in anyway and sat through "To Rome with Love" and watched Woody Allen once again, for the 112th time, play a balding neurotic nerd of a man. The Roman scenery was lovely but it was not enough to redeem the experience for me and I came away vowing never again to sit through a Woody Allen movie.

This post—"Miscellaneous"—come to think of it, is also about vows. Because I made another vow just this week. A little history here: it seems to me quite unusual, maybe newsworthy, that over the course of my adult life I have TWICE found myself in a bank in the middle of a bank robbery. Once would be unusual.  Twice, I think, qualifies as downright spooky and maybe related to the way the stars are aligned.

And now I have...this has nothing to do with banks...found myself for the SECOND time (and one was quite enough) sitting in a pleasant restaurant, having a pleasant meal, with a pleasant friend, when we became aware that nearby, a couple at a table with a banquette was actually changing their baby's diaper on the banquette.  I had this experience years ago at GREENS in San Francisco; and three days ago at THE BLACK HORSE TAVERN in Bridgton, Maine. I'm not publishing those names in order to accuse or embarrass the restaurants...both of which I love...but just because as a writer I know that details bring a scene to life.  The other details, those of the diaper, are unpleasant and I am bypassing them.

So where is the VOW in all of this? Well, I am taking a vow to cease being dumbfounded and silent when I find myself in such a situation.  Dumbfounded and silent is the way I reacted in both bank robberies. (In the second one, actually, I was shoved and told "Get out!" and so I got out of the bank before I entirely realized what was happening. Still, on realizing, I remained silent. But someone else had already called 911 and seven police cars arrived as I stood there mutely.)

...
Tags: Untagged

The Silent Boy

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Monday, 09 July 2012
in Uncategorized

A number of years ago I wrote a book called THE SILENT BOY, set in Pennsylvania in the early 1900's and illustrated by old photographs....the story of an autistic teenage boy, told by the young girl who befriends him.

Last week I saw a staged reading of the adaptation which has been produced by Arts Power, a  traveling theater company that specializes in taking theater...book adaptations....into the schools. When fully staged the characters are in period costime, as shown in this photo. But last week, at Columbia Teachers' College in NYC, (the set is shown here) the performers simply read the roles (and did so very beautfully. A lot of people in the audience were snuffling and dabbling their eyes. okay: I was, too)

Arts Power (you can see their website at www.artspower.org) also has a musical production of Anasatsaia Krupnik, as well as a number of adaptations of other well-known and well-loved books.  Their shows each run about an hour so they can fit comfprtably into a school schedule and they offer a lot of study resources.

I sound like a publicity person. And I'm not. But I am very impressed by the quality of this organization and what they offer to students.

 

...
Tags: Untagged

Lions and tigers and...chipmunks

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Monday, 02 July 2012
in Uncategorized

Just for the record, I am very mad at chipminks despite their annoying cuteness. If they didn't have that sweet stripey back they would just be ordinary rodents.

The thing is, this is the first summer I have had a pair of cardinals here, and it has been exciting: that vibrant red really spices up a morning. So I got a special birdfeeder for them...for some reason they prefer to dine from a flat table instead of perching on the hanging swinging feeder where all the goldfinches and grosbeaks hang out. So I got them their own private restaurant and put it in the crabapple tree. Trouble is, every other minute there is a chipmunk in it, yelling "Look how cute I am!" and eating all the safflower seed...which I bought especially for the cardinals...and every morning the feeder is blooming empty for that reason.

I taught the cat not to climb the porch screen by using a water pistol, and it worked...Pavlov was right; negative condiitoning is very effective.  Even when there is a wonderful fluttery moth on the other side of the screen, you can see Lulu dying inside because she wants to leap at it, but she glances at the orange plastic pistol on the nearby table, and she stays put, with her whiskers vibrating

But I have work to do.  I can't lurk with my little gun out by the crabapple tree. Anyway, the UPS guy might see me and he would call 911. I would be in the local Police Blotter along with all the domestic disturbances and moose enounters.

...
Tags: Untagged

Mail angst

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 30 June 2012
in Uncategorized

I just want to let people know that for the past couple of months my website has been messed up and the email that came through the webiste mostly disappeared. I coudn't figure out why people had stopped writing to me! Boo hoo! Was feeling very sorry for myself...the "nobody loves me anymore" syndromeToday, suddenly, much of it has resurfaced though I am afraid all of May's mail is permanently gone. So if you wrote me in May and I didn't reply...that's why; try again, please.  If you wrote me in June and I haven't replied yet...stand by. There's a lot to reply to!

It is not clear why these things happen. I blame all sorts of villains, like those deposed royals in Africa who want me to help them get their millions out of escrow. More likely it is just some weird computer thing, but since it is no fun to shake one's fist at technology, I prefer to think that humans are lurking out there getting some kind of weird kick out of ruining the relationship between me and my readers and correspondents.

In any case, it appears to have ended but I'm sorry about those emails that have been permanently lost. If you were a student who needed a reply by Thursday in order to get an A....my fault entirely. Tell your teacher that. If you are a worthy cause who was looking for a donation...I would have had to say no anyway.  If you wanted me to read your manuscript...I would have said no, with regret; can't do it.

But if you were someone who loves books, who wanted to talk about books, or writing...or whose life had been affected in some positive way by something I wrote...then I truly wish I could have read your email.

Don't give up on me! I think I am back in business. And I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Tags: Untagged

Tick Tock

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Friday, 29 June 2012
in Uncategorized

Well, this variety of clematis is now at its peak. But the peonies are done.

I had a vase of peonies in the downstairs bathroom and the combination of their beauty and aroma made it tempting to visit the bathroom much more often than nature required. But their time was past. The blossoms were browning at the edges and drooping. So this morning I took the whole vase to the kitchen in order to empty it and discard the dead peonies. But by the time I reached the kitchen I was carrying nothing but a vase of bare stems. I looked back and there, in the hallway outside the bathroom, were all the petals…white and pink…on the floor; and in the midst of them, like a show-offy flower girl at an aunt’s wedding, Lulu the cat was prancing and tiptoeing.

 I have been at my desk non-stop for two days...have not been hiking, picnicking, somersaulting, or anything else involving grass or woods.  Nonetheless: I just removed a tick that was burrowing into my neck. Second neck tick in two days!  What is this?!  Probaly not a deer tick...too big...but revolting nonetheless. If I wanted someone to suck on my neck, I would...no, never mind; I am not going to go there.

I have already had Lyme Disease, and it was NOT FUN. I do not wnat to have Lyme Disease again.  But they say this is the year...because of the weather (very little snow all winter)...of the tick. All kinds.  I have deer galore in my meadow.  I have seen them walking majestically across...fourteen at one time, once...and in apple season I have woken to see seven or eight munching at my apple trees, some up on their hind legs to hit the higher branches.  Once, at night, I took the dog out on a leash and had a close encounter with a very large deer in back of the barn...startled us both, and we fled in opposite directions.

...
Tags: Untagged

Early morning

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 28 June 2012
in Uncategorized

 

Here are my kids at 6:30 AM.  This is mid-stage in our usual morning routine. Usually I let Alfie out at 6:15 or so, after he wakes up and woofs quietly from his bed at the foot of mine, more a kind of throat-clearing that means, "Ahem, hate to bother you but.."  So I take him downstairs, encountering Lulu en route...(I never know where she sleeps, but she is not allowed to sleep in my bedroom because sometimes she goes into nocturnal-beast mode in the middle of the night and turns anto a panther and attacks my feet)...and let him out. (Lulu is an indoor cat, much as she would prefer otherwise. There are too many predators out there: coyotes, fishers, eagles, hawks, and an occasional car) Then I feed them both and...this is the embarrassing part: we all go back to bed. Zzzzz. Till 8 or even 8:30.

So this picture was taken at 6:30, after Alfie had come back in, and before I fed them both. While they were both eating, I had a sudden enlightened moment: the awareness that  I didn't need to go back to bed. i was up. Awake. I could STAY up and awake. I stood there a moment, in my bedroom after we had gone back upstairs, aware that Vice and Virtue live very close together. Vice=bed. Virtue=shower. I wavered. Alfie was already curled up in his own bed, watching me. And ta DA!  I went and turned the shower on. I stayed up. And now I am in my office, with coffee and NPR and a feeling of self-worth, and it is still early morning.

Last week I had three friends here and it was fun but meant that I didn't spend much time at my desk. There was too much fun stuff to do. Even when I was at my desk, tending my email or reading the NYT online, I was thinking: If I pick up some pine nuts I could make that good cauliflower thing for dinner or We could go up to North Waterford and have lunch at Melby's...

...
Tags: Untagged

Chirp Chirp

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 26 June 2012
in Uncategorized

When I was a kid, I had a Great-Aunt Mary whom I loved but who I thought kind of batty because she was a bird-watcher. And now look at me, here with my binoculars, all excited because today there are rose breasted grosbeaks and purple finches at the feeders.

 

I have had company for the entire past week and now am by myself so perhaps it is that the birds provide camaraderie now that the house is empty and quiet.

...
Tags: Untagged

Father's Day

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 17 June 2012
in Uncategorized

They say in Maine that the black flies will last from Mother's Day to Father's day...in other words, mid-May to mid-June...and that generally holds pretty true. The dragonflies are everywhere now, swooping and hovering like little helicopters, and the biting flies are gone. It's is Father's Day once again, a day on which I remember my own father, who lived to be 92.

He was the son of Norwegian immigrants. Here is a picture of my grandfather, whom I never knew...he died when Dad was in high school...with his stern and taciturn looking brothers.


He is the one seated on the right; his name had been Carl Augustus Hammersberg...from Oslo...but he Americanized his first name to Charles. The brothers were Andreas, Oliver, Christ, and Thorvald, if I remember correctly; and the suits and ties were not their usual dress. They were blue-collar workers...my dad's father on the railroad. After his father's premature death, the railroad pension helped Dad get through college and dental school.

...
Tags: Untagged

Where am I? What day is it?

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 13 June 2012
in Uncategorized

I am going to put a list here of the cities I wil be in, speaking and signing, in the fall.  When I have the specific times and venues, i will post them on the calendar called "Upcoming Events" on my webiste. But for starters, because people are starting to ask, here is my schedule:

 

 

SEPTEMBER 2012

 22-23 Washington National Book Festival

...
Tags: Untagged

Back from BEA

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Monday, 11 June 2012
in Uncategorized

Here I am with a bunch of glitzy guys: Kadir Nelson, John Green, Walter Dean Myers, and Chris Colfer (from "Glee") at the BEA convention...we all spoke at the Children's Book and Author Breakfast, such a nice occasion. One had the feeing that all 1100 poeple in the audience were soulmates.

And here I am a couple of weeks earlier, with Jan Coates, of the Mount Desert Island Readers and Writers Project.  Tough to get to the island...a 9-passenger plane; I wouldn't want to go in fog or stormy weather. But worth the trip!  A whole lot of seventh graders had been reading and studyng THE GIVER; it was great to be with them, and with Jan and all the others who work so hard.

 

...
Tags: Untagged

in Maine

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Monday, 28 May 2012
in Uncategorized

I drove up here Saturday with the car loaded (and still, forgot some stuff Frown but nothing vital).  Both dog and cat are good travelers and Alfie is clearly thrilled to be back here in his country life ...  though since he was here last I have had my guy cover the underside openings to the barn with wire mesh...no more critters, I hope!  But Alfie is frustrated; he used to love going under there to see what was going on...risky!  He paid the price one night and came away loaded with porcupine quills. You'd think he'd learn)

New screens on the porch because Lulu, a kitten last summer, had torn them by climbing. I can't afford to replace them yet again so instead have been teaching her to stay off.  Complete Pavlov by way of water pistol, and she is learning quickly.  Beware of Woman with Plastic Gun.

The grandsons have been here this weekend and found a plastic snake in the toy closet, which made for a lot of torment-the-cat moments:

 

...
Tags: Untagged

after many years....Annemarie!

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 23 May 2012
in Uncategorized

In 1977, hired by her parents, I photographed a 10-year-old girl with blond hair and big eyes.  Later, when I wrote NUMBER THE STARS, one of those photos was used on the  cover of that book.  The little girl was actually Swedish and had the Scandinavian look that was just right.

I have remained friends all these years with her mother; and recently, talking on the phone with her, she mentioned that her daughter...now of course grown...was now living in Connecticut. As it happened, I was headed to that part of Connecticut because a musical of NUMBER THE STARS was being performed there (Spirit of Broadway Theater, Norwich, CT)

 

This is a wonderful old building, former fire house, converted to a theater.The show will run for two more weeks.

...
Tags: Untagged