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Posted by Lois Lowry
Lois Lowry
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on Saturday, 02 June 2007 in Uncategorized

Thank you to this teacher, named Christy, who sent the following post to me:

I am a first grade teacher who is taking a graduate class in advanced children's literature. As I read through the list of novels to be selected, I spotted your name and Gossamer. When asked if anyone wanted to read Gossamer, my hand went up and I commented that I loved "The Giver" so I was sure this novel would be great! I was not disappointed!! I couldn't put it down once I started reading after cleaning out my classroom to move to another wing. (I was very tired from packing and moving all my belongings and school materials.) This was an excellent book! I hope that the Newbery Medal judges consider this novel as well for the Award. The last chapter discusses changes in one's life. My principal of ten years is retiring and I will be working in a Title I reading position coming this fall. It hit home tonight that I will have a different working environment this fall, but everything I've learned this far has gotten me to this new position. Thank you for writing about how Littlest One - Gossamer learned and changed through the help of her elders.

I do love hearing from teachers...well, actually, I love hearing from anyone to whom my books have had special meaning.

"Gossamer" was published in 2006 so is not a contender for the upcoming Newbery Medal, but I appreciate the thought from Christy!

A word about Newbery Medals, since I am often asked this. When "Number the Stars" was awarded the medal back in 1990, I was completely unaware that it was a contender. I didn't know the committee was meeting, hadn't a clue, and just happened to be sitting at my desk when they called and told me. (The procedure is that the chairperson of the committee calls the author to make the announcment, usually on a speaker phone so the entire committee is listening) I was completely stunned, and probably sounded so on the telephone.

Four years later, it was different. Everyone was talking about "The Giver," predicting the medal, etc. etc. All year I wished they would shut up, stop saying the N word about that book. And by now, in 1994, I knew exactly when that committee was going to meet and make the decision.

I did NOT want to be sitting by my phone, waiting, wondering. As it happend, Martin was retiring that year, and so we began to plan a trip to celebrate his retirement. And we decided to do it in winter, and at the exact time when the ALA convention would be taking place and the Newbery Committee meeting.

So we did that. We flew first to Chile and spent a couple of days there, then across South America to the Falkland Islands (how many people do you know who have said, "Hey! Let's take a vacation! Let's go to the Falkland Islands!"), and there we got on a boat and headed south, with stops at places like Elephant Island. We were gone for a month.

Somewhere down there, in Antarctica, that most desolate and beautiful place on this earth, surrounded by icebergs, whales moving silently beside the boat, the civilized world far behind us (no newspapers, no TV, no laptops), the radio operator of the boat sought me out and handed me a small pink slip of paper. CONGRATULATIONS STOP THE GIVER HAS JUST BEEN AWARDED THE 1994 NEWBERY MEDAL STOP, it said.

It was such a change from the 1990 announcement, with all the attendant frenzy, and me rushing to the airport to fly to NYC to be on the Today show. None of that. My boat moved on, the only out-of-place thing in the enormity of the landscape. I watched a leopard seal emerge suddenly from the water and grab a small penguin who'd been lolling on a floating piece of ice. The sudden red splotch of blood...all that was left of the penguin...was the only color in the pale blue and white, and then it was washed away and gone. Marine birds wheeled across the sky.

I folded the pink paper and put it into the pocket of my jacket. There was a great sense of elation but at the same time of perspective. I doubt if I have ever felt as unimportant as I did during that trip: unimportant in a good, almost exhilirating way: the sense that I was an infinitesimal speck in the universe, as meaningless as plankton.

I try always to remember that.

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Comments

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Kelsey Monday, 29 November 1999

That is exactly why I loved teaching the primary grades. And now that my daughter is three, she comes up with gems of her own. The one cracking me up these days is that she has an imaginary friend named Barbecue. Barbecue has a dog named Prickly. I look forward to reading the Gooney Bird Greene with her one day.

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