Thursday, July 1, 1993

Lois Lowry's The Giver: What Does Your Writing Give to the Reader?

Updated 6/16/2020.

The Giver

Lois Lowry

First Publication: July 1, 1993

Category: young adult dystopian novel

Sales: 10 million


About the Book:

Anyone who regularly follows my blog knows I have been on a quest to seek out and read all the Newbery medal winners. This is no easy task, considering the award has been given out annually since 1922. Since May 2013, I've plowed through about 20 of them. Lois Lowry's The Giver (Houghton Mifflin, 1993) is my favorite so far.

Lowry creates a supposed Utopia in which the threat of individuality has been stripped from society in favor of "Sameness" (think George Orwell's 1984). The story centers on Jonas and the coming-of-age ceremony which happens when kids turn 12 and are given their "assignments;" that is, the jobs that have been selected for them.

Jonas is tasked with becoming the society's new Receiver, which means the Giver will transfer his memories - both the good and bad - which are being shielded away from the general public.

Clearly the thought-provoking nature of the subject matter makes for rich territory. It also has generated a certain amount of controversy, although as Lowry herself says, she isn't sure why. She considers the book to be highly moralistic and notes that when the book has been challenged, it is in a vague way.

Of course, this is also why it has been my favorite of the Newbery books I've read so far. The book makes the reader (no matter what age) think. In my own writing, it challenges me to remember that the ultimate goal in writing is to give the reader something - maybe it is just entertainment, maybe information, maybe inspiration. In the best of worlds, a book accomplishes all three. The Giver is such a book.

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Tuesday, April 6, 1993

The Little Prince published 50 years ago today

First posted 6/11/2020; updated 7/6/2020.

The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince)

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

First Publication: April 6, 1943

Category: children’s novella

Sales: 142 million


About the Book:

The Little Prince is “the most famous work of French aristocrat, writer, poet, and pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.” WK “Few stories are as widely read and as universally cherished by children and adults alike as The Little Prince.” AZ “Translated into 300 languages and dialects,” WK “the novella is one of the most-translated books in the world and has been voted the best book of the 20th century in France.” WK

“After the outbreak of the Second World War, Saint-Exupéry escaped to North America. Despite personal upheavals and failing health, he produced almost half of the writings for which he would be remembered, including a tender tale of loneliness, friendship, love, and loss, in the form of a young prince visiting Earth. An earlier memoir by the author had recounted his aviation experiences in the Sahara Desert, and he is thought to have drawn on those same experiences in The Little Prince.” WK

The book has “capture[d] the hearts of readers of all ages.” AZ “Since its first publication, the novella has been adapted to numerous art forms and media, including audio recordings, radio plays, live stage, film, television, ballet, and opera.” WK

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In July 2018, I became the organizer of the Classic Novels Book Club. Check out the Book Club tab here or Meetup for more information. This is our September 2020 book.