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Gathering Blue Paperback – January 24, 2006


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Ember; Reissue edition (January 24, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385732562
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385732567
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (557 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #472,207 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Lois Lowry's magnificent novel of the distant future, The Giver, is set in a highly technical and emotionally repressed society. This eagerly awaited companion volume, by contrast, takes place in a village with only the most rudimentary technology, where anger, greed, envy, and casual cruelty make ordinary people's lives short and brutish. This society, like the one portrayed in The Giver, is controlled by merciless authorities with their own complex agendas and secrets. And at the center of both stories there is a young person who is given the responsibility of preserving the memory of the culture--and who finds the vision to transform it.

Kira, newly orphaned and lame from birth, is taken from the turmoil of the village to live in the grand Council Edifice because of her skill at embroidery. There she is given the task of restoring the historical pictures sewn on the robe worn at the annual Ruin Song Gathering, a solemn day-long performance of the story of their world's past. Down the hall lives Thomas the Carver, a young boy who works on the intricate symbols carved on the Singer's staff, and a tiny girl who is being trained as the next Singer. Over the three artists hovers the menace of authority, seemingly kind but suffocating to their creativity, and the dark secret at the heart of the Ruin Song.

With the help of a cheerful waif called Matt and his little dog, Kira at last finds the way to the plant that will allow her to create the missing color--blue--and, symbolically, to find the courage to shape the future by following her art wherever it may lead. With astonishing originality, Lowry has again created a vivid and unforgettable setting for this thrilling story that raises profound questions about the mystery of art, the importance of memory, and the centrality of love. (Ages 10 and older) --Patty Campbell --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

After conjuring the pitfalls of a technologically advanced society in The Giver, Lowry looks toward a different type of future to create this dark, prophetic tale with a strong medieval flavor. Having suffered numerous unnamed disasters (aka, the Ruin), civilization has regressed to a primitive, technology-free state; an opening author's note describes a society in which "disorder, savagery, and self-interest" rule. Kira, a crippled young weaver, has been raised and taught her craft by her mother, after her father was allegedly killed by "beasts." When her mother dies, Kira fears that she will be cast out of the village. Instead, the society's Council of Guardians installs her as caretaker of the Singer's robe, a precious ceremonial garment depicting the history of the world and used at the annual Gathering. She moves to the Council Edifice, a gothic-style structure, one of the few to survive the Ruin. The edifice and other settings, such as the Fen-the village ghetto-and the small plot where Annabella (an elder weaver who mentors Kira after her mother's death) lives are especially well drawn, and the characterizations of Kira and the other artists who cohabit the stone residence are the novel's greatest strength. But the narrative hammers at the theme of the imprisoned artist. And readers may well predict where several important plot threads are headed (e.g., the role of Kira's Guardian, Jamison; her father's disappearance), while larger issues, such as the society's downfall, are left to readers' imaginations. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Lois Lowry is known for her versatility and invention as a writer. She was born in Hawaii and grew up in New York, Pennsylvania, and Japan. After several years at Brown University, she turned to her family and to writing. She is the author of more than thirty books for young adults, including the popular Anastasia Krupnik series. She has received countless honors, among them the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, the California Young Reader.s Medal, and the Mark Twain Award. She received Newbery Medals for two of her novels, NUMBER THE STARS and THE GIVER. Her first novel, A SUMMER TO DIE, was awarded the International Reading Association.s Children.s Book Award. Ms. Lowry now divides her time between Cambridge and an 1840s farmhouse in Maine. To learn more about Lois Lowry, see her website at www.loislowry.com

author interview
A CONVERSATION WITH LOIS LOWRY ABOUT THE GIVER

Q. When did you know you wanted to become a writer?

A. I cannot remember ever not wanting to be a writer.

Q. What inspired you to write The Giver?

A. Kids always ask what inspired me to write a particular book or how did I get an idea for a particular book, and often it's very easy to answer that because books like the Anastasia books come from a specific thing; some little event triggers an idea. But a book like The Giver is a much more complicated book, and therefore it comes from much more complicated places--and many of them are probably things that I don't even recognize myself anymore, if I ever did. So it's not an easy question to answer.

I will say that the whole concept of memory is one that interests me a great deal. I'm not sure why that is, but I've always been fascinated by the thought of what memory is and what it does and how it works and what we learn from it. And so I think probably that interest of my own and that particular subject was the origin, one of many, of The Giver.

Q. How did you decide what Jonas should take on his journey?

A. Why does Jonas take what he does on his journey? He doesn't have much time when he sets out. He originally plans to make the trip farther along in time, and he plans to prepare for it better. But then, because of circumstances, he has to set out in a very hasty fashion. So what he chooses is out of necessity. He takes food because he needs to survive. He takes the bicycle because he needs to hurry and the bike is faster than legs. And he takes the baby because he is going out to create a future. And babies always represent the future in the same way children represent the future to adults. And so Jonas takes the baby so the baby's life will be saved, but he takes the baby also in order to begin again with a new life.

Q. When you wrote the ending, were you afraid some readers would want more details or did you want to leave the ending open to individual interpretation?

A. Many kids want a more specific ending to The Giver. Some write, or ask me when they see me, to spell it out exactly. And I don't do that. And the reason is because The Giver is many things to many different people. People bring to it their own complicated beliefs and hopes and dreams and fears and all of that. So I don't want to put my own feelings into it, my own beliefs, and ruin that for people who create their own endings in their minds.

Q. Is it an optimistic ending? Does Jonas survive?

A. I will say that I find it an optimistic ending. How could it not be an optimistic ending, a happy ending, when that house is there with its lights on and music is playing? So I'm always kind of surprised and disappointed when some people tell me that they think the boy and the baby just die. I don't think they die. What form their new life takes is something I like people to figure out for themselves. And each person will give it a different ending. I think they're out there somewhere and I think that their life has changed and their life is happy, and I would like to think that's true for the people they left behind as well.

Q. In what way is your book Gathering Blue a companion to The Giver?

A. Gathering Blue postulates a world of the future, as The Giver does. I simply created a different kind of world, one that had regressed instead of leaping forward technologically as the world of The Giver has. It was fascinating to explore the savagery of such a world. I began to feel that maybe it coexisted with Jonas's world . . . and that therefore Jonas could be a part of it in a tangential way. So there is a reference to a boy with light eyes at the end of Gathering Blue. He can be Jonas or not, as you wish.

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

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#37 in Books > Teens
#37 in Books > Teens

Customer Reviews

Great second book to the Giver series... can't wait to read the others.
Alisha
In short, Gathering Blue is a wonderful book with an exciting plot, interesting characters, and very well written.
Amanda M. Lee
Gathering Blue, by Lois Lowry, is another great novel about a future society.
Kate

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

134 of 140 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Haugh TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Lois Lowry has written a number of excellent books including "Number the Stars" and my personal favorite, "The Giver." In fact, "The Giver" is a book that I would consider truly great. Reminiscent of Orwell's "1984", it, too, describes an anti-utopian future of considerable power. But, whereas in "1984" we know the strangeness of the world we are reading about from the first paragraph, Lowry builds the strangeness of the world of "The Giver" slowly, with revelations that take the story to a fever-pitch. It is a wonderful book.
"Gathering Blue" has a similar flavor to "The Giver" but not the power. Whereas "The Giver" reminded me of "1984", "Gathering Blue" reminded me of "Planet of the Apes." Now, I'm a fan of "Planet of the Apes", mind you, but it's not the same thing.
Again, in "Gathering Blue", there is the story of an anti-utopian future society. Kira is a girl who has lost both of her parents. The book opens with her mourning her mother. Because of her deformed leg, Kira is now at risk of being killed herself as she can no longer contribute to her society made primitive after an event called the Ruin. Her unequalled skill with a needle and thread, however, keep her alive and get her close enough to the power of her society to see its secret horrors.
"Gathering Blue" is a good story. Certainly better than much of what's out there. What I like about this story even over "The Giver" is that it seems almost more real. While reading, I felt that this kind of primitive society could really develop. What it lacks is the tension and surprises of "The Giver.
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77 of 79 people found the following review helpful By K. Denny on August 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
What if all modern technology vanished? What if the daily struggle for food and shelter became the utmost priority in our world? Who would be considered of value in the society that followed? Ms. Lowry has given readers a story with all the impact of her earlier book, The Giver. Gathering Blue is also a novel set in the possible future, where insular towns and villages have developed, and contact between them is almost nonexistent. In one of these villages, the reader is introduced to a young girl named Kira. Through Kira's eyes, the reader is gradually pulled in to discover the horrifying, and entirely possible, secret of Kira's world. Gathering Blue is absolutely stunning in the concepts it presents; I'm certain that teachers will want to incorporate this powerful book into their reading curriculum. Along with Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli and Matilda Bone by Karen Cushman, Gathering Blue will be among the top contenders for next year's Newbery Award.
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Gwen A Orel on December 30, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Like many readers, I was completely floored by THE GIVER. I had heard Lowry interviewed on NPR, and finding myself in a bookstore not long after, thumbed through the book-- and felt absolutely compelled to buy it. Reading that book I had to look up several times to wipe away tears, and look around at all the beauties of our own world that we so often take for granted-- like the color red-- singing-- and unconditional love.
Now, GATHERING BLUE did not have that impact for me. But it's a very good example of a YA novel with a smart, kind heroine in a world that is complex, often brutish, and all to human. Where the world of THE GIVER, we gradually discover, is technologically advanced but emotionally and psychologically regimented, even soul-destroying, the catastrophes have turned the world of GATHERING BLUE to a fierce hunter-gatherer society.
It's a world where deformed people are routinely abandoned to death at birth, and where children, or "tykes," are redistributed to other families should one parent die, where parenting is full of shouts and slaps (but also, we see in glimpses, some kisses and handholding) and where those who can't contribute or work in an obvious fashion are ruthlessly discarded.
For all that, however, it's a world more familiar to the reader than the world of THE GIVER, and somehow, a friendlier place. Perhaps because family units, however bickering, do exist, or because of the presence of a mischievous child named MATT who even has a pet dog, this world's harshness is less shocking. Everyone in the world is brought up with it, knows about, no secrets there.
There are secrets, however.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Julia Shpak on November 1, 2010
Format: Paperback
Who can gather the bluest of the blue in the place that is full of greyness, dark envy, and greed?

Kira, a crippled young weaver with an extraordinary skill at the art of embroidery, lives in a medieval-like, primitive, technology-free village full of casual cruelty and brutality. Her father was conveniently killed by "beasts", and her mother got sick and passed away, leaving Kira unprotected in this community. But instead of being cast to the beasts, the society's Council of Guardians installs her as a caretaker of the Singer's robe, a ceremonial garment embroidered with the scenes of human history and used at the annual Gathering.

Many dark secrets and hidden agendas unravel before Kira as she works on restoration of Singer's robe and learns how to prepare dyes from her teacher Annabella. But the only color that her society has no knowledge of - is blue.

The blue is the color Kira needs to restore the scenes of the past on the Singer's robe and to continue working on the scenes of the future. Kira needs to "gather blue", gather all her courage to shape the future by following her art, trusting what it "tells" her in its mysterious ways, trusting into the better future for her people.

Julia Shpak
Author of "Power of Plentiful Wisdom". Available on Amazon.
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