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Like the Willow Tree

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Like the Willow Tree
Book information
Author Lois Lowry
Original title
Series Dear America
Publishers Scholastic
Publication date January 1, 2011[1]
Pages 224
ISBN 9780545144698
Book in series 38
Preceded by The Fences Between Us
Followed by Cannons at Dawn
Relaunch order
Publication date
Book in series 6
Preceded by A Picture of Freedom
Followed by A Light in the Storm
"I have not written for eight days. What could I write? Father is dead. Mother is dead. My baby sister, Lucy, is dead. Daniel and I are alive, but Daniel hates the entire world and will not speak, not to me or to anyone."
Lydia Pierce[2]

Like the Willow Tree: The Diary of Lydia Amelia Pierce is the second new book in the Dear America relaunch. The book was written by Newbery award winning author, Lois Lowry and published in January 2011. It was followed by a new edition of A Light in the Storm in March 2011.

The book follows Lydia Pierce during 1918 flu pandemic as she adjusts to a new life in a Shaker village.

Book descriptionEdit

"My name is Lydia. This is my story....
In 1918, as the Great War rages in Europe, the Spanish influenza tears a brutal path across the United States, leaving devastation in its wake, Suddenly, eleven-year-old Lydia Pierce and her older brother, Daniel, find themselves orphans of the flu, and are taken by their grieving uncle to be raised in the Shaker community at Sabbathday Lake. Thrust into the Shakers' unfamiliar way of life, Lydia, a fiercely independent girl, must grapple with a new world that is nothing like the one she used to know. Lydia must work hard, and all the while she worries about her headstrong brother, who has run away. In time, and with courageous spirit, Lydia learns o find the joy in living with the Shakers—yet she cannot stop wondering, will Daniel ever return?


Lydia Pierce, an eleven-year-old girl, lives with her parents, Caroline and Walter, and siblings, Daniel and Lucy in Portland, Maine in 1918. One day, her parents and younger sister become victims of the flu pandemic. Lydia and Daniel, now orphans, go to live with their uncle Henry, aunt Sarah, and six cousins. Unable to take care of two more children, Henry takes them to live with the Shakers in Sabbathday Lake.

Sister Jennie, the caretaker of the younger girls, takes Lydia to where she will be staying and introduces her to Grace, Rebecca, and Polly, whom she will be sharing a room with. At first, Lydia has a hard time grasping the Shakers customs, which also prohibit her from interacting with Daniel. However, she quickly learns new skills, when she starts to work in the laundry room. Lydia grows accustomed to her new life within a short period of time, unlike Daniel, who during a supervised visit warns her that he is planning on leaving.

Daniel runs away in early November, making Lydia's worse fears come true. She continues to worry through much of December, until she figures out a way to learn of his whereabouts. When school starts again, Lydia seeks out Gloria, the sister of Daniel's friend, and inquires her about Daniel. A few days later, Gloria comes back with news that Daniel is currently living nearby in Oxford Hills.

Over the next few months, Lydia learns more about the Shaker faith and the important members of the community as well as the many things they make to raise money. Her worry over Daniel increases as she gets little news of him, however he returns sometime during a blizzard in April, much to Lydia's joy. Now with Daniel back, she realizes how much she loves her new family and a feeling of peace. In the epilogue, the narrator recounts the later lives of Lydia and Daniel.


Main article: List of Like the Willow Tree characters
  • Lydia Amelia Pierce, an eleven-year-old orphaned by the 1918 flu pandemic. She goes to live with her uncle, before being taken to the live with the Shakers in 'Chosen Land'.
  • Daniel Pierce is the sullen teenage brother of Lydia. Already withdrawn and disrespectful, Daniel only gets worse when he moves in with his uncle and later the Shakers.
  • Sister Jennie Mathers, the kind caretaker of the young girls at Sabbathday Lake. She helps Lydia adjust to the Shakers customs and beliefs.


Main article: Lois Lowry

Lois Lowry (born Lois Ann Hammersberg; March 20, 1937 in Honolulu, Hawaii, United States) is the author of over thirty children's books. She is best known for Number the Stars (1989) and The Giver (1994) as well as the Anastasia Krupnik series (1979-1995). In 2011, Lowry wrote Like the WIllow Tree for the Dear America line.

Lowry owns a house in southwest Maine near the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village, which gave her the idea to write about them when Scholastic approached about doing a book for the series. In order to create an orphan character, Lowry set the book during the 1918 flu pandemic. She spent a lot time at the village during the summer 2009 researching, including reading the Shakers journals from 1918. Lowry incorporated real events and people from the journals into the novel.


"With thanks to Leonard L. Brooks, director of the Shaker Library and Museum at Sabbathday Lake; to Tina Agren, the librarian/archivist; and to Brother Arnold Hadd, who patiently and generously answered questions that he has probably answered a hundred times before."


External linksEdit

See alsoEdit

Template:Dear America relaunch

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