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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.

ISBN-13: 9780358129400

Media Type: Hardcover

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Publication Date: 04-07-2020

Pages: 80

Product Dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.40(d)

Age Range: 10 - 12 Years

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. Ken Pak grew up in Baltimore and Howard County, Maryland. After studying at Syracuse University and California Institute of the Arts, he worked at Dreamworks Animation and Walt Disney Feature Animation. Visit his website at 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.