On the Horizon written by Lois Lowry, illustrated by Kenard Pak, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers.
Deceptively simple language evokes great emotion throughout this masterwork. Lowry deftly depicts a childlike sense of experiencing the war and provides a tender treatment of the postwar time period in Tokyo, as well as its transition into our contemporary world.
World War II provides the background for this book of poems, inspired by the author’s own childhood on Hawaii beaches and later, in Japan. Told in spare, compact verses, the horrors of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the atomic bomb in Hiroshima are explored side by side through a lens of people, names, and day to day objects like bicycles, watches, and dolls. War is a tangled business, and this book succeeds in helping the reader grapple with those complexities.
This novel-in-verse is both historical memoir and poetic fiction, relaying accounts of World War II from both sides of the horizon. In subtle and beautiful poems that explore the bombing of Pearl Harbor as well as the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, Lowry builds a house of empathy and understanding we all could live in, even in the midst of so much trouble. Lowry’s delicate investigation of memory and history and the horrors of human self-destruction convey both sides of a complicated issue. Ultimately, this gem of a book transports us into the realities of war, violence, and the mass destruction they bring.
Truth is stranger than fiction. Lowry's historical WWII verse novel is infused with memoir and recurring coincidences, like matching stopped watches, children's bicycles, and a childhood connection between two children's literature geniuses. The many poetic forms are used to good effect and are appropriate for the young audience and will build empathy and understanding with readers of all ages.