Lois Lowry


My new book, SON, the one that turns The Giver trilogy into a quartet, will not be published until October. But this is an ARC (advance readng copy) which goes to reviewers and is used for other prepublicatiopn purposes.  The previous three books will also get new jackets so they will clearly be a related set.

My Italian publisher has just brought out the third in  THE GIVER trilogy...called MESSENGER in English. Next fall the trilogy will become a quartet when the fourth and final volume, SON (in English), is published.







LOWRY, Lois. Gooney Bird on the Map. Bk. 5.

Gr 1-3–Gooney Bird Greene and her second-grade classmates are back. This time, the class is gearing up for February vacation and exploring the month’s other celebrations–Valentine’s Day and several presidents’ birthdays. Gooney Bird, as always, is brimming with facts and ideas. When some students are upset because others are going to exotic destinations, Gooney Bird cooks up a plan to bring everyone together, culminating in the creation of a large, snowy U. S. map on the playground and a presentation about states for the entire school. Occasional black-and-white illustrations add to the accessibility of this short chapter book. A sure hit for Gooney Bird fans.

The opera THE GIVER, commissioned by the Kansas City Lyric Opera and the Minnesota Opera Company and composed by Susan Kander, will have its world premiere in Kansas City in January 2012 (and will  be perfomed in April in St. Paul, MN)  The composer has written this "program note" (background information which will appear in the program)  I think you'll be able to tell, reading it, what an exciting event this is going to be!

Program note

Ask anyone under age 28 about The Giver and you’ll get a strong response.  For many young people, The Giver is the first book they read that truly talks up to them.  It demands a level of both outward observation and inward reflection that is new and, judging from the passion so many feel for the book, thrilling.  Why was it so clear to me the book wanted to be an opera?  First and last, it is filled with musical moments.  Every time the Giver transmits a memory to Jonas there is an outpouring of descriptive text crying out to be turned into orchestral music.  There is no stage action:  only music.  Every time Jonas has a moment of reflection or realization, this is the expression of the inner voice that is the very stuff of opera.  The characters each have utterly distinct voices – including Mother, Father, Lily, Fiona, Asher - who sang to me in distinct rhythms and styles.  The vagaries of the story itself, its largeness and opacity, the fact that much about The Community is not articulated, the continuous thread of question marks for both Jonas and the audience, all these are made to order for dramatic music theater. 

What the Giver does not have that I needed for this adaptation was a large role for Chorus.  So I invented one.  Or rather, I went back in time to create a piece of theater that the ancient Greeks would find completely familiar.  When we read the novel, we assume – though Lois Lowry never explicitly states – that the story is set in the nebulous future.  But this is just an assumption.  So I have chosen to set the story in the nebulous past. Today is the one day each year that this cautionary story is retold “to our children, to our children’s children.” The Telling, as it is called in the opera, is done by a Greek-style Chorus.  Just as in Euripides, the Chorus frames the narrative we are about to witness; it reveals the thoughts of the characters to us; it discusses events and characters amongst itself, even to the point of squabbling; it entertains us; it carries the action forward, sometimes even physically; it sets the stage and creates theatrical effects; it provides the actor/singers for all but the principal roles. 

One last little note:  Ms. Lowry planted a little throw-away bit in the story that was a sparkling gift to a composer.  During his training, Jonas asks the Giver, When you were my age, “did you see beyond like me?”  And the Giver says, very simply, “No.  I heard beyond,” and they move on to other things.  Well, the fact that the Giver retains musical memories was just too compelling to pass up.  I had a lot of fun with Beethoven’s Ode to Joy (keep your ear on the Community’s ‘Patriotic Hymn’.)  Listen also for Mozart’s Voi ché sapete, a bit of Schumann’s Märchenbilder, a little Brahms Symphony #2, and a beautiful American folk song.  Some are obvious, some not so much.   Thank you, Ms. Lowry, for agreeing with me that music is part of what makes us human.

from the publisher:

An inspired collection of short stories by an all-star cast of best-selling storytellers based on the thought-provoking illustrations in Chris Van Allsburg’s The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.

For more than twenty-five years, the illustrations in the extraordinary Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg have intrigued and entertained readers of all ages. Thousands of children have been inspired to weave their own stories to go with these enigmatic pictures. Now we’ve asked some of our very best storytellers to spin the tales. Enter The Chronicles of Harris Burdick to gather this incredible compendium of stories: mysterious, funny, creepy, poignant, these are tales you won’t soon forget.

This inspired collection of short stories features many remarkable, best-selling authors in the worlds of both adult and children's literature: Sherman Alexie, M.T. Anderson, Kate DiCamillo, Cory Doctorow, Jules Feiffer, Stephen King, Tabitha King, Lois Lowry, Gregory Maguire, Walter Dean Myers, Linda Sue Park, Louis Sachar, Jon Scieszka, Lemony Snicket, and Chris Van Allsburg himself.

Van Allsburg's Harris Burdick illustrations have evoked such wonderment and imagination since Harris Burdick's original publication in 1984; many have speculated or have woven their own stories to go with his images. More than ever, the illustrations send off their eerie call for text and continue to compel and pick at the reader's brain for a backstory—a threaded tale behind the image. In this book, we've collected some of the best storytellers to spin them.

(This illustration is my assigned story, titled "The Seven Chairs")

from The Washington Post:


For young adults: ‘The Chronicles of Harris Burdick’ go bump in the night


By Mary Quattlebaum, Published: October 4




14 Amazing Authors Tell the Tales


Illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg


Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. $24.99.
Ages 10-14


Stories of zombies and vampires may be the obvious choice for a Halloween read, but the 14 surreal tales in this book offer a far more subtle and nape-tingling experience. Each of the authors — Kate DiCamillo, Cory Doctorow and even horror master Stephen King — has penned a story to accompany a given black-and-white illustration by Caldecott medalist Chris Van Allsburg. These detailed images and their cryptic captions were first published by Van Allsburg in “The Mysteries of Harris Burdick” (1984), with an introduction that describes them as the work of the strangely vanished (and fictional) title character. Lemony Snicket (nom de plume of the creator of “A Series of Unfortunate Events”) extends that metafictional conceit in his clever introduction to this volume by musing on the “true” identity — Burdick, perhaps? — of these 14 authors. It’s all brain candy for bright middle-schoolers. The tales themselves are a mixed bag of tricks, treats and tones. Jon Scieszka turns in a fast-paced, macabre meditation on a menacing bump in a rug, while Sherman Alexie relays a harrowing account of an empty dress and the power of lies. Gregory Maguire works witty fairy-tale magic in a contemporary story set in Venice. All these tales are a pleasure to ponder. But Louis Sachar’s wistful connection between a ghostly sea captain and a fatherless boy along with Lois Lowry’s riff on a floating chair most gracefully mirror the spirit of Van Allsburg’s haunting pictures.