Gathering Blue

Gathering Blue

by Lois Lowry
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Overview

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

In her strongest work to date, Lois Lowry once again creates a mysterious but plausible future world. It is a society ruled by savagery and deceit that shuns and discards the weak. Left orphaned and physically flawed, young Kira faces a frightening, uncertain future. Blessed with an almost magical talent that keeps her alive, she struggles with ever broadening responsibilities in her quest for truth, discovering things that will change her life forever.

As she did in The Giver, Lowry challenges readers to imagine what our world could become, how people could evolve, and what will be considered valuable. Every reader will be taken by Kira's plight and will long ponder her haunting world and the hope for the future.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780756912956
Publisher: Random House Childrens Books
Publication date: 02/01/2001
Series: Giver Quartet Series , #2
Pages: 215
Product dimensions: 4.00(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Lois Lowry is the author of more than thirty books for children and young adults, including the New York Times bestselling Giver Quartet and 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 loislowry.com or follow her on Twitter @LoisLowryWriter.

Read an Excerpt

"Mother?"

There was no reply. She hadn't expected one. Her mother had been dead now for four days, and Kira could tell that the last of the spirit was drifting away.

"Mother." She said it again, quietly, to whatever was leaving. She thought that she could feel its leave taking, the way one could feel a small whisper of breeze at night.

Now she was all alone. Kira felt the aloneness, the uncertainty, and a great sadness.

This had been her mother, the warm and vital woman whose name had been Katrina. Then after the brief and unexpected sickness, it had become the body of Katrina, still containing the lingering spirit. After four sunsets and sunrises, the spirit, too, was gone. It was simply a body. Diggers would come and sprinkle a layer of soil over the flesh, but even so it would be eaten by the clawing, hungry creatures that came at night. Then the bones would scatter, rot, and crumble to become part of the earth.

Kira wiped briefly at her eyes, which had filled with tears. She had loved her mother, and would miss her terribly. But it was time for her to go. She wedged her walking stick in the soft ground, leaned on it, and pulled herself up.

She looked around uncertainly. She was young still, and had not experienced death before, not in the small two-person family that she and her mother had been. Of course she had seen others go through the rituals. She could see some of them in the vast foul smelling Field of Leaving, huddled beside the ones whose lingering spirits they tended. She knew that a woman named Helena was there, watching the spirit leave her infant, who had been born too soon. Helena had come to the Fieldonly the day before. Infants did not require the four days of watching; the wisps of their spirits, barely arrived, drifted away quickly. So Helena would return to the village and her family soon.

As for Kira, she had no family, now. Nor any home. The cott she had shared with her mother had been burned. This was always done after sickness. The small structure, the only home Kira had ever known, was gone. She had seen the smoke in the distance as she sat with the body. As she watched the spirit of her mother drift away, she had seen the cindered fragments of her childhood life whirl into the sky as well.

She felt a small shudder of fear. Fear was always a part of life for the people. Because of fear, they made shelter and found food and grew things. For the same reason, weapons were stored, waiting. There was fear of cold, of sickness and hunger. There was fear of beasts.

And fear propelled her now as she stood, leaning on her stick. She looked down a last time at the lifeless body that had once contained her mother, and considered where to go.

Kira thought about rebuilding. If she could find help, though help was unlikely, it wouldn't take long to build a cott, especially not this time of year, summerstart, when tree limbs were supple and mud was thick and abundant beside the river. She had often watched others building, and Kira realized that she could probably construct some sort of shelter for herself. Its corners and chimney might not be straight. The roof would be difficult because her bad leg made it almost impossible for her to climb. But she would find a way. Somehow she would build a cott. Then she would find a way to make a life.

Her mother's brother had been near her in the Field for two days, not guarding Katrina, his sister, but sitting silently beside the body of his own woman, the short-tempered Solora, and that of their new infant who had been too young to have a name. They had nodded to each other, Kira and her mother's brother in acknowledgment. But he had departed, his time in the Field of Leaving finished. He had tykes to tend; he and Solora had two others in addition to the one that had brought about her death. The others were still small, their names yet of one syllable: Dan and Mar. Perhaps I could care for them, Kira thought briefly, trying to find her own future within the village. But even as the thought flickered within her, she knew that it would not be permitted. Solora's tykes would be given away, distributed to those who had none. Healthy, strong tykes were valuable; properly trained, they could contribute to family needs and would be greatly desired.

No one would desire Kira. No one ever had, except her mother. Often Katrina had told Kira the story of her birth–the birth of a fatherless girl with a twisted leg–and how her mother had fought to keep her alive.

"They came to take you," Katrina said, whispering the story to her in the evening, in their cott, with the fire fed and glowing. "You were one day old, not yet named your one-syllable infant name–"

"Kir."

"Yes, that's right: Kir. They brought me food and were going to take you away to the Field–"

Kira shuddered. It was the way, the custom, and it was the merciful thing, to give an unnamed, imperfect infant back to the earth before its spirit had filled it and made it human. But it made her shudder.

Katrina stroked her daughter's hair. "They meant no harm," she reminded her.

Kira nodded. "They didn't know it was me."

"It wasn't you, yet."

"Tell me again why you told them no," Kira whispered.

Her mother sighed, remembering. "I knew I would not have another child," she pointed out. "Your father had been taken by beasts. It had been several months since he went off to hunt and did not return. And so I would not give birth again.

"Oh," she added, "perhaps they would have given me one eventually, an orphan to raise. But as I held you–even then, with your spirit not yet arrived and with your leg bent wrong so that it was clear you would not ever run–even then, your eyes were bright. I could see the beginning of something remarkable in your eyes. And your fingers were long and well-shaped–"

"And strong. My hands were strong," Kira added with satisfaction. She had heard the story so often; each time of hearing, she looked down at her strong hands with pride.

Her mother laughed. "So strong they gripped my own thumb fiercely and would not let go. Feeling that fierce tug on my thumb, I could not let them take you away. I simply told them no."

"They were angry."

"Yes. But I was firm. And, of course, my father was still alive. He was old then, four syllables, and he had been the leader of the people, the chief guardian, for a long time. They respected him. And your father would have been a greatly respected leader too had he not died on the long hunt. He had already been chosen–to be a guardian."

"Say my father's name to me," Kira begged.








From the Paperback edition.

Copyright 2002 by Lois Lowry

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Lowry returns to the metaphorical future world of her Newbery-winning The Giver. . . . Plenty of material for thought and discussion here, plus a touch of magic and a tantalizing hint about the previous book’s famously ambiguous ending." (6/15/00) Kirkus Reviews with Pointers

"Lowry is a master at creating worlds, both real and imagined, and this incarnation of our civilization some time in the future is one of her strongest creations." —Booklist, starred review (6/1/00) Booklist, ALA, Starred Review

Reading Group Guide

1. Discuss what gave Katrina, Kira’s mother, the courage to stand up to the people of the village and spare Kira’s life, when the custom in Kira’s society was to destroy babies born with birth defects. Do you think Katrina was aware of her daughter’s gift? Katrina never created the color blue. Do you think she knew that her daughter would someday find the secret of creating blue?

2. At the beginning of the novel, Katrina dies and Kira is left homeless. Kira is fearful, especially when Vandara, a vicious and angry woman, tells her that she is worthless. Discuss the strength Kira displays when she faces the Council of Guardians. How does Kira show strength and courage throughout the novel?

3. Discuss the way children are treated in Kira’s society. What is the difference between abuse and neglect? How is Matt both abused and neglected? What is his role in the story? How does Matt contribute to Kira’s growth as a person and an artist?

4. Vandara is known throughout the village. “People whispered about her. She was known, and respected. Or feared.” (p. 15) How can someone who is feared be respected? Discuss whether the women of the village fear Vandara more than they respect her. How do you know that they don’t really agree with Vandara regarding Kira’s fate?

5. What qualities determine the difference between skill and art? Debate whether Katrina was a skilled weaver or an artist. At what point in the novel does Kira display the true qualities of an artist?

6. Why is the history of the people called the Ruin Song? The scenes on the Singer’s Robe represent Ruin, Rebuilding, Ruin Again, andRegrowth. How does this symbolize the history of our world?

7. Kira has always been told that beasts killed her father. When Kira tells Jamison that Annabella says there are no beasts, he replies, “She’s very old. It’s dangerous for her to speak that way.” (p. 128) Do you think Annabella knows the truth about Kira’s father? Discuss whether Jamison is responsible for Annabella’s death.

8. Matt is concerned that Kira might be held captive at the Council Edifice. How is it that he has a better understanding of the meaning of captivity than Kira does? Debate whether Kira and Thomas, the young carver, are indeed held captive even though they are allowed to roam. At what point does Kira realize that she isn’t really free?

9. What do Kira, Thomas, and Jo have in common? Interpret the following statement: “They were forcing the children to describe the future they wanted, not the one that could be.” (p. 212)

10. At the end of the novel, Matt brings Christopher, Kira’s blind father, to meet her. How does meeting her father alter Kira’s concept of her purpose in life and her contribution to her society’s future?


Prepared by Pat Scales, Director of Library Services, South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, Greenville

Customer Reviews

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Gathering Blue 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 748 reviews.
Amy-la More than 1 year ago
Pain. Thats all Kira feels. Pain from her crippled leg, pain from her mother's death, and pain from being deemed useless in a community where physical prowess means everything. Lois Lowry brings us yet another riveting tale about the future. But this time it is different. Where as The Giver shows a future where there is no color and no difference, Gathering Blue is a world full of color. It is about dealing with trying to find a place in a society that does not want you, that can't use you. This village appears to bring out the worst of human nature. The villages are full of greed and jealousy and hate, and they have no place, not in the village and not in their hearts, for the newly orphaned Kira, who can't do the hard labor in a village that demands for it. As Lois Lowry weaves the story of Kira, our young heroine, we are swept along on a journey of self-discovery. And it is one that will lead us to find the dark secretes that lurk in human nature. Gathering Blue is an unforgettable story, one that will leave you breathless and wanting for more.
booksatruestory More than 1 year ago
Gathering Blue is about an orphan girl, Kira, with a gift of dyeing and weaving threads. The community and the characters are completely different from The Giver. The story feels nothing like The Giver until you get to the end, where Lois Lowry ties the two books together in a beautiful way. And yes, you get to find out at the end what happens to Jonas. I liked contrasting this society with that of Jonas’s from The Giver. In some ways this community is worse off because there is poverty, hunger and no education. But in some ways this community is better than Jonas’s because there is color, personality, deep family love, and some freedom. Not a lot of freedom, but some. I loved the naming system in this world. I found it very creative. How many syllables your name has is a status of how old they are. I loved how beautiful the writing was. Lois Lowry is a master and making you turn the pages. With every page you get a sense of something else being not quite right (as she said at her signing) and that’s what kept me glued to the story. She goes into a lot of depth of what the main character is thinking and feeling which I loved. The story sucked me in all the way until the ambiguous ending. I have a feeling she likes those… She said at her signing that she likes leaving things up to the imagination. If the ending is done right, I say that I have to agree. And Lois knows how to end it just right. I found this book to be another powerful story from her about family and love.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a Language Arts teacher for 5th/6th grade. We have read both The Giver and Gathering Blue. Both books are excellent teaching tools for the classroom. My classes loved them both. I am ordering The Messenger to preview as I may also add that book to my classroom.
Rosemarie Goldman More than 1 year ago
Im only eleven years old and it is one of my favorite books!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The only reason why i read this book is because for school i had to read a science fiction book. I hated the book at first it was boring and slow. In the middle of the book things speeded up. To tell you the truth this is the best book ever! And if you dont like it in the begining keep reading it gets better! THIS IS A MESSAGE TO THE AUTHOR OF GATHERING BLUE PLEASE MAKE A SECOND BOOK I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS IN THE FURTURE!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kira the crippled but brave girl is a social outcast in a society who rejects non-laborers. Not only that but she is orphanded and is now forced to grow up and take rrsponsibilities. Later kira expects to fight for her life in court but unexpectedly ends up having a higher place in the city. But is it really what it appears? Is this the right place for Kira? Find out in the smashing novel Gathering Blue and meet kiras new friends that she meets along the way. Over all this book is truley amazing. Really well thought out and will have you reading untill the last page then wanting more. Very good book reports too! Has all of those element that teachers love!
Sara Hovis More than 1 year ago
I loved this as much as The Giver....my favorite book. I couldnt put it down.
Patrick Jones More than 1 year ago
I haven't finished it yet but it's AWESOME!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gathering Blue is okay, but you have to read The Giver first.
emma-bear_ More than 1 year ago
Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry, was a book about a young girl, named Kira, in a society slightly after the one we live in today. With her mother being dead, and her father taken by "beasts", she is now an orphan. She has to go up to the council of elders to see whether or not she should be put to death. With the ruling given as no, she has to now live as a servant for the community, threading and dyeing clothes. She meets new friends, and learns new talents. Eventually, she learns that there are secrets in this village, that even she doesn't know. I enjoyed the book, and the whole "I need to make blue" thing, but where was the connection to "The Giver"? That book was fantastic. This book was its "companion" and it was only average. The only connection I find is that they are both cities in the future that are nothing like our own. What would have been a good ending is if they showed us an epilouge saying something along the lines of, "20 years later... Kira and Thomas are married with a baby boy named Jonas..." I know that it wouldn't be THE Jonas, but it would still be a connection to "The Giver". Overall, this book was alright, but nowhere near as good as "The Giver".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My mom bought me this book and I thought it looked really stupid! But i stated reading and I started to love it! I enjoyed how a girl with such little strength accomplished so much! One thing is dont read it before you go to bed it is not a thing to read before you go to bed, I loved this book you have to read it (:
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Some people say that these books arent related to eachother. Well, they are SO WRONG! The first two books dont seem very related, but you will see if you read the other ones. They will all fall into place!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
REALLY ENJOYED this book #2 of The Giver quartet. Although it starts off slow, the reader will thoroughly appreciate the detailed chapters that lead to its climax towards the very end. Looking forward to the continuation which is The Messsenger.
sissy_sassy More than 1 year ago
wow this is the second book i read by Lois Lowry and i loved it...its an amazing story, i also read the Giver, before this one and now im on to the next book in the trilogy. definitely recomend this book. just dont read it at night unless you have a lot of time to spare, :) i think i have found a new Favorite author..lol...the only thing i did not like is the end, it just leaves u wanting more but other than that i loved the book...
Guest More than 1 year ago
Everyone says that this book is the sequel to The Giver, but it is not. It is a companion. This book is awesome if you want to learn a good life lesson.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this book, thinking it was a sequal to "The Giver" and that it would pick up where Jonas left off. I admit, I was a little dissapointed that it was a whole different book. But, I didn't want to waste 6$, so I read on. I was supprised that I started to really enjoy this book, not as good as "The Giver" but still worth the 6$.
TheSue More than 1 year ago
Wasn't sure how it related to the first book until the end. Then it all came together and I couldn't wait to read The Messenger, which was an incredible book as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book for kids 8 and older. This is kind of part of a series, First book: the giver Second book: gather blue Third book: the messanger
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im on chapter 16 and this book is amazing! Can't wait to read what's next
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to read this book for a summer assinment for school and it was okay but i liked it alot! :D
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I as many others was made by my school to read this book. The book was amazing. I totally suggest that all of you book lovers should read this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'd give it a 3 out of 5
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A teacher read us The Giver in 1995 (7th grade), I hated it. Found it too disturbing. But in 2009, I thought Gathering Blue sounded good. I read it and liked it. I then reread The Giver (saddened by it this time...still distubing) and appreciated the story. Then read The Messenger. I recommend all three, the connect, and are worthy the readings.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great book, but was`nt it suppose to be the companion book to The Giver? If you read The Giver read on but if not stop reading this, read TheGiver, then finish this. Maybe this is where Jobas ended up. If so then Louis Lowrey should have mentioned him. I liked this book but se no resemblince between these two books.
Manaal Sheikh More than 1 year ago
If u like/ love The Giver then u would love Gathering Blue !!!!!!! When ur done with those 2 go and read the Messenger !!!!!!!!!!!!