- Lois Lowry:A Giver of Books for Children
For my own grandchildren—and for all those of their generation—I try, through writing, to convey my passionate awareness that we live intertwined on this planet and that our future depends upon our caring more, and doing more, for one another.)(Lowry, “Biography”)
Award-winning author Lois Lowry conveys this theme of connectedness through her more than forty books for children. Her body of work has contributed immeasurably to the field of children’s literature, delighting readers with her unforgettable characters and humorous stories as well as fostering conversation and deep thinking on serious topics.
About Lois Lowry
Lowry was born on March 20, 1937 in Honolulu, Hawaii. The middle child, she had an older sister, Helen, and a young brother, Jon. She describes herself as “a solitary child who lived in the world of books and my own imagination” (Lowry, “Biography”). Because her father was an army dentist, she moved often during childhood and lived in Japan for a few years. Lowry attended Brown University but interrupted her education after sophomore year to marry a naval officer; they had four children: two boys and two girls. When the family moved to Maine, she attended the University of Southern Maine, where she finished her degree in English literature and pursued graduate work. Lowry wrote professionally for magazines as a freelance journalist before she began writing books for children. During this time, she and her husband divorced in 1977.
Lowry has experienced great loss in her life, and these experiences have influenced her writing. Her sister died of cancer at the age of twenty-eight, an incident that provided the basis for her first novel, A Summer to Die, published in 1977. This novel, which sensitively deals with the themes of death and serious illness, received the International Reading Association Children’s Literature Award (given for newly published authors). In 1995, her older son, Grey, an Air Force pilot, died in a plane crash at age thirty-six. Lowry writes about this devastating loss in her memoir, Looking Back (1998) and describes his death as “the saddest day of my life” (167). Then her partner of thirty years, Martin, died in 2011.
Today, Lowry is a grandmother and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but continues to spend time at her 1769 farmhouse in Maine. In addition to her renown as a writer, Lowry is also an accomplished photographer and one of her photographs appears on the book jackets of both The Giver (1993) and Messenger (2004). Readers can learn more about Lowry on her website: www.loislowry.com.
Lowry is a prolific and versatile writer whose books span genres, children’s interest and reading levels, and tone. Her two books, honored with the Newbery Medal, are quite different. Number the Stars [End Page 34] (1989) is historical fiction while The Giver (1993) is a dystopian novel. Lowry is at ease writing books that are provocative, provide insight into historical events, or cause laughter and joy. She points out that her “books have varied in content and style. Yet it seems that all of them deal, essentially, with the same general theme: the importance of human connections” (Lowry, “Biography”).
Lowry received her first Newbery Medal in 1990 for Number the Stars, the historical novel set in Denmark during World War II and based on the childhood experiences of Lowry’s friend Annelise Platt, to whom she dedicates the book. Told from the perspective of ten-year-old Annemarie, the book introduces readers to both the horrors of the Holocaust and the courage of those involved in the Danish resistance. Annemarie demonstrates strength and determination as she and her family save her best friend Ellen from the Nazis. According to Haley-James, “Lowry takes readers beyond themselves. In none of her books does she succeed in this to a greater extent than in Number the Stars (Houghton), a story in which she makes the abstract concepts of love, commitment, and courage visible and real” (423). The book also received the National Jewish Book Award and The Sydney Taylor Award.
Lowry has created unforgettable characters with whom readers can readily...