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Monday, March 27, 2006

Avi

Finding appropriate literature for young people is no easy task--and it isn't because there is any lack of options. Young adult literature today is in extremely robust condition. There are tons of authors out there who are sensitive to the desires, needs, and interests of young people. They are authors who recognize that the "young adult" novel is not a generic, monolithic one, but one filled with readers of highly diverse interests.

One of this generation's giants of young adult literature is definitely Avi, a prolific author who came from a family of artists.

My first encounter with Avi was the book, Bright Shadow, a book that left me wondering why Avi was so popular and renowned. I thought it a rather mediocre tale filled with such ambiguous meanings that it ended up saying nothing at all. For many months, I backed away from other Avi titles.

Then I was told that I should read The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. Now there is a truly incredible read and it was easy to see why it was an award-winning novel. It was refreshing, it had a strong protagonist, and was a rollicking sea adventure. It's easily a book I would recommend to a wide array of young readers (and adults as well--why should the kids have all the fun?).

After that, I came across Crispin: Cross of Lead--a winner of the 2003 Newbery award. While I didn't like it as much as True Confessions, it was again a highly enjoyable book that gave you something to think about when you were done with it.

Avi is an author who, at least with the latter two books, is able to meet the challenge of having a book mean something without devolving into a condescending sermon aimed at readers who are often picking up a book to escape from their lessons.

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