Who Was That Masked Man Anyway? Avi

When I was a kid, I had a bike and a backpack. I’d ride up to the library at least once a week all summer long and check out a bag full of books. The next week, I’d take them all back and restock. If I found an author I liked, I would check out every single book I could find by that author the next week.

There were some authors I always returned to. One of them was Avi.

I don’t know which came first: meeting Avi, or reading his books. But when I was third grade, I was selected from my class for the “Young Authors” program, and I got to meet Avi himself, who told us his story, why he loved to write, and so forth. I knew from that moment that I’d be an author too. Although I have not really written children’s fiction as I thought I wanted to as a child, I certainly have kept reading, and as my 6+ years of blogging about reading may indicate, I like writing quite a bit too!

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Avi is such a fascinating author to me because not only does he write realistic children’s fiction (like Nothing But The Truth), he also writes ghost stories (like Something Upstairs), mysteries (Who Stole the Wizard of Oz?), historical fiction (The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and Crispin: The Cross of Lead), historical-ghost-mystery (The Man Who Was Poe) and fantasy (Poppy). There are a million other subgenres he’s written too: I must admit, I have not kept up with all his new books since college and motherhood have come along! (I love that, now that my son is getting older, I have more “excuses” to revisit middle grade fiction!).


Who Was That Masked Man Anyway? (originally published 1992, reissued by Scholastic Paperbacks 2014) is one of the most unusual novels I’ve read: it is written entirely in dialogue. No, it’s not a play: there are no name indications in the text, nor are there settings and stage directions. Indeed, every single line that appears in the book is a line of dialogue. Continue Reading

How to Read Literature by Terry Eagleton

In Terry Eagleton’s slim volume How to Read Literature (Yale University Press, 2013), the author approaches literature like an old friend. His volume is easily readable and quite fun. Rather than didactically explaining how to read literature, he writes with familiarity about different ways one could look at literature. There is no lecture in this volume. There are, however, lots of ideas and inspirations from classic and modern works that Mr Eagleton himself obviously loves. Continue Reading

Education: A Very Short Introduction by Gary Thomas

I feel like I should title this post “Yes, I actually read an adult nonfiction book once again,” since I’ve been neglecting not only my personal reading but also my nonfiction. Lately, I’ve been reading picture books, biographies of American historical figures geared toward youth, and other such interesting, but not mind-boggling reading.

Education by Gary Thomas (Oxford University Press, 2013) is one of the newest additions to the Very Short Introduction series, a series I’ve spoken highly of in the past simply because each book does such a wonderful job of introducing a topic, the issues surrounding the topic, and the people involved without overburdening the reader. Education is no exception. In 120 slim pages, Thomas introduced me to a general history of the processes of education, the people involved in various philosophies, the different schools of thought in education, and the contemporary issues that surround the complex topic.Continue Reading

Good Prose by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd

Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction by Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd (Random House, January 2013) is a volume about what makes nonfiction great. Using their own experiences as a writer of nonfiction (Tracy Kidder, bestselling author) and an editor of creative nonfiction (Richard Todd, Atlantic editor), the two friends provide a compelling tale of what makes good writing good, and what makes a good writer a good writer, covering everything from how to begin and how to structure a narrative to the more complicated specifics of memoirs, essays, style, and writing as job in today’s society.Continue Reading