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Product Description

Where do dreams come from? What stealthy nighttime messengers are the guardians of our most deeply hidden hopes and our half-forgotten fears? Drawing on her rich imagination, two-time Newbery winner Lois Lowry confronts these questions and explores the conflicts between the gentle bits and pieces of the past that come to life in dream, and the darker horrors that find their form in nightmare. In a haunting story that tiptoes between reality and imagination, two people—a lonely, sensitive woman and a damaged, angry boy—face their own histories and discover what they can be to one another, renewed by the strength that comes from a tiny, caring creature they will never see.

Gossamer is perfect for readers not quite ready for Lois Lowry''s Newbery-Award winner The Giver and also for readers interested in dreams, nightmares, spirits and the dream world.

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-7 Readers first meet the dream-givers as they creep around a dark house in the middle of the night where an old woman and a dog named Toby are sleeping. Littlest was very small, new to the work, energetic and curious. Fastidious was tired, impatient, and had a headache. Littlest is soon paired with a new partner, Thin Elderly, who is a much better guide and teacher than Fastidious was. They are benevolent beings who visit humans (and pets, too) at night. They handle objects, gather memories, and give them back in the form of happy dreams that comfort and help those they''re assigned to. The dream-givers'' counterparts are the strong and wicked Sinisteeds, who inflict nightmares and sometimes travel in frightening Hordes. And the humans that Littlest and Thin Elderly care for do need help and protection from bad dreams. The old woman is lonely and has taken in a foster child named John, who''s living apart from an abusive father and the fragile mother who desperately wants him back. 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 (her touch is so sensitive and delicate that she is renamed Gossamer). John, who starts his stay in the house with anger and violence, will draw a special kind of sympathy, too. Lowry acknowledges evil in the world, yet still conveys hope and large measures of tenderness. While not quite as compelling as The Giver (Houghton, 1993), this is a beautiful novel with an intriguing premise. Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 5-8. Littlest One is a delicate, invisible spirit who is in training to be a dream-giver, learning to blend fragments of happy memories with fragile details of daily life for people as they sleep. She helps a tormented foster child at night, bestowing healing memories in his dreams. He remembers a button, a broken seashell on a shelf, a book left open, images that fight the sinister Hordes that torment him with nightmares of his father''s vicious abuse. Lowry''s plain, poetic words speak directly to children about the powerful, ordinary things in everyday life, such as the boy''s memory of a baseball game ("the curved line of stitches on the ball and then the high thwacking sound of the hit"); the feel of his dog''s silky, warm fur; and the thump of the dog''s tail against the floor. Pair this fantasy with Valerie Worth''s All the Small Poems (1995) and with Katherine Paterson''s realistic novel, The Great Gilly Hopkins (1978), about an abused child in loving foster care. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

"The prose is light as gossamer; the story as haunting as a dream." —Kirkus Reviews, starred Kirkus Reviews, Starred

"Lyrical, richly descriptive prose ushers readers into a fascinating parallel world inhabited by appealingly quirky characters." -Publishers Weekly, starred Publishers Weekly, Starred

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

"Lowry succeeds again with this lyrical and compelling story about the importance of memory and the transforming power of love...The gentle blend of wit and pathos will enchant readers." VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

"...The novel effectively evokes the flimsy and sometimes tentative grasp on happiness and comfort...and the ways in which darkness can be combated through love." Bulletin of the Center for Children''s Books

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 has received countless honors, among them the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, the California Young Reader’s Medal, and the Mark Twain Award. She received Newbery Medals for two of her novels, Number the Stars and The Giver. Her first novel, A Summer to Die, was awarded the International Reading Association’s Children’s Book Award. Ms. Lowry lives in Maine.
www. 
Twitter @LoisLowryWriter

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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 very colorful 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 peer down at her own tiny behind.
“I do not have a tail,” she announced. “I think I am not a dog. We, I mean. We are not a kind of dog.” “There. You have answered your own question. Come more quickly, please. You are dawdling.” Reluctantly, Littlest scurried across the design of the carpet, beyond the moonlit rectangles, and onto the pine-boarded floor, which was always a little dangerous because of splinters.
“What if the dog woke? Would he see us? Or smell us, perhaps? I know he has a very significant nose. And if he did see us, or smell us, would that be dangerous for us?
“Or the woman? She woke the other night, remember? Because there was a bat in the house? It swooped and woke her somehow. She didn’t like the bat. She was quite brave, I remember, and opened a window so the bat flew out into the night, which was where he had wanted to be all along, doing his night food-finding.
“But what if our little footsteps and flutterings had woken her? Would she have seen us?
“Are we visible to her?
“I know we don’t fly the way bats do, but we operate at night. Mightt we be a type of bat?” Fastidious turned suddenly with a very annoyed gesture. “Enough! Hush! Stop that questioning! We have our work to do. You insisted on coming. You said you’d be quiet. My nerves are becoming frayed. I want no more questions now. None whatsoever.” “All right. I promise,” Littlest One said obedi- ently. They continued on, one following the other.
“Are you doing your assigned tasks?” “Yes. I touched the rug. And I’m touching this sweater now, the one she left on the chair.” “Gently. Do not under any circumstances press. But linger and get the feel of it into yourself.” “Yes, I am. You showed me how.” Littlest was running her tiny fingers carefully over the sweater’s soft sleeve. Then she touched a button and let her hand linger on it. It was startling, what she felt during the lingering. The entire history of the button came to her, and all it had been part of: a breezy picnic on a hillside in summer long ago; a January night, more recently, by the fire; and even, once, the time that a cup of tea had been spilled on the sweater. It was all there, still.
They moved quietly around the room, touching things. Fastidious half fluttered, half climbed to a tabletop and methodically touched framed photographs. Littlest watched in the moonlight and saw how the fingers chose and touched and felt the faces gazing out from the photographs: a man in uniform; a baby, grinning; an elderly woman with a stern look. Forgetting her promise of no questions, Littlest suddenly asked, “Might we be human?” But Fastidious did not reply.

Gossamer by Lois Lowry. Copyright (c) 2006 by Lois Lowry. Reprinted with permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

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4.7 out of 54.7 out of 5
341 global ratings

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Top reviews from the United States

SB
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Love it so much!
Reviewed in the United States on July 6, 2021
I enjoyed this book very much. Although it’s a short read, it is full of delightful details about the world of dream-givers, their role in people’s lives, and their method of giving dreams. Littlest One is fun, inquisitive, and brave. Her curiosity and confidence pushed her... See more
I enjoyed this book very much. Although it’s a short read, it is full of delightful details about the world of dream-givers, their role in people’s lives, and their method of giving dreams. Littlest One is fun, inquisitive, and brave. Her curiosity and confidence pushed her to go beyond what she was asked for even though she’s a neophyte. Her traits make her likable.

The story is narrated using different perspectives in a continuous flow that is easy to follow, revealing the themes of finding hope, conquering the unknown, and acceptance, which balance out the heaviness of another theme of the story-- domestic abuse.

Lois Lowry is really good at creating a unique world and characters.
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Reading is my ESCAPE from Reality!
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great story about dreams and nightmares.
Reviewed in the United States on March 2, 2015
I enjoyed this story. It was different from what I tend to read. Lois Lowry is a great author and after reading the Giver quartet, I decided to try some of her other books. I found this book in my elementary school library. However, it does have some dark themes and may be... See more
I enjoyed this story. It was different from what I tend to read. Lois Lowry is a great author and after reading the Giver quartet, I decided to try some of her other books. I found this book in my elementary school library. However, it does have some dark themes and may be best suited to 5th through 8th graders. The Sinisteeeds are scary and sometimes travel in hordes, bringing nightmares. The young boy in this story has suffered from child abuse and is very angry. The old woman is taking care of him temporarily while his mom tries to get her life together. The boy''s thoughts are described and include some nasty thoughts about the dog. Made me nervous for a bit because I am really sensitive to animals suffering. But thoughts are not actions. The descriptions of the child abuse are scary and sad as well.

The book had a dream-like quality about it. The story does has a positive ending and I ending up liking and sympathizing with most of the characters.

Recommended to:
5th - 8th graders and above. Anyone who enjoys Lois Lowry and stories about fantasy and dreams.
3 people found this helpful
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Chanjin
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Lois Lowry: if you are ever in Washington, I will buy you coffee.
Reviewed in the United States on August 21, 2015
Oh, my word. This author always captivates me. Louis Lowry captures human emotion and reaction far better in her writing, than any other author I have come across yet. I loved the Giver Quartet, but this book trumps it for me, by far. This story has all the romance and... See more
Oh, my word. This author always captivates me. Louis Lowry captures human emotion and reaction far better in her writing, than any other author I have come across yet. I loved the Giver Quartet, but this book trumps it for me, by far. This story has all the romance and whimsy of the Giver, while opening the mind to all that can bring it strength. The memories that people store in the smallest of places, and how those memories effect themselves, and others. I first read this in digital format, and have now purchased a hard copy of it. I will purchase more, to abandon, randomly, for some stranger to find, and have THEIR day made by the discovery of a wonderful new book.
2 people found this helpful
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lord_derpington
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Should be interesting to fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
Reviewed in the United States on May 16, 2013
I bought this as a fan of My Little Pony, having heard that Queen Chrysalis was based off Lowry''s Sinisteeds, the horse-like creatures in this book that feed on emotion. If that''s the case, Chrysalis was more an inspired invention than a derivative character, as the... See more
I bought this as a fan of My Little Pony, having heard that Queen Chrysalis was based off Lowry''s Sinisteeds, the horse-like creatures in this book that feed on emotion. If that''s the case, Chrysalis was more an inspired invention than a derivative character, as the Sinisteeds had no authority figure, no leader (though I can easily see the parallels between the Sinisteeds and the changeling swarm).

The book was a quick read, and surprised me with its dark content. Abuse and neglect are central to the story, although those subjects are approached obliquely, told to the reader through the lies and actions of the abused child. This understated part of the story was actually more interesting to me than the main character''s coming-of-age story (though, of course, they are intertwined).

I feel that I must not understand the title character Gossamer. There was an emphasis on her "light touch", her ability to delicately touch upon others and their memories, the ability she uses to help heal the abused boy. Keep that touch light, she''s warned, or you will be sucked in too far and may become a Sinisteed yourself. What message was that meant to deliver? Don''t get too close to others? You can only help when you''re detached? And what about the boy himself? How much of his ability to confront his problems and move forward is supposed to be attributed to him, and how much to Gossamer''s work? I feel that the boy''s inner strength was devalued for the sake of giving Gossamer something to do, and I wasn''t able to pick up on the meaning of the limits imposed on her ability to help.
2 people found this helpful
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Don D. Bouchard
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
An insightful foray into the subconscious
Reviewed in the United States on May 24, 2018
Give stars because Lowry is one of few writers who changes her topics, her approaches, and stays delightfully on top of her writing. In comparing this little gem with Winter girls and The Giver and Number the Stars, we are that Lowry can conquer any subject she sets out to... See more
Give stars because Lowry is one of few writers who changes her topics, her approaches, and stays delightfully on top of her writing. In comparing this little gem with Winter girls and The Giver and Number the Stars, we are that Lowry can conquer any subject she sets out to write. Loved this one and the hope embedded therein.
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devotedmomof7
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The Gossamer Touch
Reviewed in the United States on September 20, 2007
Lowry grabs your attention immediately with one of the most precious story characters of all time, Littlest. This tiny one is a dream-giver in training who has the most gentle of touches - a gossamer touch - when she gathers memory information from the objects of her... See more
Lowry grabs your attention immediately with one of the most precious story characters of all time, Littlest. This tiny one is a dream-giver in training who has the most gentle of touches - a gossamer touch - when she gathers memory information from the objects of her assigned human. The memories are mixed together to form dreams that are bestowed upon the human, bringing happiness and strength. Littlest and her faithful trainer, Thin Elderly, become especially concerned about an elderly woman and her new foster son who has faced terrible abuse. The dialogue from this wounded boy is so poignant and heart-wrenching. He has only a few good memory objects to choose from and the sinisteeds (nightmare givers) are descending upon him nightly. The boy''s mother has a dream-giver, too, aiding her as she seeks to retake control of her life in a positive way in order to get her son back. The dream-givers sense the presence of an evil horde of sinisteeds preparing a group attack.

Personally, I think every child would benefit from reading this compassionate glimpse into the struggle of a single-mom, the inward pain of a foster child, and the loneliness of the elderly.

Captivating!
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Teri Carter
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Gently thought provoking
Reviewed in the United States on October 6, 2012
This story is very clever, charming and thought provoking. Where DO our dreams come from? What gentle nudges stir our imaginations while our bodies rest. As far as that goes,why do nightmares intrude and wake us shaken and unsettled. I loved the sub-plot of the young boy... See more
This story is very clever, charming and thought provoking. Where DO our dreams come from? What gentle nudges stir our imaginations while our bodies rest. As far as that goes,why do nightmares intrude and wake us shaken and unsettled. I loved the sub-plot of the young boy troubled by life''s unfairness; yet those around him who care and are working to make his world happy again. It is a wonderful book that expresses how precious our own wonderful uniqueness can make a difference. I enjoyed this book myself, but wouldn''t hesitate to read it to my very young nieces and nephews.
One person found this helpful
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Canital
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great!
Reviewed in the United States on July 1, 2014
I think this story is original and really beautiful. It discusses the topic of child abuse through dreaming and nightmares but in a child friendly way. I like the way the child in foster care''s behaviour is described, as well as his foster parent. This is an excellent story... See more
I think this story is original and really beautiful. It discusses the topic of child abuse through dreaming and nightmares but in a child friendly way. I like the way the child in foster care''s behaviour is described, as well as his foster parent. This is an excellent story for reluctant readers because some of them may be in this situation and feel compelled to read to the end to see what happens. It may be a sort of "self-help" book for some children to be able to find a new perspective to cope with being in foster care and/or abuse.
One person found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

Andromeda
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Fabulous
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 27, 2014
My 8 year old daughter loves this book which is a fantastic story. It really sparked her creativity and she spoke about the characters and the story''s evolution all the time while reading it and immediately after. It was the first book by Lowry that she read and she has...See more
My 8 year old daughter loves this book which is a fantastic story. It really sparked her creativity and she spoke about the characters and the story''s evolution all the time while reading it and immediately after. It was the first book by Lowry that she read and she has since gone on to read the Giver trilogy which she also enjoyed, however Gossamer remains her favourite.
My 8 year old daughter loves this book which is a fantastic story. It really sparked her creativity and she spoke about the characters and the story''s evolution all the time while reading it and immediately after. It was the first book by Lowry that she read and she has since gone on to read the Giver trilogy which she also enjoyed, however Gossamer remains her favourite.
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Momma B.
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Perfect book for kids and adults!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 8, 2018
Great book by my favourite author!! Now shared it with my daughters who love it as well!
Great book by my favourite author!! Now shared it with my daughters who love it as well!
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Steve Meschino
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
wow
Reviewed in Canada on April 1, 2015
Amazing, this book really transports you to another world, a world filled with imagination and sadness at the end .
Amazing, this book really transports you to another world, a world filled with imagination and sadness at the end .
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M. Pascal Groussin
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
sympa
Reviewed in France on February 24, 2015
plutôt réservé aux enfants, contrairement à la tétralogie du Messager qui m''avait ravi. Mais ça reste une belle histoire inventive.
plutôt réservé aux enfants, contrairement à la tétralogie du Messager qui m''avait ravi. Mais ça reste une belle histoire inventive.
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jerico
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
物は思いを伝える
Reviewed in Japan on September 4, 2014
美しいものは美しい思い出を、 ガラクタは、辛い思い出、ガラクタな思い出を宿している。 あ、片づけなくちゃ。 この本を読んで、物を大事にしよう、部屋を片付けようという思いを強くしました。 LOIS LOWRYさんの本はやさしくて、 犬がいい感じに描かれていて好きです。 多読にも最適です。
美しいものは美しい思い出を、
ガラクタは、辛い思い出、ガラクタな思い出を宿している。

あ、片づけなくちゃ。

この本を読んで、物を大事にしよう、部屋を片付けようという思いを強くしました。

LOIS LOWRYさんの本はやさしくて、
犬がいい感じに描かれていて好きです。
多読にも最適です。
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