Lowry uses dark themes to enlighten

Lois Lowry does not want to be considered a “rockstar,” but the attendance at a talk she gave on Thursday indicated otherwise.

About 500 eager and nostalgic Yalies filled the Trumbull College dining hall to hear the author of “The Giver” and “Number the Stars” speak about literary freedom, children’s literature and her alleged connection to the Antichrist at a Master’s Tea hosted by the Yale Undergraduate Magazine.

Lowis Lowry, author of
Grant Smith
Lowis Lowry, author of "The Giver" and "Number the Stars," speaks at a Master's Tea in Trumbull College on Thursday.

Organizers attributed the large crowds to the tremendous effects Lowry’s books have had on the entire Yale community. And many audience members agreed, saying they were awed by her presence and her “politeness.”

Lowry addressed the recently ended Banned Books Week — a movement by activists nationwide that celebrated books that have traditionally been censored. She talked about a recent movement by parents to ban her books.

One Web site even called her the “Antichrist” for her controversial books, she said.

“That’s just so silly,” Lowry told the News in an interview after the event. “I don’t lose any sleep over it.”

She said she appreciates those who fight for “literary freedom” — namely librarians and teachers — because she thinks literature can change children’s lives.

Children and adults often contact Lowry about how her 33 books affected their lives, she said. One teacher from South Carolina, who e-mailed her earlier this week, told Lowry that she read a chapter a day of “The Giver” to her students. But on one snow day, the rowdiest boy in the class called the teacher at her home to ask her to read the next chapter to him over the phone, Lowry said.

Lowry later discussed her future as an author. She has finished writing another children’s book, “The Willoughbys,” to be published later this year. And she said there are plans for “The Giver” to be made into a movie by David Yates, the director of the most recent Harry Potter movie.

“But I’m not a Harry Potter fan, funny enough,” she said.

After the speech, students from the crowd asked Lowry about topics ranging from plot details in “The Giver” to her opinions on writing for youth.

Lowry said she tries to appreciate the “intelligence and basic integrity” of children by addressing difficult issues like death and loss. She said when children solely read positive books, “they learn nothing.”

An hour and a half before the tea began, there were already three people waiting for the event.

One of the three students, Erica Newland ’08, said she reread “The Giver” this week in preparation for the event.

“I think about her books so often now,” she said. “I read her books incessantly.”

After the Tea, Lowry stayed behind to sign books for more than 70 waiting students.

Margarita Rogers, the mother of a freshman, drove from Glen Ridge, N.J., to see the author. She asked Lowry to sign the Glen Ridge Public Library’s audio recording of “The Giver.”

Kate Dobiecka GRD ’12 brought her daughter Helenka with her when she came to the event. She said she wants her daughter to read more of Lowry’s books. Dobiecka said she had wanted to meet the author ever since writing a letter to Lowry when she was younger and receiving a reply.

Amanda Rubin ’09, an editor for Y.U.M., said she was thrilled that Lowry came.

“She’s such a part of my childhood,” she said.

Y.U.M. has confirmed R.L. Stine as its guest author for next semester, Sethi said.

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