On the Horizon by Lois Lowry

by Hope Hanson
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Lois Lowry looks back at history through a personal lens as she draws from her own memories as a child in Hawaii and Japan, as well as from historical research, in this stunning work in verse for young readers.

On the Horizon tells the story of people whose lives were lost or forever altered by the twin tragedies of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. Based on the lives of soldiers at Pearl Harbor and civilians in Hiroshima, On the Horizon contemplates humanity and war through verse that sings with pain, truth, and the importance of bridging cultural divides. This masterful work emphasizes empathy and understanding in search of commonality and friendship, vital lessons for students as well as citizens of today’s world. Kenard Pak’s stunning illustrations depict real-life people, places, and events, making for an incredibly vivid return to our collective past.

In turns haunting, heartbreaking, and uplifting, On the Horizon will remind readers of the horrors and heroism in our past, as well as offer hope for our future.

–from the publisher’s description of On the Horizon
Rating: 5/5

As much as I enjoy certain kinds of poetry (namely, things along the lines of The Odyssey or The Divine Comedy), modern poetry isn’t my preference. And, admittedly, I can be obstinate when it comes to giving it a chance. But when I saw that Lois Lowry had come out with a book of poetry this year? Especially one that was based in history? Well, I figured it was as good a chance as any to attempt reading something outside of my usual comfort zone. 

And I’m glad I did!


Lowry’s writing, which is always superb, was truly masterful in On the Horizon. Her ability to paint such vivid images and scenes with her words is just incredible. Every story told in this book was moving and just so very real. And the beautiful illustrations from Kenard Pak supplemented that wonderfully. They truly made the overall experience of reading this that much more impactful. 

The genuine, personal stories from the tragic events at Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima delivered a potent emotional punch. And the bits of Lowry’s own memories and experiences were beautifully woven in with those stories. Together, they served to deliver a powerful reflection on a number of different but equally important topics. Everything from war and tragedy to compassion to culture was touched upon.

TL,DR Recommendation

All in all, this was an excellent book. It’s incredibly well-written, and with such thought-provoking messages and themes. It doesn’t matter whether you like poetry or not, or whether you like history or not… I don’t think anyone would regret taking the time to give On the Horizon a try. And I would definitely recommend doing so. 

Find and get a copy through the publisher’s site here!

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