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Top 10

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Wednesday, 09 December 2009
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I have just been notified that my recent book is listed among "Top 10 Children's Books" in a list created by (or for) Time Magazine:

Top 10 copy

I am certainly in good company (including that of several friends) on that list. But throwing the whole enterprise into a dubious perspective is the awareness of what OTHER Top 10 lists Time is publishing:

for example: "Top 10 Scandals," which includes David Letterman and Tiger Woods; "Top 10 Untruths", which includes Balloon Boy;  "Top Songs," of which the first is "My Life Would Suck Without You" by Kelly Clarkson;  "Top 10 Fleeting Celebrities" (Susan Boyle; Octomom); and "Top 10 Feuds: (Gosselin vs. Gosselin).

You get the picture.

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Il Pleut.

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Saturday, 28 November 2009
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I know someone who has an umbrella that says "Merde. Il pleut"on it, and I wish I had one just like it.  Today, in Paris, il pleut, but it is only a fine drizzle, and not cold, so it was not unpleasant walking. We spent the morning at the Musée Rodin, which we have been to in the past, but right now they have a special exhibition showing the relationship between Rodin and Matisse, which was quite interesting, once we mastered the audio and got it to talk to us in English, not French.

The gardens surrounding that museum are lovely, and right now, in almost December, still filled with late roses.

Images Le Penseur sits there not minding the rain.

We had lunch at a nearby café and found ourselves seated elbow-to-elbow with a pleasant elderly couple who spoke no English but the wife wanted to converse, maybe because when she ordered the quiche and a glass of Sancerre, I duplicated her order---in fact, just told the waiter "La meme chose" ---the equivalent of the wonderful line in "When Harry Met Sally": "I'll have what she's having."   So while the men concentrated on their lunch, pointedly ignoring the women, (maybe even rolling les yeux), she told me (in French) that they have a daughter in Phoenix, and I was able to reply brilliantly in French that it is very hot in Phoenix in summer, and she agreed, Oui Oui; then I was able to get across that we live in Boston, where it is very cold in winter, and she pretended to be fascinated by the weather report and the fact that I learned how to say the four seasons in high school French class.

We did not progress to world events, or even to what it might be like in spring in Baltimore.

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Bon jour

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Friday, 27 November 2009
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CZ9253200

This is the quite small (36 room) hotel where Martin and I are spending three days before going on to Germany.  We've been in Paris before, even once rented a flat here, but this time decided to stay in a part of the city that we don't know well, and so ended up here in the 15th arrondissement, on a quiet side street very near the Eiffel Tower. And since we didn't come this time to sight-see, mostly we have just been taking walks, scoping out the neighborhood, and are impressed with the parks and gardens everywhere. It would be a nice area to live in. Late this afternoon we watched parents waiting outside a primary school, for their kiddies to be let out: some moms actually carrying loaves of bread, and the little ones all in toggle coats---as if they had all been cast in a Truffaut film like "L'Argent du Poche"  which portrayed French children so beautifully.

Post2

At noon today we found a brasserie and had moules --- mussels --- enough to feed an army; we couldn't finish.

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City of Brotherly Love

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Sunday, 22 November 2009
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I came scarily close to missing my flight to Philadelphia yesterday morning. The plane was scheduled to leave at 7:15 and so I had booked my car service (this is the one hugely extravagant thing in my life. I use a car service to and from the airport) to pick me up at 6 AM. Which it did, of course--they are always on time, unlike taxis, and always know what route to take (unlike taxis. These are the reasons why I use the car service, these plus the fact that I don't have to listen to the drivers' political views, or sit white-knuckled as they speed)

So. My driver dropped me at the airport at 6:20, and because I had forgotten to do so from my own computer, i had to get my US Airways boarding pass from a kiosk, and then it was 6:25. And that's when I discovered the line at security. MILES long.  I had not anticipated the number of families headed, the Saturday before Thanksgiving, to the Caribbean.  Gulp.  Having no other options that I could think of, I got in the line, which was interminable and apparently unmoving. I stood there, inching forward,  until it was 6:40---my plane was to start boarding at 6:45---and there were still zillions of people, most with strollers and golf clubs, ahead of me.

Then I thought of a possible solution---scary because it meant giving up my place in line, and by now there were a hundred people, at least, behind me.  But I thought I remembered that from the US Airways Shuttle to NY or DC , at the other end of the terminal, you could in fact get to the regular gates by a back route. So I scurried there, and indeed there were few people n the security line, because people aren't making business trips at 7 on a Saturday morning. Whew. I made my way through, and indeed found my way around to the regular gates, and got to my plane, which was, by then, half boarded, in time.

And now I am in Philadelphia. Last weekend at a hotel in Connecticut, I did what I always automatically do in a hotel room, which is to look at the little map of emergency exits on the back of the door. Last weekend was the first time I have actually been called upon to groggily remember that information, when I had to leave the hotel at 2 AM as the fire engines pulled up.

Here, I wonder why bother studying the map! I am on the 29th floor. It does make for a great view of the city:

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Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Friday, 20 November 2009
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Just an update, since I had mentioned on the blog that my son Ben had been selected to play for the New England team at the over-30 Baseball World Championship series held last week in Florida.

Ben Baseball

Here's Ben. The New England team lost in the semi-final round so they did not emerge as the champions, but Ben, who played second base and shortstop, said it was all wonderful fun---well, here's his actual description:

 I got back from the Fall Classic in West Palm last night and wanted to let you know what a great experience it was.  The New England team, made up of 15 guys from Maine, NH and Mass (and called “The Maine Diamond Dogs”) lost in the semi-finals, 3-1, to a team from New Jersey.  Along the way, we beat the Puerto Rican team in the 6000 seat main stadium, which was the highlight of the trip.  I also got the chance to play next to John Collins, an old friend from Colby, which was great.  Our team finished with 3 wins and 2 losses.  I batted cleanup and hit .333 for the tournament, playing shortstop and second base.  No, no home runs. I also got a chance to play against Dante Bichette, a former major league all-star who holds most of the all-time records for the Colorado Rockies and finished his career in Boston.  Fun stuff, for sure.

His two sons tend to use the very descriptive word "funnest." I think it might apply to Ben's baseball week.

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Note to Kids

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Thursday, 19 November 2009
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Kids: If you want to send me an email with a  question or comment about one of my books...the blog is not the place to do that. Instead, click on "E-mail me" at the top of my website. Thanks!
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Crisp November weather

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Wednesday, 18 November 2009
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Here is Alfie, in his hunting-season garb, so that his white-tipped tail wagging in the underbrush won't be mistaken for that of a deer.

Alfie, hunting season

Here's Susan Goodman a few minutes ago, snagging some of the last apples for yet one more dessert.

Susan picking

and here is Alfie again, munching on leftovers.

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Writers in Pajamas

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Monday, 16 November 2009
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First, before explaining the odd title to this post; here is the photo of the Literature to Life Award given to me last week in NYC by the American Place Theatre:

Lit to Life Award

As you can see, it is quite lovely, engraved with a passage from THE GIVER.  i went on after that occasion from New York to Chicago, for the opening of the play GOSSAMER, which has received absolutely wonderful reviews. From the photo on my previous post, you can see why: the staging and design was quite magical.

Following Chicago, I went to Albany---more about that trip in another post---and then to the annual Children's Book Fair at the University of Connecticut. There was a very nice dinner, and a chance to meet the other authors and illustrators, plus the staff of the Dodd Center there -- a fine collection of children's literature original materials---and also those hard-workers who run the book fair each year, quite an undertaking.

We visitors all stayed in the Nathan Hale Inn, where at 2:15 AM the fire alarm went off. That was the time and place where, in a misty drizzle, one could observe some of the finest people in the field, in their pajamas.  In my haste to leave my room I left my iPhone behind and so could not take pictures. But illustrator Diane DeGroat did, and threatened to post them on Facebook. I fear they won't be terribly revelatory because it was the traditional dark and rainy night---the only lights from two large fire engines. Eventually we were allowed to return to our rooms; no explanation of what the firefighters found or fought. Could a children's book author perhaps have been SMOKING! Yikes!

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What did Littlest look like?

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Monday, 09 November 2009
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Gossamer Littlest

Behind her, Thin Elderly, her mentor. And behind him, The Heap.

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Break a Leg!

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Sunday, 08 November 2009
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The opening performance of "Gossamer" at the Adventure Stage Chicago was an absolute treat: the staging, costumes, set, and the individual performances all went together so smoothly and made for a magical 90 minutes and a completely rapt audience.

These couple of pictures are dreadful because I was using my iPhone while sitting on the stage afterward, with no light in some areas and too much in others. But here, photographed badly, is Toby, the dog, operated by Kasey Foster, who brought a semi-puppet to vigorous and endearing life:

Toby the dog

And here is the entire cast sitting on the edge of the stage, answering questions from the audience:

Cast post play

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That Toddlin' Town

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Thursday, 05 November 2009
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Now I am in Chicago, staying at a B&B called Ray's Bucktown B&B, subtitled o its business cards "Not Your Parents' B&B"---of course what Ray, the proprietor, doesn't realize is that I AM my parents, or even my grandparents.

I don't know this city well, or its neighborhoods, but "Bucktown" seems to be a funky/artsy neighborhood, and therefore, I suppose, would not be the choice of those "parents" accustomed to The Four Seasons. But I like it. Tonight I am on my own and walked around checking out the restaurants, looking for a place to eat, and ended up in one named BRISTOL, about two blocks from Ray's. The list of entrees was daunting enough that I photographed it with my iPhone:

Menu

I was not adventurous---okay, I was a coward---and had the chicken. The pig tail was tempting, though.

Then, back in my room, I signed a batch of posters for tomorrow's play:

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To NYC tomorrow

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Sunday, 01 November 2009
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I got home yesterday frm Keene, NH, after a busy Saturday at the Keene State College Book Festival, which David White has been running for---I think he said 38 years. (Can that be? He isn't old enough, surely!) I have been several times before, and it is always fun, with an enthusiastic audience  (500 this year) and varied, always interesting speakers...(this year surprisingly, all female: Katherine Paterson, Jane Yolen, Lita Judge, Beth Krommes, along with me.)  A squirrel performed a self-immolation on a transformer and caused a power outage of an hour or so but everyone re-grouped and made the best of it. And dinner was roast beef, not barbequed squirrel, despite many jokes about the possibility of the latter.

Tomorrow I head to NYC and here, lifted from the newspaper there, is why:

The American Place Theatre

The Giver: Theatrical Premiere And 2009 Literature To Life Award Event

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Wild Rumpus

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Thursday, 29 October 2009
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Well, I have now seen "Where the Wild Things Are"  Everyone I had talked to had a different opinion---reviews are mixed---and I went at it with an open mind.

Wild things 2

The little boy playing Max was wonderful.  And the visual effects spectacular.

But I have to admit I didn't like it.  I wanted to. It has been a great favorite of my younger son, who still, in his 40s, treasures his childhood edition which, many years later, Maurice  signed and decorated for him.

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Getting ready for winter

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Tuesday, 27 October 2009
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IMG_2240

My gardening crew---all women---were here today, putting everything to bed, covering things with mulch, getting ready for, ugh, snow.  I've had Lucia and her crew working here for the past 8 years and I love how strong they are, how tireless, how cheerful.

My own daughter, my younger one, runs a business that is usually done only by men. She removes paint from various things but specializes in antique cars. So she is trim and strong as can be and very proud, rightly, of being an expert at such a demanding job.

It is very cool to see women loving hard work and doing it well.

And speaking of women: today is my granddaughter's 16th birthday. And darn it, the gift that I was so excited about sending her...which was mailed 3 weeks ago to Germany...has not arrived yet. Martin and I are going over there late in November, so we can take a duplicate if it has been lost in the mail. But I suspect it will show up in a few days. It's just disappointing that it wasn't there for the big day. More for me than for her!  Hiss boo to the postal service.

Today was not a full day of work because I was feeling kind of crummy with this cold and ended up napping this afternoon.  Did the trick, apparently, because this evening I am feeling pretty good and suspect that I'll be fine tomorrow. And they are predicting rain, so it won't be tempting to go outside...  I'll get lots done.

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up north

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Tuesday, 27 October 2009
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I drove up here, to Maine, yesterday, listening to the Patriots on the car radio en route, and arriving at just the time of day on a late fall day when the shadows are long and seem almost golden in the reflection of the trees. The lake water is deep blue and the air is crisp.

Farm in October

I am snuffling with a cold but that's okay because I have no commitments this week, no one to sneeze on, no speeches to cough through. I came to spend the week alone, working. And this morning I opened up one of the three manuscripts that have been in the throes of neglect, and started in.

It seems odd to be here without the dog---I think it's the first time. And I'm aware of it when I walk from one room to another, and realize nobody has gone on full alert (She's leaving the room! I must follow!) And when I drove into town to get a newspaper, no one ran out and stood by the car, waiting to jump in.

I left him home both to keep Martin company but also because I will go from here on Friday to Keene, NH, to speak at the annual Children's Book Festival that Keene State College has held for many many years. I've been there twice before.  By then my cold should be over and done, and I'll be able to enjoy being back at Keene. Katherine Paterson will be there, and Jane Yolen. The person I will miss anew is Trina Schart Hyman, who was often at that festival and is so fondly remembered there.

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sniff sniff

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Sunday, 25 October 2009
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Alfie sniffing

This is Alfie. And this is the door leading to our garage fro a sort of mudroom off the kitchen.

No, Alfie does not want to go into the garage. But he is smelling something that is underneath the garage, or the mudroom.  We can't smell it. But it is driving him crazy. He is spending every possible moment standing in this place, nose to the floor, occasionally woofing.

Once, a number of years ago, before The Alf was born, we did have a skunk under the garage. We paid a man $500 to come and trap that sucker.

I don't think this is a skunk, though. We smell nothing remotely skunkish. 

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brag brag brag

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Tuesday, 20 October 2009
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This is my youngest child, my son Ben, who is an attorney in Portland, Maine, and the father of my two grandsons who are almost 9, and 11.  It has been a long time since Ben was a college athlete and baseball star.  But he has, for years, enjoyed playing on local teams---this last summer in an over-30 league. He had quite a record this last season and as it turned out, ended up with a batting average of over 600, and placed #8 in the nation for teams of all ages. He has just been notified that he is to represent New England in the over-30 World Championship in Florida, where teams from all over the world will compete for the title over four days in mid-November.

Fun! Yay, Ben! We'll all be rooting for you!

Son Ben 2

 

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Rhode Island once again

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Monday, 19 October 2009
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The September that I was seventeen years old, I arrived alone by train in Providence, Rhode Island, to begin college. There had, earlier in the fall, been a large hurricane that had flooded downtown Providence, which was still cleaning up and recovering. So it looked pretty crummy---and in truth, after it was cleaned up, it still looked pretty crummy in those days. I was happy to head uphill to Brown University, which was NOT downtown, and which even back then had an attractive campus surrounded by historical residential areas.

"The HIll," as it was---and still is---called, has not changed much. But downtown Providence is very different from the shabby, downtrodden look it had in the 50th.  MUCH upscaled and improved.

On Friday I got off the train once again, this time to attend the Rhode Island Book Festival which is always held at Lincoln School.  I have been to it twice before in its 20 years of existence, and it is always a pleasure to return and see the excitement about books that it generates.  One of the pleasures of such events, for me, is always the chance to see, sometimes once again, sometimes for the first time, authors and illustrators whose work I admire.  This year, the guests at the festival were Etienne Delessert, Mary Downing Hahn, Mary Ann Hoberman, Jerry Pinkney, Brian Selznick, Anita Silvey, Chris Van Allsburg, Padma Venkatraman, Paul Zelinsky, Christopher Paul Curtis

I copied that list from the website of the festival and now for the life of me can't get it smaller. But what the heck. All of those people are stars and deserve a big font.

Here's a photo of me with Paul Zelinsky

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small hands

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Thursday, 15 October 2009
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I just came across, in my computer, this drawing, done by my older daughter, an artist, of her brother's hand and that of his new baby. That baby's birth announcement contained a line from e.e. cummings: nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

Ben and grey copy

That baby is now eleven years old.

But here he is at two and a half, when his little brother was born, and here is THAT birth announcement:

 
Baby rhys copy
Really sweet baby copy
 

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Literature to Life

Posted by Lois Lowry
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on Wednesday, 14 October 2009
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Lit award copy

It appears that his event is sold out. Sorry!

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