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Avi

father, writer, impaired
by

David O

on 1 June 2013

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Transcript of Avi

The Life, Work, and Journey Avi A young boy and girl stared up at their exhausted mother, cloaked with the scent of a newborn still lingering on their heads. Young Edward Wortis was given a family nickname, Avi, by his twin sister when they were no less than a year of age. Avi's sister, Emily, would soon be among the first children to receive open heart surgery as a result of her chronic heart condition that caused her to become short of breath and suffer other painstaking difficulties. Anyway, the name, Avi, simply seemed to stick within the Jewish immigrant's home... A name that would later permeate throughout the fabled geniuses of children's literature. Edward was born on December 23, 1937 and grew up as the son of Joseph and Helen Wortis, a psychiatrist and a social worker. Naturally, their busy, bustling home was breaking at the seams with books and novels, for reading was encouraged within the Brooklyn household. Even so, when sitting around their living room listening to the radio, Avi's mind was being inspired to write one of his novels, "The Lone Ranger", which was based off of his favorite radio broadcast show. Edward, who loved reading and playing "games of imagination", was often overshadowed by his older brother who graduated high school when he was 15 and even his twin sister, who was as equally bright. After finally graduating high school, Edward Irving Wortis needed a field of work in the bustling metropolitan city of New york and became a librarian due to his vast love of reading. Afterwords, Avi studied history, drama, and theater in order to become a playwright at the University of Madison in Wisconsin. He succeeded this goal before moving to San Francisco in order to practice this profession. After a while, both his audience and himself agreed that the job did not suit him, but it began one of the most profound writing legacies in children's literature throughout time. In fact, many of Avi's novels are said to contain vast amounts of dialogue, which may be a result of this occupation's lasting on him. Edward once again became a librarian at the New York Public Library to meet his penniless financial needs. In order to insure his occupation, Avi later graduated Colombia University with a degree in Library Science and resumed his job, only this time as a humanities librarian at Trenton State College. The young librarian soon met Joan Gabriner, a weaver, and shortly afterwords fell in love with her, just like Avi's fans swoon over his many extravagant novels. The couple married shortly after and had two children named Shaun and Kevin Wortis. Chapter III Eventually, after having his two sons, Edward divorced Joan Gabriner in November of 1963 and married Coppelia Kahn, an English professor. Her child, Gabriel, would follow his stepfather's footsteps in becoming a journalist. Avi's other two sons, Shaun and Kevin, became actively involved within the "rock music world" and became a musician and a manager within the musical genre. Edward now is 75 years old and lives with his family in Colorado, and as he quotes, Chapter VI After writing even his first books, Avi began to be recognized for his superlative work, starting with "Snail Tale", which was given the award for best book by the British Book Council in 1973. "Snail Tail", the adventures of a rather small snail, was only one of the first and smallest accomplishments he would soon make. After Avi continued to write mind-riveting stories and was commonly awarded with several Newberry Honor awards for books like "Nothing But the Truth" and "The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle", he had been honored with a Boston Globe-Horn Book award for, not only, "Nothing But the Truth" and "The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle", but also for his novel, "Poppy". Otherwise, Avi won the Scott O'Dell award for his book, "The Fighting Ground". Finally, in 2003, Edward, who now overshadowed his siblings, received the Newberry Award for "Crispin: The Cross of Lead", a book about a boy who must find his place within a corrupted, medieval England. Within this novel, one can simply notice how the main character, Crispin, is able to relate to Avi when they both rise above criticism and acknowledge their flaws, causing both of them to succeed, whether their success is in their status, talent, or in the form of an award-a symbol that showed Avi he was finally being acknowledged for his hard, strenuous life. Chapter VII Edward still continues to write while practicing photography, his favorite hobby; he also still continues to draw...only now greeting cards for fun as he continues to live with his family in Colorado. Throughout the expansive, complicated life that formed a roller coaster of both triumph and failure in the dyslexic man's history, Avi has been transformed into an international phenomenon with the help of his strongest talent that encouraged him through his troubled days: his expanded, passionate reading and writing. Epilogue Chapter I As a young boy, Avi faced multiple hardships and struggles he encountered before successfully sharing his writing talents with the world's children. "One of my aunts said I could spell a four letter word five ways." "In a school environment, I was perceived as being sloppy and erratic, and not paying attention. I became immune to it all; I liked what I wrote." Now he is an extremely successful
author, writer, and illustrator. Chapter II "Reading truly engages people's minds in a way no other art form does. You have to be part of what you read." When attending school, Avi quotes, "I was perceived as being erratic and sloppy," which was later discovered as an effect of a rare form of dyslexia called dysgraphia. This frustrating condition causes one to misspell words and confuse grammatical rules, and this disorder was kept hidden from Edward's knowledge by his parents. Despite his illness, Avi continued to read extensive amounts of books in which he loved and interpreted all of his information from; he loved reading and felt it provided him his personality, leisure, and security. If only he knew that someday it would shape his entire future. Otherwise, when he weren't reading, one might find him doodling or sketching, as he was a avid artist who had a knack for drawing. Just like his sad, overshadowed childhood, Avi often writes about young people in complicated situations within the adult world. Even all of the corrections marked in red ink on his papers reminded neglected Edward of blood that splattered in nasty, red splotches, draining out his life and soul from his fragile body. Avi went to school in an advanced, busy environment that never met his special needs and accelerated without him, leaving Edward's dazed head behind, lying obliviously in the dust before arriving to ninth grade in high school, where he completely failed after receiving all "F's". Afterwords, his parents transferred him to a more personalized school where he continued to fail but still read. When all hope seemed to be lost, Avi's parents hired a tutor, where his studies began to actively progress. Edward's tutor taught him all he needed to know at an efficient pace and even inspired him to become a writer when he was 17. With his tutor's help, Avi began to puzzle his teachers... not only with drastic improvement, but with his superlative writing. The young student believed that reading was the key to writing, and throughout his school career, Edward lived this philosophy to its greatest extent. Chapter IV Avi had always been overshadowed by his siblings; he now had a brother who was an immunologist and a sister who wrote poetry, so it had been about time that a turn of events were to be in his favor. Edward had always wanted to be a writer since he was a senior in High School, and attempted to become a playwright until his oldest son was born. When he began to write children's books in 1960, Avi would record elaborate tales that he and his sons exchanged, sometimes about objects like a glass of water. His very first book, "Things That Sometimes Happen", is based off of the many stories he told his oldest child. When it was being published, Edward, who was extremely pressed for time, hastily gave his agent a name that would remain printed on the cover of his many books for years to come: Avi. Avi's first books were geared toward his children's reading levels, but afterwords were aimed toward any child and their reading habit and level. Edward continues to write a variety of genres, from historical fiction to psychological thrillers, in which young people become involved in complicated situations within an adult world, as he says, "Children's literature is about the place and role of a child in society." These usually harsh and merciless situations relate to Mr. Wortis' own complicated childhood that ended in great triumph. For example, within the novel, "The Book Without Words", the main character, Sybil, is a young girl who seems to be a prisoner and slave of her own grotesque life as a servant to an alchemist (or one who makes gold), just like Edward's childhood seemed to be when constantly being nagged by parents and teachers to do better in his studies. Chapter V "I do believe that young people are special, as fascinating, as complex, and compelling as any other person, no matter what age." "You know that there are a lot of ways to tell a story," Avi says when speaking to a reporter. Edward began writing for children in 1960 and has published over 50 books and novels since then. When composing any story, Avi often forms an outline of the plot about his subject before filling pale, blank pages with words and letters that come together to form a story. Even after finishing a novel, the expansive author continues to write and revise, claiming that by changing a little, a big impact can be made. Avi also encourages rewriting his work over again several times, even though he may choose to record a piece over fifty times before feeling that it is completely adequate. Within his many varieties of stories, scholars even claim that Avi accurately recreated multiple historic times through his writing, such as "The Man Who Was Poe." This story was about a boy's relationship to a troubled Edgar Allen Poe before he became such a prestigious poet, which may also relate to the dyslexic boy's troubled childhood that ended in success. Edward, being fascinated with children, often enjoys visiting schools and spending time and sympathizing with disabled children; for him, it is as if he is looking back at his childhood and guiding those based off of it. “I always ask to speak to the learning-disabled kids. They come in slowly, waiting for yet another pep talk, more instructions. Eyes cast down, they won't even look at me. Their anger glows. I don't say a thing. I lay out pages of my copy-edited manuscripts, which are covered with red marks. 'Look here,' I say, 'see that spelling mistake. There, another spelling mistake. Looks like I forgot to put a capital letter there. Oops! Letter reversal.' Their eyes lift. They are listening. And I am among friends.” As a result of both his understanding for disabled kids and his personal love of reading, Edward co-founded the Breakfast Serials Club in 1996. This organization creates stories for young readers that are sent to newspapers for children to read. In addition to visiting schools, Avi taught children's Literature at Trenton University and is a member of the Author's Guild and Mystery Writers of America. "My favorite book is always the next of a Dyslexic Phenomenon. The Journey Begins Birth: Dec. 23, 1937
Twin sister, Emily, has a heart disorder
"Avi" is a family nickname
Reading was encouraged at home
Inspired to write a book off of radio
Overshadowed by siblings Overview Childhood Overview Had rare form of dyslexia called dysgraphia
Loved reading and sketching
As a result of his disease, was sloppy- letter reversals, etc.
Changed high schools after failing
Began to become a better student after working with a tutor who inspired him to become a writer
"Reading is the key to writing."
Red ink resembles blood splatters Occupation Became a librarian
Studied to become a playwright at the university of Madison
Moved to San Francisco
Graduated Colombia University with a degree in library science
Became a humanities librarian at Trenton State College
Met Joan Gabriner, a weaver who became his wife
Had two children, Shaun and Kevin Wortis Writing Career Overview Was always inspired to be a writer
Decided to be a writer when his first son was born
Originally wrote about random stories he told his sons, geared toward their reading levels
Hastily gave editor a name to cover his books-Avi
Sybil from "The Book Without Words" can relate to Avi's childhood
Wrote over 50 books
Often writes an outline, changes details, and rewrites a lot
Accurately recreated multiple historic settings-"The Man Who Was Poe" strongly relates to his life
Fascinated by children and often visits schools- spends time with disabled children
Co-founded Breakfast Serials Club
Teaches about children's literature at Trenton State University
Member of Author's Guild and Mystery Writers of America.



Family Heirlooms Overview Divorced his wife, Joan Gabriner and Married Coppelia Kahn, an English professor
Sons:
Both of his sons are largely involved with rock music
Stepson became a journalist
Lives in Colorado.
Awards Ceremony "Snail Tale"-Best Book by British Book Council
"Nothing But the Truth"-Boston Globe-Horn Book and Newberry Honor
"The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle"-Boston Globe-Horn Book and Newberry Honor
"Poppy"-Boston Globe-Horn Book
"The Fighting Ground"- Scott O'Dell award for historical fiction
one." [still]
Full transcript