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Gossamer
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Gossamer
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From the two-time Newbery Award winning author of Number the Stars and The Giver, comes a novel about how even the smallest of dreams can break through the darkest of nights. Littlest One is a tiny...
From the two-time Newbery Award winning author of Number the Stars and The Giver, comes a novel about how even the smallest of dreams can break through the darkest of nights. Littlest One is a tiny...
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Description-

  • From the two-time Newbery Award winning author of Number the Stars and The Giver, comes a novel about how even the smallest of dreams can break through the darkest of nights.

    Littlest One is a tiny creature slowly learning her job of giving dreams to humans. Each night she and her teacher, Thin Elderly, visit an old woman's home where she softly touches beloved objects, gathering happy memories, and drops of old scents and sounds. Littlest One pieces these bits together and presents them to her sleeping human in the form of pleasant dreams. But the dreaded Sinisteeds, dark fearsome creatures that plague their victims with nightmares, are always at work against the dreamgivers. When the old woman takes in John, an angry foster child with a troubled past, the Sinisteeds go after him with their horrifying nightmares. Can Littlest One, and her touch light as gossamer, protect John's heart and soul from the nightmare of his dark past?
 

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Excerpts-

  • From the cover

    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.
    "Shhh."
    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 in exasperation.
    "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 verycolorful 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...

About the Author-

  • Lois Lowry is also known for her Anastasia books. She and illustrator Middy Thomas also collaborated on Gooney Bird Greene. The author lives in Cambridge, MA.

Reviews-

  • AudioFile Magazine Fantasy is gossamer in this tale of memory's role in bestowing dreams and inflicting nightmares. An impatient Fastidious is training Littlest to become a bestower of dreams. Hordes of Sinisteeds attempt to overcome the dreams by inflicting nightmares. Ethereal music introduces and concludes the story, wrapping the listener in a world in which dreams battle nightmares in an attempt to illuminate, inform, and even improve the "real" lives of the dreamers. Anne Twomey's comforting voice is perfect for this story, woven from threads of realism and imagination. Her voice creates an atmosphere in which the listener experiences the story, feeling the peacefulness of dreams, the despair of nightmares, and the growing bond that shared memories forge. N.E.M. (c) AudioFile 2006, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from March 6, 2006
    Lowry's (The Giver
    ) spellbinding story centers on a clever, curious young dream-giver. Littlest One is learning the nocturnal task performed by her kind, which entails gently touching objects belonging to a human, thereby gathering "memories, colors, words once spoken, hints of scents and the tiniest fragments of forgotten sound" and combining them to create dreams. The most challenging task she must master is to "bestow" the dream on a sleeping human. Under the tutelage of a caring, patient elder, Littlest begins to hone her skills in the home of a lonely 73-year-old woman who takes in John, an angry, unhappy foster child. Through Littlest's gathering process and John's resultant dreams, as well as through the dreams of John's estranged mother, Lowry poignantly reveals the boy's sad past. Some of the novel's most moving scenes center on the growing trust between John and his foster mother, as his bitterness and low self-esteem begin to abate. Littlest demonstrates her tenacity and talent when she successfully counters the curse of the four-legged Sinisteeds, renegade dream-givers who have been "consumed by the dark side" and who inflict powerful nightmares on their victims, including John. Lyrical, richly descriptive prose ushers readers into a fascinating parallel world inhabited by appealingly quirky characters. While she gathers fragments, Littlest demonstrates an unusually delicate touch that enables her to gain deeper insight—a gossamer touch that earns her the name in the title. With her exquisite, at times mesmerizing writing, Lowry displays a similar skill. Ages 10-up.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    July 24, 2006
    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.

  • School Library Journal

    October 1, 2006
    Gr 4-7 -A lonely old woman and John, a troubled boy, connect and gain renewed feelings of optimism and friendship in this lovely story by Lois Lowry (Walter Lorraine Books, 2006). The title character, initially named Littlest One, is a dream-giverone of the tiny creatures who bring good dreams to humans and animals. The inquisitive creature is first taught by Fastidious but drives the cranky teacher mad with her constant questions and humorous hijinks. Thin Elderly takes over Littlests training and they successfully concentrate on the old woman and the boy. By touching objects in the house that belong to each character, the dream-givers absorb happy memories associated with those items and bring these remembrances into the peoples dreams. The dream-givers polar opposites, the terrifying Sinisteeds, are after John, who is in foster care because of an abusive home life. It is up to Littlest to protect John from the potentially permanently damaging nightmares that he is given by the Sinisteeds. Anne Twomey is a superb narrator for this imaginative and dreamy story. She easily conveys the old womans patience and gradual understanding of what the boy has experienced in his unhappy life. Listeners can hear the gradual lessening of Johns anger in Twomeys voice. Her pacing is superb, and she has a wonderful ability to convey the lightness and yet gravely vital personalities of the dream-givers. An excellent recording of an intriguing novel.B. Allison Gray, John Jermain Memorial Library, Sag Harbor, NY

    Copyright 2006 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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

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    Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
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