|The most unflattering picture of both of us but the best one I got.|
|Lois Lowry while speaking. Unfortunately it was a night of unflattering photos. Anyone want to get me a new camera?|
The character came to her as a twelve year old boy named Jonas. Whenever she thinks of a character they have a name when they come to her. She doesn't have to look up names in the phone book; her characters are born in her imagination with a name. The book had to take place in the future where a perfected community was possible. In the first few pages of Ms. Lowry's books she lets the reader know what the book is about and introduces a problem. She usually starts a book knowing the beginning and vaguely knowing the end but she makes up the middle without an outline because she likes surprises along the way.
Ms. Lowry hadn't planned on writing any sequels. The Giver was to be a stand alone book with an optimistic ending. But kids didn't like the ambiguity of the end. They wanted a concrete answer about Jonas' fate instead of imagining it for themselves (she then blamed TV for the loss of imagination).
The second book Gathering Blue also started with some "What if..." questions. What if a community didn't have the technology to make things better? What if they regressed and didn't have any technology, not even electricity? It is set in the same time period as The Giver but the community is totally opposite. Gathering Blue gave Lois Lowry a chance to let everyone know that Jonas was alive and well, even though it doesn't come right out and say it.
Ms. Lowry always liked the character of Matt in Gathering Blue. The third book Messenger becomes his story as a teenager.
Once people were satisfied with Jonas' well being, they wanted to know what happened to the baby Gabe. And so Son was written. Although it answers questions about Gabe it focuses on his mother's journey to find him. Ms. Lowry told a true story about a family whose four year old son went missing while camping in Maine. No trace of him was ever found. The loss of a child and never knowing what happened prompted Lowry to write Son from Gabe's mother's perspective. The working title of this book was actually Birth Mother but was changed to Son before publication, partially because Ms. Lowry didn't think any boys would read a book called Birth Mother (she was probably right).
So that's the story of The Giver quartet. Here are a few other interesting things I learned while she was speaking:
- Only 5 authors, including Lois Lowry, have won the Newberry Award twice.
- Autumn Sky and A Summer To Die are autobiographical.
- It is easier for her to write a girl character.
- Her son died in a military aircraft crash.
- She started as a photo journalist.
- The cover of Number the Stars is a photograph she took when she did portraits of children.
- The sled at the end of The Giver is supposed to have a fantasy and magic about it.
- Her favorite character in all of her books is Matt.
- Only the natural objects in The Giver have color, an apple, flowers, the girls hair, his eyes. Man-made objects didn't need color.
- The Giver can be read as a religious allegory, or not, depending on what you bring to the story.
So after all the talking was the book signing. We had to wait for about an hour before it was our turn. I was so excited to be so close to such a literary master.
|I'm almost there with my armful of books!|
|Oh! It's her! She's signing my books! It was a thrilling moment.|
|I can imagine she was super tired by this point. I was so appreciative of her time.|
|My mom got even more books signed, again, for me.|
Please remember that what I have said in this post is based on my memory and my mom's notes. Please verify any information before you claim it as fact. If you'd like to read more about Lois Lowry, you can visit her website here.
Who is your favorite author, favorite book, and why?