On the Horizon by Lois Lowry

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.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Reviewed from a purchased copy.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

25 thoughts on “On the Horizon by Lois Lowry

  1. This sounds like a fantastic way to share about such a difficult time in our history in a more personal way. It sounds like a really timely book as we are dealing with such a big crisis now too. Thanks for spotlighting it this week.


    • I love how the perfect books arrive in a timely way — when we need them the most. Such a personal book. It would pair beautifully with “The Last Cherry Blossom,” by Kathleen Burkinshaw.


  2. I also loved this book and the way Lowry brought these two terrible events together, plus the surprise appearance of another favorite author. Among other things, it teaches us to look more closely at what is around us.


    • I’m delighted you loved Lowry’s book. You’re right, it does teach to be more aware of what is going on around us. Hadn’t thought to make that point, but it’s a good one! Thank you!


    • You won’t be able to put it down. I purchased a copy and will purchase others as gifts. I want to keep this special book on my shelf. My husband really enjoyed reading the book too. It may written for teens, but adults will enjoy!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This would be a great companion read with another MG book about Hiroshima, THE LAST CHERRY BLOSSOM. I’m not a big reader of books in verse but your thoughts and having Lois Lowry as the author have me sold. Thanks for featuring on MMGM. Kids aren’t always excited by historical reads but this one might help bridge the gap.


    • Yes, I agree with the pairing. I almost mentioned that in my review, but planned to mention in my comments. There is something so sacred about this book. My husband was really moved!


  4. I became a Lois Lowry fan way back in the day with Number the Stars. I will definitely check this one out.


  5. This sounds like a beautiful book! I remember reading Lowry’s book The Giver, which definitely stays with you years later. Thanks for the great review!


    • Yes, I must admit I’m a fan of “The Giver” series, especially the second book “Gathering Blue.” As I wrote my review of “On the Horizon,” wondered how much Lowry’s early life experiences influenced The Giver, where there is no war, and people are protected from the memories of starvation, pain and death and so on. May not have at all, but it would be an interesting question to ask her, since it took her many years to write her current book. On the Horizon will be on my shelf! Hope you read and review it!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Hiroshima Bombing Project and Book List for Kids

  7. Pingback: WWII Books for Kids on Japanese American Experience

    • I agree. It is a profound work of literary art that will have a home in my library.

      Are you the Toni Martin I studied PBs with (Peter H. Reynolds) at Southampton? If so, hello!


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