On the Horizon

On the Horizon


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From two-time Newbery medalist and living legend Lois Lowry comes a moving account of the lives lost in two of WWII’s most infamous events: Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. With evocative black-and-white illustrations by SCBWI Golden Kite Award winner Kenard Pak.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780358129400
Publisher: HMH Books
Publication date: 04/07/2020
Pages: 80
Sales rank: 38,585
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.40(d)
Lexile: HL580L (what's this?)
Age Range: 10 - 12 Years

About the Author

Lois Lowry is the author of more than forty books for children and young adults, including the New York Times bestselling Giver Quartet and popular Anastasia Krupnik series. She received Newbery Medals for two of her novels, Number the Stars and The Giver. Ms. Lowry lives in Maine. Visit her at www.loislowry.com and on Twitter @LoisLowryWriter
Ken Pak is the illustrator of many picture books including Cat Wishes and Flowers Are Calling. After studying at Syracuse University and California Institute of the Arts, he worked at Dreamworks Animation and Walt Disney Feature Animation. Visit him at pandagun.com and on Twitter and Instagram @kenardpak.

Read an Excerpt

That Morning

      They had named the battleships for states:

      West Virginia

      They called them “she”
      as if they were women
      (gray metal women),
      and they were all there that morning
      in what they called Battleship Row.

      Their places
      (the places of the gray metal women)
      were called berths.

      Arizona was at berth F-7.
      On either side, her nurturing sisters:
      and Tennessee.

      The sisters, wounded, survived.
      But Arizona, her massive body sheared,
      slipped down. She disappeared.


      It was an island of rainbows.
      My mother said that color arced across the sky
      on the spring day when I was born.

      On the island of rainbows,
      my bare feet slipping in sand,
      I learned to walk.

      And to talk:
      My Hawaiian nursemaid
      taught me her words, with their soft vowels:
      the name of a little fish!
      It made me laugh, to say it.
      We laughed together.

      Ānuenue meant “rainbow.”
      Were there rainbows that morning?
      I suppose there must have been:
      bright colors, as the planes came in.


      My grandmother visited.
      She had come by train across the broad land
      from her home in Wisconsin, and then by ship.
      We met her and heaped wreaths
      of plumeria around her neck.
      “Aloha,” we said to her.
      Welcome. Hello.

      I called her Nonny.
      She took me down by the ocean.
      The sea moved in a blue-green rhythm, soft against the sand.
      We played there, she and I, with a small shovel,
      and laughed when the breeze caught my bonnet
      and lifted it from my blond hair.

      We played and giggled: calm, serene.
      And there behind us—slow, unseen—
      Arizona, great gray tomb,
      moved, majestic, toward her doom.

She Was There

      We never saw the ship.
      But she was there.

      She was moving slowly
      on the horizon, shrouded in the mist
      that separated skies from seas
      while we laughed, unknowing, in the breeze.

      She carried more than
      twelve hundred men
      on deck, or working down below.
      We didn’t look up. We didn’t know.

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