On the Horizon
Lois Lowry, Author
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Memoir, Apr. 7, 2020
Suitable for Ages: 10-13
Themes: Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, World War II, Bombardment, Personal narratives, History, Verse
Book Jacket Synopsis:
Every person has a place in history.
Two-time Newbery medalist Lois Lowry reflects on her own in this moving account of the lives lost and forever altered in the bombings of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima and the lives lost in WWII’s most infamous events.
Drawing on the stories of real people at Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima, as well as her own memories, Lois Lowry introduces readers to the only set of twin sailors aboard the USS Arizona, a Japanese child folding origami cranes in the wake of the unfathomable horror of the atomic bomb, and even her own grandmother. Through each vignette, this stunning work in verse contemplates humanity and war, sings with pain and truth, and emphasizes the importance of empathy in bridging cultural divides.
In turns haunting, heartbreaking and uplifting, On the Horizon searches for commonality and connection and will remind readers of the horrors and heroism in our past while offering hope for our future.
Why I love this book:
Lois Lowry personalizes WWII’s most infamous events — Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima — for young readers who may not be familiar with this period of our history. It brings history to life through the moving and heartbreaking stories of ordinary individuals, who are unaware of what will happen at 8:15 a.m. Some survived. Others didn’t.
The story is told in free verse which beautifully fits the tone of each vignette. It is told in three parts. Lowry carefully crafts each and every word so that readers feel that they have been part of something powerfully intimate. She does so with simplicity and sincerity.
Kenard Pak’s black and white illustrations are haunting and will evoke a response from readers. This book belongs in every school library.
Make sure you read the Author’s Note at the end because you get a sense of how long it took Lowry to find a way to tenderly tell her story with reverence, which is intertwined with so many people and events. When readers finish the book, they will feel like they are holding something sacred in their hands and they have an obligation to work for a more peaceful tomorrow.
Lowry has also done an audio recording of On the Horizon. I believe it’s her first-ever recording. Make sure you have tissues on hand!
Lois Lowry lived in many places growing up, cincluding Hawaii and Japan during the years around World War II, and now lives in Maine. She is the author of more than forty books for children and young adults, including Newbery Medal winners, Nuber the Stars and The Giver. Visit her at her website. You can also visit her on Twitter @LoisLowryWriter.
*Reviewed from a purchased copy.