« "Snow Blankets the East".... | Main | Thanks, all »



Ignore this one... it is not worth your time or mental energy. There are too many people, both young and old, who see the worth and literary merit of The Giver.


On the one hand it must be terribly disheartening for you to endure a blunt bashing of your chosen profession and life's work; on the other hand, I highly doubt this boy meant much by writing this e-mail. He most likely did it on a whim; heck, his friend might even have dared him to and try to get it published on the author's website. For young boys (which I have been one not long ago), finding silly ways to undermine and challenge what everybody else around them calls educational or holds in high regard is almost a way of life. As sad as it is, it's a lot more fun to spoof and ridicule a good novel rather than pore over it seeking insightful points. Taking it personally would be most unwise, albeit understandable.


Personally, I'd be tempted to edit it and send it back with a grade on it. It would not be an "A." He may not like your book, and he's welcome to his opinion, but this poorly written outburst shows only that he's learned how to badly mimic book reviews and attempt to condescend.

Lauren Hughes

I am an English and Reading teacher in Maryland. I was spending the snowy evening bookmarking favorite authors' websites and came across your blog. After reading this entry, I had to tell you what happened this past Friday at my school. I took one of my gifted reading classes to the library to check out books before winter break. Two girls in my class were both interested in reading The Giver, and there was only one copy left. The librarian told me that all the other copies had been checked out that week. Your books are SO popular and SO well-loved. I attended the National Book Festival this year in DC and waited in line for over two hours (in the rain) for your autograph. The Giver ranks up in my top three favorite books of all time, and I hope you don't let an ignorant teenager's words discourage you. As a teacher, I run into ALL KINDS of students. There are some truly amazing kids out there, and they are the kids I get out of bed for each day. The disrespectful ones can really irk me too sometimes. However, I have to focus on sweet, bright, compassionate, insightful students. And believe me when I say-- we've got a lot of good kids out there.


Clearly this kid is angry. Probably at having to read a book.

THE GIVER, I'm sure, just happened to be the book he was assigned to read and probably write a book report after reading it.

THE GIVER is a challenging book, and obviously, this kid is not at the top of his class--which means having to think, and having to work.

He is angry at having to do this, I'm sure. On top of that, he can't talk back to his teachers. Therefore, he vents his frustrations by writing an angry letter to the originator of his agony: The Author of the book.

We could simply ignore the slings and arrows of his rant, but I think he's clamoring for help.

Just a thought.

Maureen Hume

1)When this sort of thing happens it always says so much more about the writer than the person it's written about.
2)Kids can be the cruelist people on the planet. Their brains are only half cooked.
Maureen. www.thepizzagang.com

J. Angelo Racoma

Hi Lois,

I'd just get a good laugh out of it and move on. :) I'd rather not risk the headache I usually get when trying to read through misspellings, grammatical error and--the worst--poor arguments.


ugh. i'm sorry.


In a word: ugh.

I think if you are old enough to read a chapter book, then you are old enough to know what pain you cause when you write or say something that is cruel and disrespectful. This is not an email where a young writer stumbles in his attempt to offer constructive criticism. He set out to be as horrible as possible and probably enjoyed doing it. After all, it can be very good fun to write out a scathing opinion of something you didn’t like, and these days you can hit “send” or “post” before you’ve thought twice about the person at the receiving end. Grownups do it all the time in the comments sections of online newspapers, which are often dominated by hastily scribbled, appallingly rude posts.

Maybe this boy was instructed by his teacher to write a letter to an author, and this is how he made the task more interesting. Who knows? The truth is that both kids and adults can be bullies and jerks. Perhaps replying to this one will help shape him into a more sensitive individual, and perhaps Ms. Lowry will decide that’s a good reason to write back. But I don't think authors should feel obliged to take time away from their work to craft a thoughtful response to a thoughtless email, regardless of the age of the letter writer.


What I liked in this letter was the phrase "The Art of Manuscription." It sounds like the title of a very, very bad coffee table book.

 Kelly Browne

My Dear Lois Lowry,

I'm in my fifteen year of teaching both THE GIVER and NUMBER THE STARS to my sixth graders in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and may I say that they are always the highlights of our year. Is THE GIVER always everyone's favorite? No. Some definitely feel frustrated by the open ending, but the discussions which result are always exciting and thought-provoking. For many of them, it's not only their favorite novel in my class, but their favorite novel ever.

Annemarie and Ellen in NUMBER THE STARS (which I begin my year with every single September) become the allegorical references for bravery, loyalty and friendship throughout the year.

Thank you, Lois Lowry. Your name is spoken with adoration and reverence in this little corner of the world.


The mind boggles.
Honestly, I couldn't even finish reading what he'd written because the spelling mistakes were making me have facial tics. Clearly, this kid's time would be better spent studying English, reviewing his vocabulary and practicing his spelling (or even learning how to use his email program's spell checker) rather than sending ill-conceived, immature rants to talented, celebrated authors. Don't sweat it!


He needs to learn how to spell.

The letter made me laugh so hard. It was preposterously disrespectful.


obviously this kid has no sense in good literature, and if he thinks the giver is such a bad book he should ignore it and mind his own business.
I loved the giver and I have read it three times. I am also only 12.


I just finished (this morning actually) reading The Giver for the second time for a book club. The meeting to discuss it will be next week, so I'll see what my friends thought of it then. I think "XXXX" was trying to say that he was frustrated that some parts of the books are not explained and are left as mysteries. For example, The Giver's ability to transmit dreams or the method used for "climate control". Isn't that the definition of science fiction: using technology that isn't currently understood or explainable. I wonder if he has read any other dystopias. He would have to say the same thing about the ending of Fahrenheit 451. Besides, he contradicted himself. If he really was so apathetic and uninterested in the book, he wouldn't have written a letter at all.

The comments to this entry are closed.