Looking Back: A Book of Memories

Looking Back: A Book of Memories

by Lois Lowry


View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Thursday, September 26


People are constantly asking two-time Newbery Medalist Lois Lowry where she gets her ideas. In this fascinating memoir, Lowry answers this question, through recollections of childhood friends and pictures and memories that explore her rich family history. She recounts the pivotal moments that inspired her writing, describing how they magically turned into fiction along the complicated passageway called life. Lowry fans, as well as anyone interested in understanding the process of writing fiction, will benefit from this poignant trip through the past and the present of a remarkable writer.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780544932487
Publisher: HMH Books
Publication date: 08/01/2017
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 161,365
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 12 - 18 Years

About the Author

Lois Lowry is one of the most decorated authors for young readers. Her books have won numerous awards, including the Newbery Medal for both Number the Stars and The Giver. Ms. Lowry now divides her time between Cambridge and an 1840s farmhouse in Maine. To learn more about Lois Lowry, visit her website at www.loislowry.com.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

This unusual book contains photographs from Lowry's past and her reflections on them. In the introduction, she suggests that the book will answer readers who ask, "How do you get ideas?" Toward that end, every section begins with a quotation from one of Lowry's books that relates in some way to the subject of the photo. Think of yourself sitting down with Lowry and looking through her albums while she stops and points at pictures of herself as a child and a teenager, photos of her parents and siblings and, then, more recent pictures of her children and grandchildren. Each picture evokes a memory that is a paragraph to a couple of pages long. Readers who remember the deftly portrayed family relationships in Lowry's novels will be fascinated by pictures of Lowry, her older sister, and her younger brother, as well as the often amusing tales of their youth. The mood is not always light, though, and few will be unmoved by Lowry's reflections on her son Grey's death in 1995....Only a writer with Lowry's blend of humor, detachment, and storytelling ability could make the form work.
Booklist, ALA

"Imagine sitting on a sofa with a friend listening with fascination while she tells you about the pictures in her photo album. That is the feeling once has when browsing through this book of Lowry's family snapshots and reading her lively commentary on them. . . . The author's voice comes through strongly as she shares both her happiest and saddest times. . . . Much more intimate and personal than many traditional memories, this work makes readers feel that Lowry is an old friend." School Library Journal


How Do You Do (An Introduction)

When I was a child - very shy, very self-conscious - I was sometimes taken by my mother to events at which I would be introduced to adults who swooped at me with toothy smiles and unanswerable questions. I had a tendency to look at the ground, scrunch the hem of my dress in my hand, chew on a strand of my own hair, and scuff one shoe against the other during those painful moments.

"Look up!" my mother used to tell me. "Hold your shoulders straight! Look people in the eye! Say, 'fine, thank you, how are you?"

I tried, but it was excruciating. I wasn't fine at all, holding out my nail-bitten hand for a stranger to shake. I was paralyzed, mute, and hoping for a trap door to open beneath me so that I could disappear with a whoosh into some dark cavern where I could curl up with a book until the grownups stopped their socializing.

I still don't like introductions very much. Have you met my nephew, who once scored the winning touchdown for a college in the Midwest? I'd like you to meet Aunt Emma, who is visiting from Seattle, where she raises hybrid peonies. May I present Ogden Weatherbee, who invented the gyrating oscilloscope? I know you will enjoy making the acquaintance of Miss Smirkling, who does wonderful charcoal portraits of miniature poodles as a hobby. And here is Cousin Florence, with her triplets!

Trap-door time!

But I am all grown up now, so I have learned to stand up straight and hold out my hand. Here I am, looking right in the eye. I would like to introduce you to this book. It has no plot. It is about moments, memories, fragments, falsehoods, and fantasies. It is about things that happened, which caused other things to happen, so that eventually stories emerged.

At Boston's Logan Airport, in Terminal C, there is a kinetic sculpture: a sculpture that moves. Even though Terminal C has a food court, seafood restaurant, a bookstore, and even a beauty parlor, it is the always-in-motion, pinging, dinging sculpture that commands the attention of everyone: travelers, toddlers, and trash collectors.

A ball sets off from the top (ding!) and makes its way through tubes, across intersections, down lifts and stairs and slides; along the way it bumps into another ball (chime!) and sets that one rolling around corners and along passages, and eventually it, too, collides (ping!) with another and sends it on its way.

Everything that happens causes something else to happen. Just like life.

A dog bites a mailman and the mailman drops his bag and scatters some letters on the lawn. One disappears under a bush and is lost. Maybe it was a love letter. Maybe the woman who failed to receive the letter decided to heck with it and went to law school - or to Australia - or to a therapist; and because of that, the man who sent the letter (but received no reply) decided to buy a dog to keep him company; and then he took the dog to obedience classes, where it met a dog who had bitten a mailman, and...

Well, you get the idea.

Stories don't just appear out of nowhere. They need a ball that starts to roll.

Kids ask me all the time: "How do you get ideas?"

When I try to answer, in a general way, they zero right in. "Yes," they say, "but how did you get the idea for-"

Here, in this book, I have tried to answer some of the questions. I looked back, in order to do so, through snapshots of my own past. Here are some of the balls - ping! - at the moment when they start their trip down that complicated passageway that is called life but that also, magically, becomes fiction along the way.

I have given them titles. Strange, evocative titles, some of them, like "Looming Huge," and "Opening a Trunk." They may make you look back and recapture memories of your own. From the memories may come stories. Tell them to your friends. To your family. Tell them to me, won't you? Now that we've been properly introduced?

How do you do!

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Looking Back: A Book of Memories 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is a book of pictures with a page or two describing it not my favorite:(
bemislibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a memoir of moments that happened in the author's life that influence her writing process. The book ranged from one paragaph to one page snapshots with pictures to highlight the themes.
Whisper1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Newbery medal and honor award winning author Lois Lowry takes us on a journey throughout her life. This is a stellar book, filled with hope, sadness, joy and the sheer beauty of living life to the fullest.Each chapter begins with a quote from one of her many books with an accompanying photo. We learn how her life inspired her works.This was such a wonderful, pleasant read that I hated to see it end. This is what good writing is with each word, each phrase a delighful tidbit to savor!Highly recommend