Lois Lowry’s Favorite Place

Mackworth Island State Park,

Photograph by Sarah Beard Buckley

Mackworth Island State Park, Falmouth

Lois Lowry

Home
Falmouth in winter, Bridgton in summer

Came to Maine
1963 (though she decamped to Massachusetts for a couple of decades)

Awards
Two Newbery Medals, the Mark Twain Award, honorary degree from Brown University, a whole bunch of others

Copies sold of The Giver
More than 12 million

Lois Lowry, who turns 81 this month, has written more than 40 books for children and young adults, including Newbery Medal winners Number the Stars and The Giver. This month sees publication of a new edition of Find a Stranger, Say Goodbye, Lowry’s second book, first published in 1978. Set partially in Maine, the story follows an adopted teen seeking her birth mother, and the settings draw from reporting trips Lowry made as a contributor to a plucky little magazine called Down East.

“I went up to Patten for a story about medical care where there are no doctors,” Lowry remembers. “Now, it’s probably a thriving place, but then, it was nowhere. There were no hotels, and I stayed in a kind of rooming house, so the girl in the book does too.” Simmons’ Mills, as Lowry renamed Patten, was nestled “deep in the rugged, mountainous awesome terrain of central Maine,” where it “spread like a blemish beside the gray river and the vast deep green of woods.”

These days, Lowry enjoys mountainous awesome terrain near her summer place in Bridgton. But in the winter, her home is in Falmouth, and her connection to nature is on 100-acre Mackworth Island State Park, linked to the town by a causeway. She walks her 12-year-old Tibetan terrier, Alfie, on the wooded perimeter trail there, pausing at the island’s benches and lookouts to take in the frosted scatter of the Casco Bay islands.

“It’s a very photogenic spot,” she says. “I’m old and my dog is old, so it’s an easy place to take a nice walk.”

Bred for the Himalayas, Tibetan terriers have wide paws that help Alfie traverse the snow. But he isn’t immune to the scourge of small, long-haired dogs on Maine winter trails. “Ice balls!” Lowry exclaims. “Thankfully, they melt.”


Brian Kevin

Brian Kevin is Down East's managing editor.