Featured Book of The Week #2/Seer of Shadows by Avi PLUS AN EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT!!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

This Week's Featured Book of the Week

The Seer of ShadowsNewberry Medalist Avi weaves one of his most suspenseful and scary tales--about a ghost who has to be seen to be believed and must be kept from carrying out a horrifying revenge.

The time is 1872. The place is New York City. Horace Carpetine has been raised to believe in science and rationality. So as apprentice to Enoch Middleditch, a society photographer, he thinks of his trade as a scientific art. But when wealthy society matron Mrs. Frederick Von Macht orders a photographic portrait, strange things begin to happen.
Horace's first real photographs reveal a frightful likeness: it's the image of the Von Machts' dead daughter, Eleanora.
Pegg, the Von Machts' black servant girl, then leads him to the truth about who Eleanora really was and how she actually died. Joined in friendship, Pegg and Horace soon realize that his photographs are evoking both Eleanora's image and her ghost. Eleanora returns, a vengeful wraith intent on punishing those who abused her.
Rich in detail, full of the magic of early photography, here is a story about the shadows, visible and invisible, that are always lurking near. (Publisher's Summary from Powell's Books)

A Guest Post From Avi

Seer of Shadows

 If you own a camera these days the chances are, it is a digital one. That said, I think it is worth remembering that like many high-tech devices, photography has a long history, in this case a history that goes back to 1826!  
So it was that before I owned a digital camera, I used film, chemistry and light to make my pictures.  Moreover, I used what was called a darkroom. 
It was never easy to make pictures this way—good pictures were harder--but if you have only used digital photography, you just do not know how much wonderful fun you have missed. There is something magical, even mystical about working in a tiny gloomy room bathed in dim light, while using special lenses, projected light, chemical potions, photographic paper, and the sheer play of all of these things to create images from—well, from right out of the air.  I could and did spend hours in my darkroom. Loved every minute of it.
Moreover, the pictures I made were not in color, but in black and white, which added a whole other shadowy dimension to the images I tried to create.
If all this sounds interesting—how I hope you try film photography!—you should enjoy the book I wrote called The Seer of Shadows.  It is about early photography to be sure, but it is mostly an exciting and adventurous ghost story.  If it is a little creepy, maybe even a little scary, well, good! 
My story tells the story of Horace Carpetine, who, in 1874, was apprenticed to a professional photographer. No question, Horace did not believe in ghosts.  However, something very strange begins to happen when he starts taking his own pictures.  It turns out he is a “seer of shadows,” and some of those shadows . . .
No--I do not think I want to give away the story.  You will have to read it for yourself.
I will tell you, however, that when Horace teams up with the servant girl Pegg, some very strange things happen, dangerous things.  It takes all their wits, courage and cleverness—and a knowledge of photography--to know what to do, and save their lives.
I for one, do not believe in ghosts.  But guess what?  I really do believe in ghost stories!
So Seer of Shadows is the kind of ghost story I believe in.  I hope you will believe it, too, even as you enjoy it.  And I hope that when you read it you will see things a little differently. 
Perhaps you have heard the expression, “One picture is worth a thousand words.”  Wait until you read about the pictures developed here!  They might just get you into a darkroom.  And if you do, who know what kind of images you might conjure up?
You know, shadows are everywhere.  You just need to know how to see them.  
Your friend,

First, I want to thank Avi for agreeing to write a guest post especially for The Area Wide Book Battle. And I have some very exciting news, are you ready?

This year thanks to our good friends at Scholastic Book Fairs, Avi will be joining us at the 
2011 Area Wide Book Battle.

Now More About Avi

 I was born in New York City, along with a twin sister. I am five minutes older than Emily. It was Emily, for reasons no one knows — she certainly doesn't — who called me Avi. It stuck. It's the only name I use now.

My father was a doctor, and my mother, later on, became a social worker. Every night I was read to. Every Friday we were taken to the library. I always received at least one book for my birthday. I have a few of them yet. Early on, I had my own collection of books. I loved to read. Still do.

I came from a family of writers, artists, and musicians. And today we have all that, plus filmmakers, actors, and theater and TV directors. (Two of my sons are in the rock music world. The third is a journalist.) When we get together there is much talk, disagreement, and laughter.

Growing up in Brooklyn, I went to a public school, and sat in the same class with my sister until eighth grade. I hated that. My older brother was considered a genius. He isn't, but he did go to college at the age of 15. My sister was very smart too. Guess who wasn't thought to be that smart?

When I went to high school I wanted to be a designer of airplanes. But flunking out of the science high school brought me to a small private school that provided some of the attention I needed. I got it when an English teacher insisted I get some help with my writing.

I did get help, and that help led me to think that I might become a writer. I made up my mind to focus on this when I was 17 and a senior in high school.

I began by writing plays, and wrote a lot of bad ones. It was only when my eldest son, Shaun, was born, that I took to writing for kids. Since then, I've never written anything else. My first book was published in 1970. I've published over 30 books since then.

For some 25 years I worked as a librarian, first at the New York Public Library, then at Trenton State College in New Jersey. My life has always been with, around, and for books.

“I want my readers to feel, to think, sometimes to laugh. But most of all I want them to enjoy a good read.”

Though the topics and the style of Avi's books range widely, one common thread unites them: They are all invitingly readable, even to the most reluctant readers. Avi explains, “I take a great deal of satisfaction in using popular forms — the adventure, the mystery, the thriller — so as to hold my reader with the sheer pleasure of a good story.”

Honored with the Newbery Medal for Crispin: Cross of Lead and a Newbery Honor for Nothing but the Truth, Avi is the acclaimed author of several works of historical fiction, including The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and The Man Who Was Poe. Avi faced and overcame many difficulties in his effort to become a writer. He suffers from dysgraphia, a dysfunction in his writing abilities that causes him to reverse letters or misspell words. “In a school environment,” Avi recalls, “I was perceived as being sloppy and erratic, and not paying attention.” Still, in the face of unending criticism, Avi persevered. “I became immune to it,” Avi says. “I liked what I wrote.”
(Biography from Scholastic.com)


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