Cover image for Looking back : a book of memories
Looking back : a book of memories
Lowry, Lois.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston, Mass. : Houghton Mifflin, 1998.
Physical Description:
181 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Using family photographs and quotes from her books, the author provides glimpses into her life.
General Note:
"Walter Lorraine books."
Reading Level:
900 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.5 2.0 30693.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 5.9 5 Quiz: 19085 Guided reading level: X.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3562.O923 Z47 1998 Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography
PS3562.O923 Z47 1998 Juvenile Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PS3562.O923 Z47 1998 Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography
PS3562.O923 Z47 1998 Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography
PS3562.O923 Z47 1998 Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography
PS3562.O923 Z47 1998 Juvenile Non-Fiction Biography

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"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." Children as well as adults often ask Lois Lowry where the ideas for her stories came from. In this fascinating, moving autobiography, the Newbery Medalist answers this and many other questions. Her writing often transports readers into her own world. She explores her rich history through family pictures, memories, and recollections of childhood friends. She details pivotal moments that affected her life, inspired her writing, and that magically evolved into rich and wonderful stories that one is reluctant to put down. Lowry fans, and anyone interested in the writing process, will tremendously enjoy this poignant trip through a remarkable writer's past.

Author Notes

Lois Lowry (nee Lois Ann Hammersberg) was born on March 20, 1937, in Honolulu, Hawaii. She was educated at both Brown University and the University of Southern Maine. Before becoming an author, she worked as a photographer and a freelance journalist.

Her first book, A Summer to Die, was published in 1977. Since then she has written over 30 books for young adults including Gathering Blue, Messenger, the Anastasia Krupnik series, and Son. She has received numerous awards including: The New York Times Best Seller,the International Reading Association's Children's Literature Award, the American Library Association Notable Book Award Citation and two Newberry Medals for Number the Stars in 1990, and The Giver in 1993. She was also awarded an honorary Doctorate of Letters by Brown University in 2014.

The Giver is part of a Quartet of books; it is the first book, followed by Gathering Blue, messenger and Son. The Giver has been met with a diversity of reactions from schools in America, some of which have adopted it as a part of the mandatory curriculum, while others have prohibited the book's inclusion in classroom studies. It was also made into a feature film of the same name released in 2014. Lois Lowry also made the Hans Christian Andersen Awards 2016 finalists in the author category.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 4^-8. 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. The only downside to the book is the thought of hundreds of other writers poring over their photo albums in hopes of a similar publication. Only a writer with Lowry's blend of humor, detachment, and storytelling ability could make the form work. And perhaps it will work only for readers who love her novels. Even so, that means a large potential audience. Carolyn Phelan

Publisher's Weekly Review

Lowry (The Giver; Number the Stars) deftly dances between humorous and heartbreaking with this ingenious memoir. Unlike most autobiographies, this one forgoes a linear chronology in favor of a more inventive thematic organization. Lowry introduces each section with an excerpt from one of her novels, followed by one or more anecdotes‘each inspired by a photograph of herself or her family. "Reaching Across," for example, features a photo of Lowry and her older sister, Helen, and offers insight into their closely knit relationship; the pair are the models for the exuberant younger and practical elder sisters who appear again and again in Lowry's fiction. Three chapters ("Dogs," "More Dogs" plus "And Dogs One More Time") explain why canines repeatedly show up in her books. In addition to recurring themes, Lowry cites examples of a single, powerful image that becomes a central idea in a novel. In "Bonds," for instance, a quote from The Giver introduces an idyllic picture of Lowry's daughter lying on the back of a horse in the Maine summer sun reading a book. Lowry, the daughter of an itinerant army major, then describes her wish to give her children the things she never had, "a house that was always ours, books that were always there to be read again and again, and pets that followed you home and were allowed to stay." Lowry tenderly relates the recent death of her eldest son Grey in "Sadness," alongside photographs of him with his wife and little girl, and demonstrates how families in fiction and in fact keep their loved ones alive by telling their stories. The unorthodox structure allows Lowry to take creative license to great effect: at critical junctures, she pairs pictures of her mother and herself at the same age and imagines what they might have said to each other at that stage of life. In one such vignette, Lowry recalls that she lost Grey within two years of the age at which her mother lost her daughter Helen (Lowry was 58, her mother was 56) and imagines a conversation between them, and how they might have comforted each other. Lowry unfolds her history in a glorious arc, invisibly threading its parts into a unified whole. Her connection of the everyday details of her life to the larger scope of her work adds a new dimension to her novels and may well encourage readers to speak and write honestly about their own experiences. A compelling and inspirational portrait of the author emerges from these vivid snapshots of life's joyful, sad and surprising moments. All ages. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5 Up-Imagine sitting on a sofa with a friend and listening with fascination while she tells you about the pictures in her photo album. That is the feeling one has when browsing through this book of Lowry's family snapshots and reading her lively commentary on them. Readers will chuckle as they hear the tale of the frozen rat she attempted to revive by heating it in the oven and will smile knowingly at the unhappy look on her face when she was forced to wear lederhosen her mother brought home from Europe. The author's voice comes through strongly as she shares both her happiest and saddest times. Though the organization is somewhat chronological, many photos are loosely grouped by topic-"War," "Adolescence," "Opening a Trunk" and so forth-which allows her to make connections between people and events. She introduces each photo, or group, with a quotation from one of her books, making a connection between an event in her life and its fictional counterpart. In The Giver (Houghton, 1993), Lowry writes about the importance of memory, and here, she shows her readers the important role it plays in her own life-how she has used her memories in her work, how they have helped her get through difficult times, and how they enrich and connect us. Much more intimate and personal than many traditional memoirs, this work makes readers feel that Lowry is an old friend.-Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.