4.4 96
by Lois Lowry

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Where do dreams come from? What stealthy nighttime messengers are the guardians of our most deeply hidden hopes and our half-forgotten fears? Drawing on her rich imagination, two-time Newbery winner Lois Lowry confronts these questions and explores the conflicts between the gentle bits and pieces of the past that come to life in dream, and the darker horrors that…  See more details below


Where do dreams come from? What stealthy nighttime messengers are the guardians of our most deeply hidden hopes and our half-forgotten fears? Drawing on her rich imagination, two-time Newbery winner Lois Lowry confronts these questions and explores the conflicts between the gentle bits and pieces of the past that come to life in dream, and the darker horrors that find their form in nightmare. In a haunting story that tiptoes between reality and imagination, two people—a lonely, sensitive woman and a damaged, angry boy—face their own histories and discover what they can be to one another, renewed by the strength that comes from a tiny, caring creature they will never see.

Gossamer is perfect for readers not quite ready for Lois Lowry's Newbery-Award winner The Giver and also for readers interested in dreams, nightmares, spirits and the dream world.

Editorial Reviews

There is method to the madness of dreams -- or so kids will believe after falling under the spell of this superbly imaginative story. A dream-giver whose "touch was like gossamer," Littlest One hails from a race of beings who bestow healing dreams patched together from memory fragments found in sleepers' belongings. Assigned to help a troubled foster child and his elderly guardian, this novice dream-giver must do battle with "sinisteeds" who create nightmares from "hidden things, old guilts, and failings." With one foot in the real world and the other in fantasy, beloved author Lowry reaches a broad spectrum of readers with this deftly spun reverie on courage and the power of love. (Ages 8 to 12)
Child magazine's Best Children's Book Awards 2006
Publishers Weekly
Lowry's poetic, fanciful story of tiny, elfish "dream-givers" who put nighttime imaginings into the heads of human sleepers is not an ideal choice for audio. The many lyrical, detailed descriptions of the dream-givers gathering "fragments" of memory by touching objects and then weaving them into dreams become overlong and slow-moving when read aloud. Likewise, Twomey's soft, soothing voice fits the subject matter, but may well lull young listeners off to dreamland. Twomey does an excellent job of distinguishing her voice for the different characters, particularly an angry, abused boy and the kind elderly woman who fosters him temporarily, both of whom are strengthened by the healing dreams they are sent. Overall, however, this is a less-than-satisfying listen. Ages 10-up. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
One of the best books I have read so far this year is Gossamer by Lois Lowry, which solves the mystery of where dreams come from. Lois Lowry, whose books like The Giver, Messenger, Gathering Blue (all related), and Number the Stars changed the landscape of children's literature forever, tells stories for all of us. They are true AND real, which is the best thing I can say about any book. This new one, Gossamer, is so comforting and enchanting, so full of truth and whimsy, it probably deserves to be on everybody's "must read" list for 2006. Dreams are the stuff the world is made of. I was shocked by someone telling me that dream analysis is a waste of time, self-centered pandering, and not to be encouraged. Wrong. I tell you, dreams DO mean something. And whatever part of the dream you remember is exactly what you need, like the grain of sand at the center of the pearl. Dreams are the way the unseen part of the universe speaks to us. 2006, Houghton Mifflin, Ages 9 to 12.
—Gwynne Spencer
F. Todd Goodson
Lois Lowry's newest novel explores a fantasy world where angelic beings visit sleeping humans to bestow dreams. The short novel weaves together the stories of a novice dream giver, a lonely woman, and a troubled foster child. Our dream giver, Littlest One, learns to take bits and fragments of happy memories from the objects in people's homes and turn those morsels into dreams capable of helping the woman and the boy through the challenges they face in their waking lives. Gossamer is rich in archetypal characters and imagery, reading something like one of the pleasant dreams bestowed by its central character. Although the book will be of interest to young people who are fans of fantasy and rich narratives, its message of gathering strength for the future from the past in applicable to readers of all ages.
Dream-givers. In the night, they slip about the house, collecting wisps of memories from cherished objects and mementoes with which to bestow sweet dreams on their home's inhabitant, a tender but lonely older woman. Littlest One is the newest trainee, delighting in her job nearly as much as she is overwhelmed by curiosity and wonder. Her tutor, Fastidious, finds her tiring and fears that she is too much of a chatterbox to work without calling attention to her presence. Under more patient tutelage, Littlest discovers a rare gift, the gossamer touch, an ability to touch a living being without awaking it. Her unusual gift may make all the difference when a troubled young boy comes to live in the home and the dream-givers' nightmare-granting counterparts, the Sinisteeds, sense his vulnerability and prepare an attack. Lowry, author of many award-winning books, charmingly succeeds again with this lyrical and compelling story about the importance of memory and the transforming power of love. The story of a damaged child and his struggling mother-about the healing that a loving presence can provide-is devastatingly authentic, but the events in Lowry's imaginary nighttime world mesh so effortlessly with the story set in the real world, illustrating so meticulously why good things provide strength in dark times, that it is difficult not to believe her fantasy is truth. The gentle blend of wit and pathos will enchant readers as much as the charming Littlest One does. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P M J (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2006, Walter Lorraine Books/Houghton Mifflin, 144p., $16.Ages 11 to 15.
—Catherine Gilmore-Clough
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-Readers first meet the dream-givers as they creep around a dark house in the middle of the night where an old woman and a dog named Toby are sleeping. "Littlest was very small, new to the work, energetic and curious. Fastidious was tired, impatient, and had a headache." Littlest is soon paired with a new partner, Thin Elderly, who is a much better guide and teacher than Fastidious was. They are benevolent beings who visit humans (and pets, too) at night. They handle objects, gather memories, and give them back in the form of happy dreams that comfort and help those they're assigned to. The dream-givers' counterparts are the strong and wicked Sinisteeds, who inflict nightmares and sometimes travel in frightening Hordes. And the humans that Littlest and Thin Elderly care for do need help and protection from bad dreams. The old woman is lonely and has taken in a foster child named John, who's living apart from an abusive father and the fragile mother who desperately wants him back. Lowry's prose is simple and clear. This carefully plotted fantasy has inner logic and conviction. Readers will identify with Littlest, who is discovering her own special talents (her touch is so sensitive and delicate that she is renamed Gossamer). John, who starts his stay in the house with anger and violence, will draw a special kind of sympathy, too. Lowry acknowledges evil in the world, yet still conveys hope and large measures of tenderness. While not quite as compelling as The Giver (Houghton, 1993), this is a beautiful novel with an intriguing premise.-Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Thin Elderly and Littlest One are dream-givers. They bestow dreams, using fragments collected from buttons, toys, photographs, shells and other personal objects that collect and hold memories over the years. The collected fragments become stories of the person to whom they belong, and as dreams they transmit restorative feelings of love, pride, happiness, companionship, laughter and courage. However, Sinisteeds are at work here, too, inflicting nightmares and undoing the careful work of the dream-givers. Readers familiar with The Giver will most appreciate Lowry's riff on the value of memories and dreams and the importance of the sad parts of our lives, too. For such a slim work, the characterizations of Thin Elderly and Littlest are strong-she the sprightly little girl learning her trade, he the bemused and patient elder. The prose is light as gossamer; the story as haunting as a dream. (Fiction. 10+)
From the Publisher

"The prose is light as gossamer; the story as haunting as a dream." —Kirkus Reviews, starred Kirkus Reviews, Starred

"Lyrical, richly descriptive prose ushers readers into a fascinating parallel world inhabited by appealingly quirky characters." -Publishers Weekly, starred Publishers Weekly, Starred

"A beautiful novel with an intriguing premise." --School Library Journal, starred School Library Journal, Starred

"Lowry succeeds again with this lyrical and compelling story about the importance of memory and the transforming power of love...The gentle blend of wit and pathos will enchant readers." VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

"...The novel effectively evokes the flimsy and sometimes tentative grasp on happiness and comfort...and the ways in which darkness can be combated through love." Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.13(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.37(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt


By Lois Lowry

Houghton Mifflin Company

ISBN: 0-618-68550-2

Chapter One

An owl called, its shuddering hoots repeating mournfully in the distance. Somewhere nearby, heavy wings swooped and a young rabbit, captured by sharp talons, shrieked as he was lifted to his doom. Startled, a raccoon looked up with bright eyes from the place where he was foraging. Two deer moved in tandem through a meadow. A thin cloud slid across the moon.

* * *

The pair crept stealthily through the small house. Night was their time of work, the time when human conversation had ceased, when thoughts had drifted away and even breathing and heartbeats had slowed. The outdoors was awake and stirring but the little house was dark and silent. They tiptoed, and whispered. Unaware, the woman and her dog slept soundly, though the dog, on his pillow bed of cedar shavings at the foot of the woman's four-poster, moved his legs now and then as if chasing a dream rabbit.

"Are we a kind of dog?" Littlest One asked suddenly.


They crept through the bedroom, out into the dark hall.

"May I talk now?"

"Oh, all right. Very quietly, though."

"I asked if we are a kind of dog."

Littlest One, whose name was sometimes shortened affectionately to simply Littlest, was working on this night with Fastidious, the one who had been designated her teacher. Littlest was very small, new to the work, energetic and curious. Fastidious was tired, impatient, and had a headache. She sniffed inexasperation.

"Whatever makes you ask such a thing? The other learners never ask questions like that."

"That's because they don't take time to think about things. I'm a thinker. Right now I'm thinking about whether I am a kind of dog."

"You just tiptoed past one. What did you notice about him?"

Littlest One thought. "A slight snore, a whiff of doggy breath, and his upper lip was folded under by mistake, just above a big tooth. It gave him an odd expression."

"Does he resemble us in the least?"

Littlest pondered. "No. But I believe there are many kinds of dogs. We saw that book, remember."

"Hurry along," Fastidious said. "There's much to do, and we have to go down the stairs yet."

Littlest One hurried along. The stairs were difficult, and she had to concentrate.

"You do remember the book, don't you? Ouch!" She had stumbled a bit.

"Grasp the carpet fibers. Look how I'm doing it."

"Couldn't we flutter down?"

"We can't waste our flutters. They use up energy."

They both made their way carefully down. "I hear there are houses that have no stairs," Fastidious murmured in an irritated tone. "None at all. I sometimes wish that I had not been assigned this particular house."

Littlest looked around when they reached the bottom of the stairs. She could see now into the large room with the very colorful rug. The small-paned windows were outlined in moonlight on the floor by the rug's edge. "I think this house is lovely," she said. "I wouldn't want any other house."

They tiptoed across. Littlest noticed her own shadow in the moonlight. "My goodness!" she exclaimed. "I didn't know we had shadows!"

"Of course we do. All creatures have shadows. They are a phenomenon created by light."

A phenomenon created by light. What a fine phrase, Littlest thought. She twirled suddenly on the rug and watched her shadow dance.

"Why is your shadow darker than mine?" she asked Fastidious, noticing the difference just then.

"I'm-well, I'm thicker than you. You're barely formed yet. You're practically transparent."

"Oh." Littlest examined her own self and saw that it was true. She had not paid much attention before to her own parts. Now she touched her ears, watching the shadow's arms move, too; then she swiveled her neck to peer down at her own tiny behind.

"I do not have a tail," she announced. "I think I am not a dog. We, I mean. We are not a kind of dog."

"There. You have answered your own question. Come more quickly, please. You are dawdling."

Reluctantly, Littlest scurried across the design of the carpet, beyond the moonlit rectangles, and onto the pine-boarded floor, which was always a little dangerous because of splinters.

"What if the dog woke? Would he see us? Or smell us, perhaps? I know he has a very significant nose. And if he did see us, or smell us, would that be dangerous for us?

"Or the woman? She woke the other night, remember? Because there was a bat in the house? It swooped and woke her somehow. She didn't like the bat. She was quite brave, I remember, and opened a window so the bat flew out into the night, which was where he had wanted to be all along, doing his night food-finding.

"But what if our little footsteps and flutterings had woken her? Would she have seen us?

"Are we visible to her?

"I know we don't fly the way bats do, but we operate at night. Might we be a type of bat?"

Fastidious turned suddenly with a very annoyed gesture. "Enough! Hush! Stop that questioning! We have our work to do. You insisted on coming. You said you'd be quiet. My nerves are becoming frayed. I want no more questions now. None whatsoever."

"All right. I promise," Littlest One said obediently. They continued on, one following the other.

"Are you doing your assigned tasks?"

"Yes. I touched the rug. And I'm touching this sweater now, the one she left on the chair."

"Gently. Do not under any circumstances press. But linger and get the feel of it into yourself."

"Yes, I am. You showed me how." Littlest was running her tiny fingers carefully over the sweater's soft sleeve. Then she touched a button and let her hand linger on it. It was startling, what she felt during the lingering. The entire history of the button came to her, and all it had been part of: a breezy picnic on a hillside in summer long ago; a January night, more recently, by the fire; and even, once, the time that a cup of tea had been spilled on the sweater. It was all there, still.

They moved quietly around the room, touching things. Fastidious half fluttered, half climbed to a tabletop and methodically touched framed photographs. Littlest watched in the moonlight and saw how the fingers chose and touched and felt the faces gazing out from the photographs: a man in uniform; a baby, grinning; an elderly woman with a stern look. Forgetting her promise of no questions, Littlest suddenly asked, "Might we be human?" But Fastidious did not reply.


Excerpted from Gossamer by Lois Lowry Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

Lois Lowry 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.

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