By Margaret Speaker-Yuan, Kyle Zimmer
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He abandoned writing for adults to concentrate all his efforts on children’s books. With his first books, he tended to write at the current reading level of his own sons, picture books when they were little and easy chapter books when they learned to read independently. FATHER, LIBRARIAN, TEACHER, AND WRITER Before the publication of Things That Sometimes Happen, Avi’s agent asked him what name he wanted on the book’s cover. “That’s an odd question to ask,” wrote Avi. “It was never an issue, but I thought about it and I said, ‘Oh well, just put Avi down,’ and that was the decision.
He researched the settings and historical periods of his books with close attention to details about customs, local information, and patterns of speech. For Beyond the Western Sea, he paraphrased actual speeches that had been given at the time, and read rulebooks for workers. 40 For another book, Don’t You Know There’s A War On? Avi researched World War II, even though he had lived through it. He read The New York Times and learned details of the war that he had not realized at the time. Reading the newspaper also jogged his memory about coupon books, ration cards, and life in World War II.
I remember that book in particular because it was the first time I ever stayed up all night reading a book. ” 12 Despite his love of reading, writing continued to be a problem. “Not performing up to his potential” was a frequent criticism made about Avi’s schoolwork. Teachers did not understand how a child who read as much as Avi did, and who had a vivid imagination, could not produce paragraphs that were written correctly. Instead of looking for what he had to say, they looked only at the mechanics of his writing.
Avi by Margaret Speaker-Yuan, Kyle Zimmer