Tonight I went to the Stubbs Memorial Lecture at the Lillian H. Smith Library and it was very interesting to say the least!

Lois Lowry was fascinating!

But it was too bad the organizers decided to set up the room lengthwise! It was a long tunnel of a room and she was at the very end of it. I couldn’t even see her from my seat without constantly trying to peek through the gaps in the people in front of me, to the point that I finally just gave up and listened to her voice. (They should have put her in the middle and made the length, the width!)

But what was really interesting is what I took away from the whole event.

Of course I bought two of the sequels to The Giver.

I loved The Giver, up until the ending, where I wanted to throw the book across the room and yell, “What the heck was that?!”


And yet I was in such a rush to leave the house I forgot to bring my copy of The Giver with me, so I asked her to sign a piece of paper I plan to glue into the front copy.

I did buy Messenger and Gathering Blue. I plan to reread the Giver, give it another chance (so much of it really is hauntingly beautiful), and then read the sequels in order, but that wasn’t the most interesting thing about the evening.

The most interesting thing I took away was a fascinating conversation I had with a teacher/librarian who was the kind of bright-eyed young enthusiast it’s always an author’s pleasure to meet! (I know that’s a convoluted sentence, and I should probably go back and simplify it but it’s late and I can’t be bothered.)

Anyway, he was at one of my favourite Toronto schools, very familiar with my work, and very passionate about the work he’s doing, and we were walking out (he was probably going to the subway and I was going to where I’d parked the car) and he started telling me about some of the authors he’d met during his stint on the Red Maple committee.

The Red Maple is one of those readers’ choice awards, like every state has, and is for the older readers, intermediate grades (7, 8, and 9 I think) here in Ontario. (I’ve only ever been on their list once and that was for Dahling if You Luv Me Would You Please Please Smile).

Anyway we were talking about how tired Ms. Lowry must have been, I was the second last person in line (he was right behind me) and she’s 76 years old and it was past 10 pm, and he was talking about how some of the authors who’d attended the Red Maple had carried themselves.

Nothing gossipy of course, he mentioned how some had had planes to catch and that’s why they’d cut their autograph sessions short. But Eric Walters, who’s a prolific author up here in Canada, had sat there, forgone his lunch, and signed autographs till the very last kid had been taken care of!


Good for him!

It had obviously not gone unnoticed!

And I thought that’s the kind of author I want to be! A real trooper!

And then he said something interesting, how Eric Walter’s books were more accessible, less literary than my own, and it was a bit jarring to think that literary books might be less accessible. A very different way of looking at things.

And I also came away with the idea that you should always always be open because here I thought the most important interaction I would have that night would be with Ms. Lowry, but it wasn’t. Not at all. It was with this teacher librarian!

Ms. Lowry’s lecture was nice, even amusing, but the only thing I actually learned from it was when she addressed the idea of why when she wrote Number the Stars she hadn’t given the main role to the Jewish girl. And she said it’s because the main character has to be the one who makes the decisions. She said you read a story, you follow a main character because you want to know what decisions, what pathways they’ll take and the Jews in Denmark at the time were powerless to make their own decisions.

It was a very interesting take. Not sure if it’s entirely accurate, but definitely something worth considering.

Anyways it was definitely an intellectually stimulating event!

By the way, it tickles me pink that I’m on the same New York Public Library’s List of 100 Great Children’s Books in 100 Years as she is!