Lois Lowry's Blog
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:
And here is the entire cast sitting on the edge of the stage, answering questions from the audience:
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:
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:...
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...
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.
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....
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....
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.
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....
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....
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!
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...
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
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:
...ANYPLACE THAT IS NOT NEW ENGLAND IN OCTOBER!
My son just sent this from his weekend at Moosehead Lake in Maine...
An article in this morning's NY Times tells of a woman who has taken on a self-imposed challenge, to read a book a day for a year. Not surprisingly, she reads quickly, as I do (the misfortune of that for me, is that I don't retain a lot of what I read) Thinking about it, I went to my KIndle and counted the number of downloaded books---170; and that list began in March, 2008, so those 170 books were over the course of 19 months. Math time: That comes to about 9 books a month. Then, of course, I also read "real" books, and I have no way of counting those. I'm going to guess those came to another 4 books per month. That's a book every two and a half days. Sounds about right.
Also in the NY Times, today...this in the on-line version---a video about a family in Pakistan, displaced from their home in Swat during the Pakistani Military action against the Taliban, The father ran a school for girls, and his daughter was a wonderfully articulate (and fluent in English) 12-year-old. She spoke of the frustration of having nothing to read, when she was being moved from household to household as the family looked for safe places to stay.
Just yesterday I had two 12-year-olds here, Martin's twin granddaughters (they'll be thirteen at Thanksgiving)---one talked of how much she loved "Hunger Games," which I had given her on her last birthday, and now loves its sequel (Darn. I had bought it and put it away for her coming birthday, but she's already read it)
And Saturday, in Maine, I had breakfast with my own two grandsons, and they talked about what they are reading (all my grandchildren know what topic interests me most)..the 11 year old boy is in the middle of the Spiderwick Chronicles, and the 8-year-old absorbed in Stone Fox.
And me? One of my 13 books this month? BROOKLYN, by Colm Toibin....
Adventure Stage in Chicago has recently started rehearsals for "Gossamer" and this is from their blog:
There's something incredibly powerful about assembling a group of
people in a room around one idea. Tuesday night was the first rehearsal
of Gossamer, and we had tons of incredibly talented people (actors,
designers, directors, technicians, staff, etc.) all on stage sitting
around a giant table, talking about the show and how it would look.
After touching base with all of the actors and introducing ourselves,
there was a gigantic design presentation with visuals of the set, the
costumes, the lighting and the puppets. We heard clips from a very
exciting sound design, and saw projections of images that will be used
to support the story.
But by far the most exciting part of the evening was the read through that followed. It was amazing to be able to hear so many talented actors bringing the story to life, even while still sitting at the table. After seeing the design elements, and all the possibilities, hearing the play read out loud made it take on a new life. Afterward, everyone left the space feeling energized and excited to start work on this show.
Well, the Ravens didn't slink off the playing field muttering "Nevermore" yesterday, but they DID get beaten by the Patriots, and I was right there on the 50-yard-line enjoying every minute.
This photo (pre-game) shows nothing except how very good my seat was. Many thanks to the Kraft family, who own the Patriots, and who have an almost-11-year-old granddaughter who is a book-lover.
I remember high school football games from my adolescent years (until I went to an all-girls school for my final two years of high school) and I remember being COLD. Games were on Friday nights and thogh we bundled up, it seems in my memory as if my feet always froze.
When I was in junior high school, in Tokyo, my older sister's boyfriend was a football star. Funny, I remember that his number was 41----that goes back 60 years! The games were played in Meiji Stadium, in Tokyo, which had been built for the pre-war Olympics; and during the summers we swam almost every day in the Olympic pool there---I seem to remember that we could walk there from our house, but I could be wrong---maybe we took some sort of bus. Even as kids (I was 11, 12, and 13 in Tokyo) we made our way everywhere by bus and train, and sometimes bike, very easily and safely....
This is such a gorgeous time of year in New England and I wish I could have stayed up in Maine longer, but had too many trips to make this fall. (And a Patriots game to go to tomorrow!)
But my son took his two boys, 8 and 11, and three mountain bikes, up to Acadia National Park for the weekend. (Luckily they have a hotel with an indoor swimming pool because the weather forecast was for rain today). For those of you who don't know Acadia---or haven't watched the Ken Burns series on National Parks this week ---it is one of the truly beautiful places in the USA, maybe the world; and we have several billionaires, including John D. Rockefeller, to thank for its existence.
Apparently the guys are undaunted so far by bad weather because my son just sent these two photos from his iPhone:
I know, it should be whom.
Whom it is, is KUZO. I got home from Washington and Baltimore Sunday evening. On Monday my brother and his wife arrived for a visit, from Virginia. When we talked about this visit a while back, they asked if they could bring their pet and I said sure. We like pets, in this house. Alfie likes other peoples' pets as playmates.
Here is Alfie, getting to know Kuzo..
The National Book Festival was fun, despite bad weather. Hundreds of people stood in line, in the rain, for hours, to get books signed, and it made me feel as if the future of literature and books is in good shape....
I just took this with my iPhone, and realized that A) you can see me reflected in the door, and B) you can get a glimpse of Alfie looking out through the door, wondering what the heck I am doing.
What I was doing was recording the annual fall spectacle of my coleus (thank you, White Flower Farm) at its so-magnificent height that the mailman has trouble getting to the mail slot (there is a second equally huge coleus on the other side of the door). One morning soon, though, it will all have frozen, shriveled, and died....
At the conference I just attended in Idaho, Eric Rohmann talked about childhood memories. When it was my turn, I also talked a bit about memory, as I frequently do, in talking about The Giver. I ended up, after I came home, thinking a lot about the same topic---and that led me to archives in my computer, and a couple of pictures that my daughter did when she was studying art. (Actually, she still studies art, but these pictures date from some time ago.) I don't know what -- if any -- the assignment was. But she did a drawing and then a painting of the view from her childhood window. So she was looking back, in her memory, probably 30 years.
The first one, a pencil sketch, is realistic in a folk-arty sort of way; her bedroom window overlooked a driveway that ended in a garage/barn. This was in Maine, so there was snow on the ground for many months of the year, as there is in her sketch.