Lois Lowry: The Children’s Whisperer

Dan Kois has an exceptional profile of children’s author Lois Lowry, best known for her 1994 Newbery Medal-winning novel, The Giver.

The confrontation that concludes the Giver Quartet is a face-off between Gabriel and the sinister Trademaster — a climactic battle made perfectly unfilmable by the fact that Gabriel refuses to fight. Instead he uses the “veer,” a magical talent in which he is able to enter another person’s consciousness and feel what they feel. That is, Gabriel battles evil with empathy.

“The ability to understand other people’s feelings,” Lowry said. “As an encompassing gift that a kid could have — or a human — that could be the one that could save the world. If we could all acquire it to the extent that boy had it, no one would go into a movie theater with a gun.” It’s a powerful lesson, and one that I’m eager for my children — so often so quick to think only of themselves — to learn. It’s surely one I still need to learn. Perhaps these books are for adults after all.

The Giver Quartet is, in the end, less a speculative fiction than a kind of guide for teaching children (and their parents, if they’re listening carefully) how to be a good person. I think back not just to Lowry’s son but also to the other son that accident claimed, the mechanic prosecuted for Grey Lowry’s death. His name was Thomas Mueller. He had a wife and two young children. “Every second of every minute of every day, I fall apart a little more,” he wrote in the notebook he kept during the trial. When he sat in that courtroom, he, too, felt sad and scared.

Fantastic author. Fantastic profile and preview of her new book.

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