Friday, April 20, 2012

Memorable Middle Grade Books: Lois Lowry


Lately I’ve been thinking about stories I read as a child that influenced my writing and my life. One that really sticks in my mind is A Summer to Die by Lois Lowry.
Something about this story intrigued me and I read it many times. Maybe it was because it was the first time I read a story with a character that died. Or because the main character had a sister and I didn’t (I have brothers). Or because the story includes a description of the birth of a baby, something that was relatively new to me at the age of 11. There was a lot in this thin book, including lovely writing. The characters really came alive for me when I read this story, no matter how many times I read it.
Kids today might find the pace too slow or the writing too detailed. But I loved details the author included – the painted eggs, the names of the plants (nature again), the photography (not digital, of course), the quilt made of the girls’ baby clothes. [This makes me think of the quote I posted from Molly O’Neill on memorable details in writing middle grade books.] The details in A Summer to Die definitely made an impression on me. Those details helped to build and carry so much of the emotion of the story.

An interesting side note: It was not until I was an adult that I learned that this book was a fictional account of Lois Lowry’s own life and the death of her sister. And it was her first book.
Are there any books from your childhood that introduced you to something you’d never experienced or thought about before? Do you still remember details from books you read as a child?

9 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness, I felt the same way about this book when I was young. I have a copy on my bookshelf and was thinking it was time to read again. I also loved Find a Stranger, Say Goodbye by Lowry. It was about the girl at 18 who decided to find her birth mom. Something completely foreign to me too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I haven't read that one. I'll have to look for it.

      Delete
  2. I haven't read this one either! As far as books from my childhood, the ones I remember best are Charlotte's Web and Where the Red Fern Grows--still two that top my favorite list as an adult.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was going to post about Charlotte's web and some of the other E.B. White books, but Stuart Little has gone missing, much to my horror. Will have to look for it!

      Delete
  3. I remember this book! This was one of my most memorable books of childhood. I have a sister, so I thinks that's why it affected me so much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really stuck in my mind. I remember this story so well and I still have my copy from when I was a kid.

      Delete
  4. I am so glad that my school library has TWO first edition copies of this. I remember this so well, and it does still go out. I must have read Find a Stranger, but don't remember it well.

    ReplyDelete
  5. For almost 35 years I searched and searched for the name of this book, I remembered in detail the girl, her sister and how her sister was dying, I also remember the painted egg in the book. I actually tried to do an egg like she described every year on easter since then. That book and story affected me that much. I read the book after losing my grandpa to cancer when I was about 14.

    ReplyDelete

I love to hear your responses and thoughts! Your comments will appear after moderation (I've decided to enable moderation due to excessive spam).