This morning I went to see Lois Lowry speak at the bookshop around the corner from my office. If ever you hear of her having a reading in your neighborhood or speaking at an event nearby, I really urge you to make the time in your schedule to go, as she is thoroughly captivating.
The audience was comprised mostly of children, which was nice because this was clearly a group that enjoyed reading. A small disclosure: being around such a large gathering of kids was more than a little strange for me because it was one of the few times that I stood (or sat, as was the case here) taller than most of the crowd. I’m barely over five feet; something like this is highly unusual for me.
Interestingly, Lowry didn’t come to the bookstore with notes, or even a copy of her latest work, The Willoughbys. She simply launched into talking about its plot and themes after grabbing a the display book off of the table next to her.
“Let me see if I can find the right part quickly,” she said more than once, flipping through the pages. And each time she found exactly what she was looking for, and read the excerpts in such a lively and expressive way that I wanted to curl up with a mug of something warm and sweet, and listen to her read everything she had ever written.
Her presence was so impressive. Lowry effortlessly commandeered the attentions of what seemed to me like sixty kids, all the while telling funny anecdotes and maintaining a very relaxed and laid-back attitude. She did this even as she fielded questions, some of which she must have answered countless times at other similar events.
I didn’t stick around for the book signing; like I said, there were a lot of kids, several of whom had multiple books for Lowry to sign. It happens I’ve already got a signed copy of A Summer to Die, which is the first of her books that I ever read, back when I was in grade school. It’s also the first of Lowry’s novels. I recently reread it while I toiled away on my pages; I’m happy to report that even though it was originally published in 1977, it still rings true. Which is all I can wish for any writer, established or otherwise.