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Gathering Blue

by Lois Lowry


Book Review

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Publishers Weekly :

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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 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Book Review

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School Library Journal :

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Gr 5-9-In Kira's community, people's cotts, or homes, are burned after an illness. After her mother dies suddenly, homeless Kira finds her former neighbors coveting the land where her cott once stood. They also resent that Kira, who was born with a deformed leg, wasn't abandoned at birth, in accordance with the society's rules. The Council of Guardians recognizes her skill at embroidery and lets her live in the Council Edifice, the one large old building left after the Ruin. Her job is to repair and restore the robe that the Singer wears during the annual Gathering that recounts the history of her community and to complete a blank section, which is to depict the future. When her young friend Matt journeys "yonder" and returns with the plants Kira needs to create blue dye and knowledge of a wider world, she pieces together the truth. The power-hungry Guardians have lied and manipulated the villagers in order to maintain their status. Kira is united with her father, whom she had believed was dead, but decides to stay at the Edifice until she embroiders a peaceful future on the robe. As in Lowry's The Giver (Houghton, 1993), the young protagonist is chosen by powerful adults to carry out an important task; through the exploration of this responsibility, knowledge grows, and a life-altering choice must be made. Lowry has once again created a fully realized world full of drama, suspense, and even humor. Readers won't forget these memorable characters or their struggles in an inhospitable world.-Ellen Fader, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR MCNICOLL, Sylvia. Bringing Up Beauty. 204p. CIP. Stoddart. 2000. pap. $5.95. ISBN 0-7736-7479-9. LC C99-930791-6. Gr 4-6-A story of love, responsibility, growing up, and letting go. Elizabeth and her family have signed up as puppy trainers for Canine Vision Canada. It is their duty to teach an ungainly black Lab some of the elementary commands and behaviors she will need in order to become a guide dog, and most of the responsibility has fallen on Elizabeth. While she trains Beauty, the dog teaches her some useful lessons that help her deal with turning 13, finding and going beyond her first crush, and coping with loss. Elizabeth's voice is often too mature for a 12-year-old, and the story is sometimes overwritten. The real strength here is the bond that McNicoll develops between Beauty and Elizabeth. It is strong and heartwarming, resulting in an emotionally satisfying read.-Randi Hacker, Montgomery Elementary School, VT

Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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