Newbery-Winner Avi to Speak at Pitt-Bradford

Avi, the Newbery Award-winning author of more than 70 books for children and young adults, will visit the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford March 19.

The presentation, “A Conversation with Avi,” will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the Harriett B. Wick Chapel. Doors will open at 6 p.m., and the Pitt-Bradford Hospitality Management Program will provide refreshments.

The visit, sponsored by the Pitt-Bradford education program and the Education Club, is free and open to the public. To reserve a seat, contact Dr. Wayne Brinda, assistant professor of education, at

Most recognized for his Newbery-winning Crispin series, Avi will talk about how he gets his ideas and thoughts on using adolescent literature and will read excerpts from his most recent story, “Sophia’s War,” and other books. A book signing will follow the presentation, and books will be available for purchase.

Avi says that engaging his readers is one of the key reasons he keeps writing, and he has been fortunate enough to hear directly from readers about the impact his books have had. “I have been touched many times by readers who find some special connection between their lives and something I have written: the Danish girl who read something of mine in Danish, and struggled to communicate that in her halting English; the autistic boy who somehow found something meaningful about my books that reached his own inner life; the women who have told me how important ‘The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle’ was to them when growing up; the boy who felt a new sense of courage after reading ‘Crispin.’”

Beyond his fans’ questions about the characters he has created, the writer’s most commonly heard question may be about his own use of the single name “Avi.”

“As a young adult, I was a reader of French literature, which has that one name tradition: Moliere, Racine, Anouilh, Gide, and so forth,” he explains. “Then too, Avi (which is not my birth certificate name) was given to me by my twin sister when we were infants, and it stuck. Then my family was opposed to my becoming a writer because they considered my writing poor (which it was, then). By using my own name (Avi), I was having my revenge on family.”

Although he believes — and has the awards to show — that his writing skills have improved, writing still does not come easily to him, despite having more than 70 books to his credit. “I never studied writing in any formal sense. I taught myself to write by reading and by imitating what I was reading,” he says.

Avi earned the Newbery Award in 2003 for the first of his “Crispin” books, “Crispin: The Cross of Lead.” The Newbery is given annually by the American Library Association to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children for that year.

Avi also received Newbery honors for “True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle” and “Nothing but the Truth,” both of which also received Boston Globe Horn Book Awards, along with “Poppy.” He has earned the Scott O’Dell Historical Fiction Award for “The Fighting Ground” and the Christopher Award for “Encounter at Easton.”

In addition to his evening talk, Avi will also visit students at School Street and St. Bernard elementary schools, Fretz Middle School and Bradford Area High School during the day.

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