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Bright Shadow

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
One day Morwenna works as an ordinary servant and the next she turns into a wizard with five wishes. Well, maybe she is a wizard. To test this new sorcery, she wishes to be so rich that she does not have to work. She waits. Nothing happens. The old man who spoke of wishes must be crazy. Then her best friend, Swen, stands upon the gallows about to be hung as a wizard and traitor to the King. She runs to him and quietly wishes for him to be saved at the same time he speaks this wish aloud. A bird swoops down and cuts the rope freeing young Swen. Who is the true wizard? The entire kingdom and Swen believes it must be him, but Morwenna knows different. With the escape of Swen, the King's fury explodes into rage and no one feels safe. Morwenna keeps the wishes a secret from everyone until Gareth, the leader of the rebels, sees a wish granted. Now she has to use her last wish to save the kingdom, but will she speak it with her last breath? Avi Wortis gave Morwenna not the traditional three wishes, but five. The damsel saved the knight, or did she? Wait wasn't the knight supposed to save the damsel, or did he? This delightful and entertaining fairy tale broke many of the rules, but it will still leave the reader with a smile on the face. 1994 (orig. 1985), Aladdin Paperbacks,
— Julia Beiker
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8 A sensitively written tale which poses philosophical questions about selfishness, selflessness and the terrible burdens of what first appear to be wonderful gifts. Young Morwenna, upon the death of an ancient wizard, finds herself in possession of the world's last five wishes. She soon discovers that this gift is a lonely burden. By a curious trick of fate, a beloved but rather simple and selfish friend believes himself to be in possession of the wishes and constantly gets himself into situations from which Morwenna must extricate him. Freed from his foolishness through his death, Morwenna must live with the knowledge that she could have saved him had she been willing to use her final wish, thus giving up her own life in return. In a straightforward manner, Avi presents a fascinating balance between the simplistic and the complex. The inner conflict constantly taking place within the more mature though chronologically younger Morwenna is well contrasted with that of the unsophisticated Swen. A compact and well-told story that should inspire much debate about Morwenna's predicament and what readers would do in her circumstances. Karen P. Smith, Yonkers Board of Education, N.Y.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689717833
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 3/1/1994
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 973,314
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 560L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 7.52 (w) x 10.94 (h) x 0.47 (d)

Meet the Author


Avi is the author of more than fifty books for children and young adults, including the 2003 Newbery medal winner Crispin: The Cross of Lead. He has won two Newbery Honors and many other awards for his fiction. He lives with his family in Denver, Colorado. Visit him at


Born in Manhattan in 1937, Avi Wortis grew up in Brooklyn in a family of artists and writers. Despite his bright and inquisitive nature, he did poorly in school. After several academic failures, he was diagnosed with a writing impairment called dysgraphia which caused him to reverse letters and misspell words. The few writing and spelling skills he possessed he had gleaned from his favorite hobby, reading -- a pursuit enthusiastically encouraged in his household.

Following junior high school, Avi was assigned to a wonderful tutor whose taught him basic skills and encouraged in him a real desire to write. "Perhaps it was stubbornness," he recalled in an essay appearing on the Educational Paperback Association's website, "but from that time forward I wanted to write in some way, some form. It was the one thing everybody said I could not do."

Avi finally learned to write, and well! He attended Antioch University, graduated from the University of Wisconsin, and received a master's degree in library science from Columbia in 1964. He worked as a librarian for the New York Public Library's theater collection and for Trenton State College, and taught college courses in children's literature, while continuing to write -- mostly plays -- on the side. In the 1970s, with two sons of his own, he began to craft stories for children. "[My] two boys loved to hear stories," he recalled. "We played a game in which they would give me a subject ('a glass of water') and I would have to make up the story right then. Out of that game came my first children's book, Things That Sometimes Happen." A collection of "Very Short Stories for Little Listeners," Avi's winning debut received very positive reviews. "Sounding very much like the stories that children would make up themselves," raved Kirkus Reviews, "these are daffy and nonsensical, starting and ending in odd places and going sort of nowhere in the middle. The result, however, is inevitably a sly grin."

Avi has gone on to write dozens of books for kids of all ages. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (1991) and Nothing but the Truth (1992) were named Newbery Honor Books, and in 2003, he won the prestigious Newbery Medal for his 14th-century adventure tale, Crispin: The Cross of Lead. His books range from mysteries and adventure stories to historical novels and coming-of-age tales; and although there is often a strong moral core to his work, he leavens his message with appealing warmth and humor. Perhaps his philosophy is summed up best in this quote from his author profile on Scholastic's website: "I want my readers to feel, to think, sometimes to laugh. But most of all I want them to enjoy a good read."

Good To Know

In a Q&A with his publisher, Avi named Robert Louis Stevenson as one of his greatest inspirations, noting that "he epitomizes a kind of storytelling that I dearly love and still read because it is true, it has validity, and beyond all, it is an adventure."

When he's not writing, Avi enjoys photography as one of his favorite hobbies.

Avi got his unique nickname from his twin sister, Emily..

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    1. Also Known As:
      Avi Wortis (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 23, 1937
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      University of Wisconsin; M.A. in Library Science from Columbia University, 1964
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2004

    Bright Shadow rules!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:)

    When its light out its dark when its dark out its gone when its gone when its gone 4ever so are you what is it? To find out read bright shadow by Avi. There are five wishes left in the land when the wizards time had come he passed on the wishes to a simple slave girl Morwenna. Now everythings changed what will she do?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2004

    great book

    this fantasy book is great book for anyone who likes magic.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2003

    A very touching tale

    One day Morwenna, a lowly servant in the kings palace, becomes the most powerful person in the land, the wizard; bearer of the last five wishes. But unfortunately for Morwenna, others would do anything to use or destroy both her and the wishes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2003

    it was ok

    i thought it was kind of scary. it was good though. not much to say about it. she saved the guy and everyone else the end

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2002

    Disapointing, but Magical

    I liked this book. However, it was kind of sad by how Morwenna was a lowly scurrymaid in a castle where a cruel king lives. I pity her plight. I also don't like how the king treated Pendal and the rest of his people and subjects. I wish Swen didn't have to die. And that Morwenna could have talked some sence into that silly boy explaining that she was the wizard, not he.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2000

    If you want to read something magical, read 'Bright Shadow'!

    This story is about a girl named Morwenna who is given 5 wishes from an old wizard. But these wishes can not be used for herself, only to help others. However, if Morwenna uses all five of these wishes, both she and the wishes are gone...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2009

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