Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Spotlight On... Avi

--by Hanje Richards

Edward Irving Wortis (born December 23, 1937), better known by the pen name Avi, is an American author of young adult and children's literature. He is a winner of both the Newbery Honor and Newbery Medal.

Avi and his twin sister, Emily Wortis Leider (also a writer), were born in New York City to Joseph Wortis, a psychiatrist, and Helen Wortis, a social worker. In the year after Avi's birth, his family moved to Brooklyn. When he was young, his sister gave him the nickname "Avi." Two of Avi's grandfathers were writers, and one grandmother was a playwright. In interviews, he recalled his mother reading to him and his sister every night and going to the public library on Fridays.

Avi has written more than 70 books. He has written books for different age groups and in many different genres, including historical fiction, fantasies, comedies, mysteries, ghost stories, adventure tales, realistic fiction, and picture books.

Blue Heron - As Maggie approaches her thirteenth birthday, she wants to believe that some kind of magic can stop the changes all around her. Her visit with her father and his new family at a lakeside cabin makes her wonder. Will he still love her as much, now that he has a new family, or will he love her baby half-sister more? Her father seems troubled and withdrawn and, while he insists nothing is wrong, she worries.

Alone with her own secret thoughts, Maggie finds comfort in the beautiful blue heron she visits at the lake every morning. With each visit, she grows more attached to the bird, and she becomes aware that someone else is watching, too – someone who's putting the bird in great danger. Through her determination to protect the bird, Maggie begins to understand the magic of change in her own life, and in the constantly changing world around her.[YA fiction]

The Book Without Words: A Fable of Medieval Magic - In the ancient Northumbrian town of Fulwich, there is an old man nobody knows. This man, Thorston by name, has lived a secret life so that he may stay alive – forever. Call him an alchemist, but his possession of The Book Without Words contains the secret of immortality. But to make this secret a reality, he must sacrifice his minion, Odo, a coal-black raven, and Sybil, his thirteen-year-old servant. Just as Thorston is on the brink of immortality, Sybil decides she wants to live her own life, and Odo wants the gold he believes Thorston as made. Who, then, will live, and who will die? And who will get the gold? [YA fiction]

Crispin: The Cross of Lead - Set in 14th-century England, this book begins with the funeral of a woman – a village outcast whose past is shrouded in mystery and whose adolescent son is known only as "Asta's son." Mired in grief for his mother, the boy learns his given name, Crispin, from the village priest, although his presumably dead father's identity remains obscure. The words etched on his mother's treasured lead cross may provide some clue, but the priest is murdered before he can tell the illiterate lad what they say. Worse, Crispin is fingered for the murder by the manor steward, who declares him a "wolf's head" – wanted dead or alive… preferably dead. Crispin flees and falls in with a traveling juggler. "I have no name," Crispin tells Bear, whose rough manners and appearance mask a tender heart. "No home, no kin, no place in this world." How the boy learns his true identity and finds his place in the world makes for a rattling fine yarn. [Juvenile fiction]

The History of Helpless Harry: To Which is Added a Variety of Amusing and Entertaining Adventures - Harry is far from helpless, despite what his parents think. When they leave for a few days, it is up to Harry to protect the family fortune from the evil town constable, a slick con man, his guardian Miss Trowbridge, and her strange visitor. Harry's skewed sense of judgment leads to many near-disasters and hilarious moments in this 19th century illustrated farce. [Juvenile fiction]

Man From The Sky - In an almost foolproof scheme, a man parachutes from an airplane with a large amount of money, only to be seen by a boy who has a reputation for seeing things in the clouds. [Juvenile fiction]



Midnight Magic - Mangus the Magician must free a princess from a terrifying ghost. Naturally, Mangus doesn't believe in ghosts. He doesn't even believe in magic! However, his servant boy, Fabrizio, is a secret friend of the princess and is determined to prove the ghost is real. [Juvenile fiction]

Poppy - Mr. Ocax is a Great Horned Owl who rules the mice who live around Dimwood Forest, preying on their fears by promising protection from the dreaded porcupine in exchange for unconditional obedience. Poppy returns home, where she learns that a delegation must go to request permission from Mr. Ocax to relocate half of the mouse family, as they have outgrown their present quarters. When he refuses, Poppy decides to undertake the scouting journey to the proposed new home anyway, encountering along the way an irreverent porcupine who explains that he and his ilk are no threat to mice. [Juvenile fiction]

Poppy and Ereth - Poppy, a deer mouse, and Ereth, a grumbling porcupine, have been the best of friends for as long as the animals of Dimwood Forest can remember. An unstoppable pair ever since they defeated the tyrannical owl, Mr. Ocax, Poppy and Ereth have enjoyed many happy adventures together. But, when a swirl of bitter winter storms buries Dimwood Forest in snow and Poppy's husband, Rye, dies suddenly, all Poppy wants is some privacy. "Dancing doorknobs," Ereth mutters to no one in particular, "how can she not want to see me?" As he waddles back to his log, Ereth fears he may have lost his dear friend forever. [Juvenile fiction audio book]

Poppy and Rye - Heartbroken over the death of her fiance, Ragweed, Poppy, a deer mouse, journeys west through the vast Dimwood Forest to bring the sad news to Ragweed's family. But, Poppy and her prickly porcupine pal, Ereth, arrive only to discover that beavers have flooded the serene valley where Ragweed lived. Together, Poppy and Ragweed's brother, Rye, brave kidnapping, imprisonment, and a daring rescue to fight the beavers. At the same time, Rye – who has lived in Ragweed's shadow – fights to prove himself worthy of Poppy's love. [Juvenile fiction]

The Seer of Shadows - The time is 1872. The place is New York City. Horace Carpetine has been raised to believe in science and rationality. So, as apprentice to Enoch Middleditch, a society photographer, he thinks of his trade as a scientific art. But, when wealthy society matron Mrs. Frederick Von Macht orders a photographic portrait, strange things begin to happen. [YA fiction]



True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle - The brig Seahawk looms against a darkening sky, black and sinister. Manned by an angry, motley crew at the mercy of a ruthless captain, the rat-infested ship reeks of squalor, despair... and mutiny! It is no place for the lone passenger, thirteen-year-old Charlotte Doyle; yet, for her, there is no turning back. At first a trapped and powerless young girl, Charlotte dares to become the center of a daring and deadly voyage that will challenge her courage, her loyalties, and her very will to survive! [YA fiction]