Lois Lowry's Blog

Welcome!

Lois Lowry

Lois Lowry

Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet

why does a rhino cross the road?

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 26 May 2009
in Uncategorized

Rhino in road

I don't know the answer to WHY but I can testify that they DO and that one certainly gives them the right of way.  I am writing this from  northwest South Africa, where yesterday I visited a second grade class in a primary school in a small Zulu village.  About 45 children with just one teacher, and as I neared the classroom I could hear them singing the traditional "A B C D E F G" song---they start learning English very young--- enthusiastically.

They were lovely kids, all grins and giggles, and it is easy to see how one could fall into the Madonna/Angelina syndrome and want to take a few home.

SA schoolchildren

I am in the town of Hluhluwe, which I can in no way pronounce. The landscape is vast and breathtaking, the people warm and welcoming, the poverty and unemployment heartbreaking. The night sky is incredible and makes me remember the Kurt Weill song "Lost in the Stars" from Alan Paton's book "Cry the Beloved Country" which deals with the days of Apartheid here.

...
Tags: Untagged

packing

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 19 May 2009
in Uncategorized

Fire__1242630394_9846

On Saturday the Mormon Church just down the street from us caught fire and burned.  My friend who lives next door---VERY close---was  in her kitchen at the time, and was ordered out by the fire chief, who said that her house was likely going to go.  It was the classic what-to-save situation. She said she looked around and realized that it was all "just stuff."  She took her laptop and her cell phone.

And she was lucky because her house is unscathed.  Eventually some salvaged valuables from the church were stored briefly in her house---but she said, "Lots of paintings of Jesus. I wonder if he felt comfortable in our Jewish household."  After a while Jesus was moved to the Friends Meeting House nearby and presumably will stay there---among friends--- for a while.

I have just come back from Dubuque, Iowa, a quick trip---a flight out there, a speech in the evening, and a flight home the next day.  But it was a nice time. A good crowd, interesting poeple and a lovely city.

Then, last night, here in Cambridge, a wonderful fund-raising event headed by writer Alice Hoffman, She does this almost every year, to raise money for the Hoffman Breast Center at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge. Alice was treated there for breast cancer some years ago, and now, in part because of her incredible fund-raising,  it is a world-class facility and has been a source of healing and hope for many, mnay women.

...
Tags: Untagged

more than the Riot Act

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 12 May 2009
in Uncategorized

Riot act


This is the front of a Mothers Day card from my son Ben.  The inside says: "Thanks for reading us more than the riot act"---and it's amazing that he found such an apt card (four children two girls and two boys)--okay, so we never had the ugly lamp or the ugly wallpaper or the ugly drapes...but we certainly had the nightly story-reading and the giggles pictured here.

But I am thinking of another child, a little boy named Anthony, who spent three summers with our family. On  the anniversary of Brown.v. Board of Education, a book called LINDA BROWN, YOU ARE NOT ALONE anthologized stories related to that momentous decision. I wrote about Anthony for that book, now out of print; and I'll copy my contribution here.




ANTHONY


“He’s crying. We were playing keepaway and he just started to cry.” My children, all four of them, came thundering  through the back door into the kitchen, where I was stirring spaghetti sauce. “What should we do?”

...
Tags: Untagged

Ring! Riiinnngg!

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Friday, 08 May 2009
in Uncategorized

I drove up to Maine yesterday and when I got here and set up my laptop realized that I didn't have the power cord.  I'd planned to work on several things but realized that I wouldn't be able to, once the battery was depleted,  so had decided to go home two days early----then, luckily, I found the cord in an obscure pocket of my bag.  So all is well, except that I am appalled at how dependent I am upon the computer.

It is 7:30 AM and I have been up for two hours. Martin is still asleep, and so is Andy, my stepson who came with us for the weekend (and with whom I am going to see "Star Trek" this afternoon).  But Alfie wanted to go out at 5:30, and I went with him; I didn't want to let him run loose at that hour because he might bark and annoy the neighbors.  So I wandered around at the end of the leash while he peed and sniffed, and munched some grass and then barfed, in the mysterious way of dogs. Now he is sound asleep on the couch in the studio where I work, and I am wide awake.

At 6:20 AM I heard what sounded a gunshot in the distance.  I looked at my watch when I heard it because I envisioned being questioned by the police. If the local once-a-week paper says "Local resident killed by gun sometime Saturday morning" I will step forward and testify.

I was in Philadelphia earlier this week in order to meet with the theater director who will be directing "Gossamer" at the People's Light and Theater during their 2009-2010 season, and to speak to their subscribers at an event Tuesday night. Flew home in time to introduce M.T. Anderson when he was awarded the St. Botolph Foundation Distinguished Artist Award Thursday night and to hear him make a brilliant speech. At dinner, afterward, conversation turned to old movies, especially old "noir" films, and I mentioned having recently rented and watched "The Postman Always Rings Twice"---the old version, with Lana Turner and John Garfield---and Susan Cooper, sitting across the table from me, said, "Oh, I think my husband was in that!" (Susan was married to the late Hume Cronym) ---and it is true; he was; he appears late in the film, after the murder; he plays a lawyer.  But isn't that an odd coincidence, that I would have rented and watched a 1946 movie and then mentioned it while sitting across from the wife of...well.  Coincidence is what makes life interesting.

"Their Love was a Flame that Destroyed!" says the poster advertising the film. They just don't make them like this any more.

Post

Tags: Untagged

Teach Me

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 02 May 2009
in Uncategorized

I read this  in this morning's NY Times Magazine and was so moved by it that I thought at first I would direct everyone how to find it online.  Then I decided to simply copy it here. This may, of course, violate copyright law.   But not to make it accessible seems to violate some other law of the heart.


The New York Times

May 3, 2009

Without a Prayer

By MAGGIE ROBBINS

...
Tags: Untagged

A few words about a few words

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Friday, 01 May 2009
in Uncategorized

I am in the middle of some finishing-up, some final work on a manuscript that I will give to my editor when we meet for lunch on Monday.

But no one can work on one thing non-stop and so I take breaks from time to time.  Today, over lunch, I picked up and read a few pages of a book I recently bought after reading a review.  The book is called THE HOUSEKEEPER AND THE PROFESSOR, by Yoko Ogawa. 

Ogawa book



I have not read very far, but already I love this book, and the spare quality of its prose---a little like a Japanese garden or house: everything placed exactly right, no excess at all.

Here (to my mind) are three perfect sentences:

...
Tags: Untagged

Saint (l); Sinner (r)

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 29 April 2009
in Uncategorized

Yesterday afternoon two things happened in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I live.

One, the Dalai Lama made a speech.  Two, a branch of Bank of America was robbed at gunpoint.

DL copy

Globe copy





Guess which event I was at.  The wrong one.

...
Tags: Untagged

Penguins Lead the List

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 26 April 2009
in Uncategorized

Once again "And Tango Makes Three" has led the ALA list of "Most Challenged Books" this year.  For those of you  who been locked in  a  soundproof room for the last decade, this book is the true story of two male chinstrap penguins at the Central Park Zoo who, after they had been best pals for several years, were seen trying to hatch a rock that vaguely resembled an egg. Zookeepers gave them the second egg from another couple, and the two males hatched and raised the baby, thereby becoming the kind of caring family we wish every child in the world could have. 

200px-Tangopenguin

(None of my books is on the current top ten list, though at the moment "The Giver" is under fire in Nashua, New Hampshire).

The SLJ Battle of the Books is entering its final two weeks, with judges Linda Sue Park and Chris Crutcher selecting the two from which I have to choose the winner.  I was insane to agree to playing that role, which guarantees that I will be hated and reviled by half the people following the battle.  My own personal favorite got dumped early on, waahhh.  But the truth is, every book in the running is a winner.

And even though it is not a contender in this particular contest, I hereby declare "And Tango makes Three" a champion.

 
Tags: Untagged

interviews, contests, etc

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 21 April 2009
in Uncategorized

Here is one Q and A from an interview with me that can be found at the Abbeville Press website (actually, at their blog, called Abbeville Manual of Style). 

AMoS: You are the Final Judge for this year’s “Battle of the (Kids’) Books” tournament held by School Library Journal. Do you find it fun or difficult (or both) to judge your fellow authors’ work?

LL: I find it impossible. I once was a judge for the National Book Awards and it just about did me in. However, this “Battle of the Books” thing is an entertainment, more than anything else, and I am treating it as such. All the contending books are brilliant books—none is “better” than another. It’s a circus act, and it’s fun, and at the end I’ll say whether I applauded more at the dancing elephant or the juggling seal. That’s all.


As for the ongoing Battle of the Books, it is narrowing down day by day....you can get to it by going to the School Library Journal and from there to their blog.  (For some reason I can't seem to master the art of inserting a url into a blog post. Sorry.)

...
Tags: Untagged

Scott and Me

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 19 April 2009
in Uncategorized

 Recently I received an invitation to speak in Regina, Saskatchewan.  Of course I said yes.  It is someplace I would never see, otherwise!  But here's the astonishing thing: the invitation was for the spring of 2012.

I am 72 years old.  In the spring of 2012 I'll be 75. Assuming I am still alive. And functional.  This morning's NY Times has an article about Margaret Drabble, who has called it quits, writing-wise, because she is 69 and feels she has nothing left to say.

Scott O'Dell died at 91 and was working on a  new book, I was told by his editor, when he died.  So I am thinking of Scott O'Dell and hoping to emulate him, instead of Margaret Drabble.

And here is a funny Scott O'Dell story,  Two, actually.

In 1979 I was in New York for whatever convention was being held there---probably ALA---and I was invited to a cocktail party honoring Scott O'Dell.  I was in my hotel room, alone, getting dressed to go that party, when I realized that I couldn't reach the middle button on the back of my dress.  It was just at that one place that was unreachable though I contorted myself trying before I gave up.  Finally I decided the heck with it, and I left my room with the button unbuttoned.

...
Tags: Untagged

Glamorous Traveling Life

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Friday, 17 April 2009
in Uncategorized

Wednesday I drove to Augusta, Maine, in order to speak at the 20th annual Reading Round Up of Childrens' and YA Literature on Thursday morning.  I checked into the Holiday Inn beside the Convention Center, got out my laptop, realized it had a low battery, so looked for an outlet in order to plug it in. Nada.  The room's only electrical outlets were one behind the heavy king-sized bed headboard, or the other behind the massive piece of furniture that housed the TV.

SO:  Here is where I spent my evening:

Photo

Tags: Untagged

And this is one way in which I waste time...

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Sunday, 12 April 2009
in Uncategorized

This morning I found myself mentally switching lead sentences in the NY Times  so that the wrong photos appeared. For example:

12filkins.1901

WASHINGTON — And now there are four. In the space of a week, the number of states allowing same-sex marriage has doubled, with Iowa and then Vermont joining Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Okay, we all know (don't we? don't we?) that that photo is of Richard Holbrooke, envoy to the Mideast, talking to the foreign minister of Pakistan---it is not Travis and Geoff exchanging vows on Fire Island.

It is a mindless way to waste some Sunday morning time while a hundred miles away my grandsons are hunting for Easter eggs and riding their bikes.

...
Tags: Untagged

Bulking Up

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Friday, 10 April 2009
in Uncategorized

Okay, this is just an example of how my mind works---fluttering hither and yon.

I was sitting here at my desk typing away on a book manuscript.  I needed to mention a residential neighborhood in Tokyo, and I wanted to be sure to get it right, so I went (courtesy of Google) to a map of Tokyo.

I once lived in Tokyo, so I was not starting from scratch, but as I looked around that map, I found not only the neighborhood I wanted (so should have stopped right there, confirmed the spelling, closed down the Tokyo map, and gone back to work) , but---there was mention of Ryogoku, the section of Tokyo where the Sumo wrestlers live and train, and that brought back some memories.

In 1995 Martin and I traveled around Japan for a couple of weeks---just tourists.  During our time in Tokyo we had a chance (promising to sit very quietly, the same promise we had to make once when we attended a murder trial at Old Bailey in London) to watch young Sumo wrestlers training.  Following that, we wwent to a restaurant run by a retired Sumo wrestler (well, what else would a retired super-fat guy do?) where we were served a very hearty—and delicious—stew called Chonko-nabe.

Several days later we were in another part of Japan, very rural and mountainous. And while we were walking through a particularly scenic area, suddently there were throngs of uniformed schoolchildren, middle school age, apparently on a field trip.

...
Tags: Untagged

E.B. White Award

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 08 April 2009
in Uncategorized

EB White AWard copy

The E.B. White Read Aloud Awards, established in 2004, honor books that reflect the universal read aloud standards that were created by the work of the author E.B. White in his classic books for children: Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and The Trumpet of the Swan.

In the first two years of the award, a single book was selected.

In 2006, in recognition of the fact that reading aloud is a pleasure at any age, the award was expanded into two categories: Picture Books, and Older Readers.

Books are nominated for their universal appeal as a “terrific” book to read aloud.

...
Tags: Untagged

Journey for Margaret

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 07 April 2009
in Uncategorized

My friend Margaret from Minnesota has just left after a lovely 5-day visit in which I made her eat too much and watch too many movies and become addicted to "In Treatment." (And now she will have to undergo withdrawal because she doesn't have HBO back home).

Margaret and I are the same age and at one point we became the founding (and only) members of the Margaret O'Brien Fan Club. There is practically no one left who can recite the titles of M O'B movies; when Margaret and I die, this bit of 1940's trivia will be lost..

Here is what she brought me as a gift:

Polly


Margaret journeyed here from St. Paul but that is not what the title of this post refers to. No, it is Margaret O'Brien's first movie, made when she was four years old, a true tear-jerker. There are few people living who remember it.

Tags: Untagged

Battle of the Books

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 31 March 2009
in Uncategorized
  • SLJ Kicks Off Its First Annual Battle of the Books
    School Library Journal is about to launch its first annual Battle of the (Kids’) Books contest. What is it, you ask? Call it a book war. Lois Lowry, Jon Scieszka, Linda Sue Park, and John Green are just some of your favorite authors who’ll be judging the contest, which pits 16 of last year’s best books for young people against each other.

This will be a bit like March Madness (did you see that last-5-seconds win of Villanova over Pitt Saturday night?!) with 16 books starting out, and books being dropped on each round...and I get to judge the final round!  So people will either hate or love me when it's over.  But it is all in fun, and the books have all been chosen because they were the best of 2008, so there won't really be any losers here.

The battle begins on April 13th and will conclude with the selection of the winner on May 5th.


Tags: Untagged

Crow Call

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 31 March 2009
in Uncategorized

I have been given the okay to show people the jacket of the book that will be published next fall....


Crow Call

Bagram Ibatoulline's art is so lush and beautiful (sorry I got the scan a little crooked!) and from this jacket you can guess how gorgeous the inside pages are.  But for those: you'll have to wait until the book is published!

Tags: Untagged

Sorry, I don't want to sleep with you...

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 28 March 2009
in Uncategorized

...but don't take it personally.

It's come to this. Sob.  Alfie, whose (monogrammed) bed is at the foot of mine, declined even to climb the stairs last night at bedtime.

He wanted to sleep with his visiting German Shepherd friend, Sophie, who was occupying a downstairs guest room.

IMG_3653


They met as puppies (see photo) and have been buddies every since. Now, at 3 years old, Sophie towers over Alfie.  But last night they curled up together like the old friends they are,  And I, sob, slept alone.

Tags: Untagged

Boston International High School

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Friday, 27 March 2009
in Uncategorized

I am now in Maine, where last evening 15 deer strolled across my meadow nibbling on exposed grass now that the snow is melting.  I tried to take a photo but don't have my camera here, and the cell phone couldn't get a good picture in the dim light and at some distance.  Both dogs---Alfie, and his German Shepherd friend Sophie, who is visiting--- stood silently and watched. The deer were aware of the dogs, and didn't care---and the dogs were aware of the deer and more curious than hostile.

Before I came up here, on Wednesday, I had a lovely visit to Boston International High School---all students for whom English is a new language, in some cases quite new.  They were attentive, interested, polite, and in every way fun to be with.  And generous,too, with a gift of flowers (see photo) and an album of their own writings.

Girl school

Class 3:27

And now I am in Maine, where this morning the furnace guy tended the furnace and now the plumber is here doing some tune-up on an annoying toilet. My friend Kay, Sophie-the-dog's mom, is at work in another room (she's a professor at Harvard) , and I am here in my studio, and we have both vowed to work hard and not be distracted by dogs or plumbers or the NY Times or deer.




Tags: Untagged

Names

Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 25 March 2009
in Uncategorized

Okay, it is no secret that I am fascinated by names, that I love naming book characters, that my own children have had to curb my impulse to name their babies, and that even dogs, my own and other people's, are not exempt from my need to baptize.

But recently, in signing books in Florida, I encountered something I've not seen before.  A teenage girl had a name---I've forgotten what it was---that ended in an A.  The letter A. Let's say it was something like Alyssa.

I wrote "For Alyssa" in her book---spelling it correctly, not Elyssa or Alissa, because I have learned the hard way that I must ask them to write their names for me so that I get it right---otherwise, they sometimes cry, if I misspell.

So I wrote "For Alyssa" above my signature and handed it back to her---but she said, "There's an accent over the A" and handed it back.  I looked at what she had written on her post-it  and sure enough, there was a little mark of some sort over the final A.

So I was to make it "Alyssá"  as in voilá.  Go figure. Well, what the heck. I added the accent mark.

...
Tags: Untagged