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Lowry talk at Concord City Auditorium the hottest ticket in town

Lois Lowry
(Courtesy photo)

Lois Lowry (Courtesy photo)

To understand why tickets to today’s talk with author Lois Lowry in Concord are a hot commodity, look no further than Anne Beaupre.

Beaupre, of Manchester, credits Lowry’s The Giver with changing her young son’s attitude toward books. Beaupre and her son, Luke Barreto, will be in attendance today when the New Hampshire Humanities Council hosts the free event at the Concord City Auditorium.

“It changed his view of reading,” Beaupre said. “I think Lois Lowry speaks to young adults, not at them. She trusts they can handle it.”

With the show sold out and ticket requests rolling in, the humanities council issued an emergency notice this week asking people to return tickets they weren’t going to use. Almost all 854 tickets were gobbled up in the days after the show was announced, and the waiting list at one point had more than 150 people on it.

Between 40 and 50 tickets were returned yesterday, said Anne Coughlin, director of marketing for the humanities council.

“We sent a couple really clear reminders this week saying that some people are being turned away from this event,” Coughlin said. To inquire about tickets today, visit the humanities council website or visit the Concord City Auditorium box office before the scheduled 2 p.m. start. “Due to some cancellations, some seats have opened. Unless a crazy deluge of people showed up, we would have tickets,” Coughlin said.

Beaupre, who heard only recently about the talk, had been on the waiting list until a few days ago. “I didn’t think we’d be able to go, but we are, and my son is thrilled,” Beaupre said.

Luke did a book report on The Giver last year. This year, in seventh grade, he is re-reading Lowry’s most popular novel.

The story’s main character, Jonas, is named as the Receiver of Memory in Lowry’s dystopian society. With the respected designation comes loneliness, as Jonas adjusts to life as the holder of society’s collective memory.

“He said, ‘Mom, I didn’t realize this book is so big.’ He’s looking at it differently than he was a year ago,” Beaupre said.

“We’ve seen many generations of readers – and every few years there’s a new generation – share this book with the next generation as they would something sacred, something to be savored,” Michael Hermann, owner of Gibson’s Bookstore, said in an email. “The book has a lot of staying power. Not every writer has this kind of success. Most don’t. And Lois Lowry has written so many great books.”

The 1993 book earned Lowry her second prestigious Newbery Medal. She won the first award in 1990 for Number the Stars, which recounts the story of a Danish gentile who risks her life to protect and evacuate Jewish people from Denmark during World War II.

Lowry is expected to talk about her work, answer audience questions and sign copies of The Giver for sale by Gibson’s. She might also discuss her recent trip to South Africa, where a major motion picture adaptation of The Giver was filmed, starring Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges and Taylor Swift.

The capacity crowd means Lowry can sign a maximum of three books, Coughlin said.

Also in attendance today will be students in the humanities council’s Connections program, a book discussion group for new Americans and non-native speakers. Through the use of children’s literature, the program promotes English language skills, promotes a culture of reading and nurtures conversation while readers contribute their own ideas and stories. Connections students have been reading and discussing Lowry’s books in preparation for the event.

“I really think The Giver resonates deeply for some people. They really want to meet the person who wrote this book,” Coughlin said. “I think it’s very much a book people share with the people they love.”

Lowry’s appearance is sponsored by the New Hampshire Humanities Council’s Connections adult literacy program and was made possible with underwriting support from Parker Education, The Rowley Agency and The Works Bakery Cafe.

(Iain Wilson can be reached at 369-3313 or iwilson@cmonitor.com.)

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