Children of War: Lois Lowry’s WWII Children’s Book

Have you heard of Lois Lowry?  It’s hard to imagine not coming across her work at least once during our time in school.  Lois Lowry is a two-time Newbery Medalist winner, getting the awards for “Number the Stars” in 1990 and “The Giver” in 1994.


image via amazon


If you are a fan of Lois Lowry, then keep your eyes and ears peeled for this!  Lowry has a new children’s book, “On the Horizon,” that will be published on April 7.  The book is a collection of reflections on World War II, drawing from her experiences from her own childhood spent in Japan during the war.  Lowry asks readers to empathize with people from both sides of the conflict by offering vignettes of those who lost their lives in the war.


After that, Lowry turns to herself and her guilt for living in Tokyo after the war ended.  She felt isolation when she would watch Japanese kids play together, never receiving an invitation to play with them.  She dared not ask to join them, either.


image via kreg franco on fatherly


The content in her new book is questionable in its suitability for kids, but I don’t think that kids should be shielded from darkness in the world.  It unfortunately accompanies each and every one of us every day.  It is a part of life, something that kids should be made aware of.  However, Lowry’s core message in her book is this: we all benefit from a more peaceful world.


In an interview with Lois Lowry about her new book, Shay Maunz of TIME poses her questions like why she chose to write the book in poems instead of prose, or her experience of World War II as a kid.  Lowry’s answers are really interesting.  For her first question, she answered that her newest book took its form through what is essentially a  process, something any kind of artist goes through with any medium.  Her answer for the second question goes into depth about her worries over her father.  The interview with TIME seems to include the full dialogue, so if you’re interested in reading about all the answers relating to her new book, you can check that out.


featured image via rania mathar on time


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Binyavanga Wainaina, Kenyan Writer and LGBTQ Activist, Dies at 48

Sad news in the writer’s world. Binyavanga Wainaina, a deeply influential Kenyan writer and LGBTQ activist, has passed away at age 48, according to NPR. He was the founder of Kwani? a literary magazine and loose collection of Kenyan writers that bounded together to foster creativity, passion, and fostered the work of Kenyan young writers. He also won the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2002 and became widely known for his written piece, “How To Write About Africa”, cheekily instructing Western writers how to do just that. The full piece is below:

“In your text, treat Africa as if it were one country. It is hot and dusty with rolling grasslands and huge herds of animals and tall, thin people who are starving. Or it is hot and steamy with very short people who eat primates. Don’t get bogged down with precise descriptions. Africa is big: fifty-four countries, 900 million people who are too busy starving and dying and warring and emigrating to read your book. The continent is full of deserts, jungles, highlands, savannahs and many other things, but your reader doesn’t care about all that, so keep your descriptions romantic and evocative and unparticular.”


An African writer lounges on a couch in a green jacket

Image Via The Star

It was first published in Granta and became a sensation, often used as a descriptive shorthand to show the laziness Western writers use when approaching Africa in their work. The author came out as gay in 2014 and since then, had been an outspoken for LGBTQ rights. He publicly revealed his sexuality in an essay titled “I Am A Homosexual, Mum” a piece often hailed as extremely brave considering homosexuality is illegal in Wainaina’s country of Kenya. The piece earned him widespread recognition, including a nod from Time, who named him as one of the most influential people in 2014.

Unfortunately, the next few years were not kind to him. Wainaina suffered a stroke in 2015 before he was diagnosed with AIDs in 2016. Wainaina continued to push ahead, announcing he was getting married in 2018 but succumbed to his illness nonetheless on May 21st, 2019. For his part, Wainaina announced he did not fear death and was the happiest he could have been due to finding love.


Kenyan writer Wainaina stares at the camera, parts of his hair dyed blue

Image Via BOMB Magazine 


Wainaina is truly was one of the most influential writers, not just in Kenya, but to the world. His passing will be very much missed, robbing the world of a great talent far too early. Nonetheless, his work will live on through the community that supported him, carrying on his legacy of love.


Featured Image Via NPR