Lois Lowry was the keynote. Do I need to gush? Having her sign a copy of The Giver and hearing her read were highlights of ALA for me this year. Listening to talk about her body of work was awesome. The theme of her talk was book banning, Banned Books Week having just passed.
She illustrated the point poignantly by first sharing a picture of her as a child with her grandmother on the beach and then pointing out the USS Arizona in the background. A cropped version of the picture may have left a lovely picture of a girl and her grandmother, but left out something that gave it deeper meaning. There are many people in the world who wish that she would sanitize her books in the same way that picture was. (Google her name and 'Antichrist' for an extremist view - I will not provide a link.)
Her challenged and challenging books hold a special spot on my bookshelf, between Harry Potter and Flotsam. The Giver is one of my favorite books and has been since the day I first read it. Such a part of me, I feel that I read it quite a bit younger than would have been possible since the book was not published until I was in high school. It never occurred to me to question the fate of Jonas, I was always just in awe. During the Q&A session Ms. Lowry was once again asked about whether Jonas lived or died. I was quite surprised, I would have expected that a crowd comprised of mostly librarians would have already heard/read her answer to that question. She answered quite graciously, mentioning Gathering Blue and Messenger. In other Giver news, the movie may finally become a reality with David Yates at the helm.
Lois began her talk with The Giver and (lucky us) wrapped up with a sneak peek at her next book, a story of four children with horrible parents. It looks funny and brilliant, like Lowry herself.