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The Man Who Was Poe

The Man Who Was Poe

4.7 41
by Avi

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The Old City Lay Dark And Cold...It is night. And Edmund is alone. His mother is gone. His aunt, who went in search of her, is dead. His sister has disappeared. Edmund has no one. Except for a stranger of the night.A dark, mysterious stranger who flees from demons of his own...who follows Edmund with grim determination through the cold and shadow city, promising to


The Old City Lay Dark And Cold...It is night. And Edmund is alone. His mother is gone. His aunt, who went in search of her, is dead. His sister has disappeared. Edmund has no one. Except for a stranger of the night.A dark, mysterious stranger who flees from demons of his own...who follows Edmund with grim determination through the cold and shadow city, promising to help, but often hindering. A stranger who needs Edmund for purpose of his own!

Author Biography:

Ask Avi how you know when you're a real writer and his answer is simple: "I think you become a writer when you stop writing for yourself or your teachers and start thinking about readers." Avi made up his mind to do that when he was just a senior in high school.

Avi was born in 1937 in New York City and was raised in Brooklyn. Kids often ask him about his name. "My twin sister gave it to me when we were both about a year old. And it stuck." To this day, Avi is the only name the author uses.

As a kid, Avi says, he was "shy, not into sports, but someone who loved to read and play games of imagination." He did not consider himself a good student, though. "In elementary school I did well in science, but I was a poor writer. When I got to high school I failed all my courses. Then my folks put me in a small school that emphasized reading and writing." What made him want to become a writer? "Since writing was important to my family, friends and school, it was important to me. I wanted to prove that I could write. But it took years before I had a book published."

Avi didn't start off as an author of children's books but as a playwright. It was only when he had children of his own that he started to write for youngpeople.

When asked if writing is hard for him, Avi gives an unequivocal YES. "But," he goes on, "it's hard for everyone to write well. I have to rewrite over and over again, so on average it takes me a year to write a book." Where does he get his ideas? "Everybody has ideas. The vital question is: What do you do with them? My wife, a college teacher, uses her ideas to understand literature. My rock musician sons shape their ideas in to music. I take my ideas and turn them into stories."

Avi's advice for people who want to write: "I believe reading is the key to writing. the more you read, the better your writing can be." He adds, "Listen, and watch the world around you. Don't be satisfied with answers others give you. Don't assume that because everyone believes a thing, that it is right or wrong. Reason things out for yourself. Work to get answers on your own. Understand why you believe things. Finally, write what you honestly feel, then learn from the criticism that will always come your way."Avi's many award-winning books for young readers include the Newbery Honor Books Nothing But the Truth and The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, as well as more Tales from Dimwood Forest, including Poppy, winner of the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award, Poppy and Rye, and Ragweed. His many other books include tales of mystery, fantasy, and historical fiction for young readers of all ages.In His Own Words...

When I was small, I was read to continually. My grandparents were always telling stories. Our house was filled with books. I saw adults read. Hardly a wonder, then, that I becane a early reader of all sorts of things — books for childern, comic books, science magazines, history books — anything in which I could fing a story. There was kids' radio too, which I adored. Even so, writing didn't interest me.

It was in my junior year of high school that a great crisis took place: My English teacher informed my parents that I was the worst student he ever had. That summer I was required to spend a lot os time with a family friend, a teacher, who tutored me in writing basics. She gave me something even more important: a reason for writing.

Writing, she taught me, was not just for myself or for some teacher. It was a way of sharing ideas and stories with many. With that notion in mind, I set out after that summer to be a writer, though it wasn't until I had childern of my own that I began to write for young people.

I believe that as a writer for kids, I have three basic options. The first is to write as well as I can. The second is to be honest. The third is to create a vision of possibility. It doesn't matter if that vision is happy or tragic, funny or serious. What does matter is that I show that life is worth living, that we must at least try to fulfill the promise of ourselves. As one of my characters once said, "A good childern's book of promises. And promises are ment to be kept."

I really enjoy meeting my readers. Each year I visit schools and classrooms, and talk to young readers, teachers, and librarians all over the country. We talk about books, the writing and reading of them, how books affect — even change — their readers. It's a good life.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Book Review Service
The writing is that of a true master. . . a suspenseful, thought-provoking novel that combines mystery with historical fiction. .
From the Publisher


"The writing is that of a true master . . . a suspenseful, thought-provoking novel."- CHILDREN'S BOOK REVIEW SERVICE

". . . an intricate detective story with the lurking menace of the real Poe's short stories."-THE BULLETIN

Library of Congress Best Book of the Year
NCTE Notable Children's Book
New York Public Library Best Book of the Year
Edgar Allan Poe Award nominee
Mystery Writers of America Best Juvenile Mystery Award nominee

Children's Literature - Denise Daley
It is Providence, Rhode Island in the middle of the nineteenth century and Edmund and his little sister are hungry. Their aunt told them not to leave the little room that they have been holed up in for the last two days, but they are so very hungry that Edmund ventures out in search for some food. He returns a short while later to discover that his sister has vanished. In a panic, Edmund runs up and down the streets searching for her. He finds a man who asks to be called Mr. Dupin. Mr. Dupin is a heavy drinker prone to unfriendly mood swings but he is the only person who has offered Edmund any help, so Edmund trusts him. Together they unravel a mystery that involves a bank robbery, a murder, and even ghosts! In addition to these mysteries there is the intrigue that surrounds Mr. Dupin and his undercover liaisons with Mrs. Whitman. As each clue is revealed, Mr. Dupin's keen senses enable him to solve all but the most important mystery; Edmund still has not found his beloved sister. The suspense and the fast pace of this well-written novel will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Avi is a Newbery Medal winner who has written many novels for children and young adults. Reviewer: Denise Daley

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.56(d)
600L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The old city lay dark and cold. A raw wind whipped the street lamps and made the gas flames hiss and flicker like snake tongues. Fingers of shadow leaped over sidewalks, clawing silently upon closely set wooden houses. Stray leaves, brittle and brown, rattled like dry bones along cold stone gutters.

A man, carpetbag in hand, made his way up College Hill, up from the sluggish river basin, battling the steep incline, the wind, and his own desire. He was not big, this man, but the old army coat he wore -- black and misshapen, reaching below his knees -- gave him an odd bulk. His face was pale, his mustache dark, his mouth set in a scowl of contempt. Beneath a broad forehead crowned by a shock of jet black hair, his eyes were deep, dark, and intense.

Sometimes he walked quickly, sometimes slowly. More than once he looked back down the hill, trying to decide if he should return to the warm station and the train he had just left. There were moments he could think of nothing better. But he had traveled all day and was exhausted. What he wanted, what he needed, was a place where he could drink and sleep.

And write. For the man was a writer very much in need of cash. A story would bring money. But of late he had been unable to write. Idea, theme, characters: he lacked them all

Short of breath, he reached Benefit Street. There, he stopped beneath a lamp post and looked south. The porch lamp of the Unitarian Church was glowing, indicating that its doors were open to the homeless. If he had no choice he knew he could sleep there. But his gaze turned north. That was where he wanted to go.

Opening his carpetbag he rummagedthrough clothing, bottles, a notebook, until he found a letter. He read it. Though he himself had written the letter many times, he still found it unsatisfactory. Still, he felt he'd best deliver it before he changed his mind.

More slowly than before, the man walked north along Benefit Street until at last, seeing the house where he intended to leave the letter, Number Eighty-eight, he paused. The door to the dark red building -- ordinary a moment before -- now appeared to him like a gaping, hungry mouth. He felt suddenly that he was looking through the mouth to a graveyard situated just behind.

Despite the bitter cold, he began to sweat. Pain gripped his heart. He felt as if a million needles were pricking him. Against his agony he shut his eyes until, unable to bear it, he turned and fled. Even as he did someone flung himself from the darkness, crashing into him, and all but knocked him to the ground.

Gasping for breath the man attempted to see who had attacked him. Seeing no one, he was seized with terror. A demon had struck. Then he saw: sitting on the pavement, equally stunned, was not a demon, but a boy.

The man drew himself up. "That," he managed to say, "was a vicious blow."

"I didn't see you, sir," Edmund whimpered. "I'm very sorry."

"I should think you would be," the man said as he brushed off his greatcoat. "You could have sent me to the grave. " With a quick step he started off, only to stop. Something about the boy's wretchedness had touched him. And when the boy shivered -- he was wearing little more than a shirt and trousers and even these were ragged -- the man came back.

"Are you all right?" he asked.

Edmund was too frightened to say.

"I asked you a question," the man said, his voice turning harsh.

Edmund attempted to reply but gave up. Instead he buried his face in his arms and began to sob.

The man knelt. "What are you doing here at such an ungodly hour?" he demanded. "Why have you nothing warmer to wear? What is the matter?" He drew up Edmund's face. When he saw how dirty, red-eyed and streaked with tears it was, he softened. "Why are you so troubled?" he asked.

"She's gone," Edmund blurted out, trying to knuckle the tears from his eyes.

"Who's gone?"


"Sis?" the man repeated in a shocked whisper.

"My sister," Edmund explained, not noticing the strange look which had come into the man's face.


"I don't know." Edmund began to sob again.

"Your mother? Your father?" the question was asked with new urgency. "Where are they?"

"I don't have a father, sir. Nor a mother."

The man stared fixedly at the boy. "How long," he whispered, "have you been without them?"

"My mum left a year ago," Edmund answered.

"And your father?"


"Your father."

Edmund turned away. "He was lost at sea."

"Then who looks after you?"

"Aunty Pru. And...now she's been gone three days."

"Three days!"

"Aunty told us to wait. She said she'd come back after two hours, that since I was the man of the family, it was my job to take care of Sis. But though we waited, sir -- never budged -- Aunty didn't return. It was only when we had no more food that I went out to get some bread. It wasn't far. To the saloon on Wickenden Street. I know I wasn't supposed to leave her, but, sir, there was nothing left. And Sis was beastly hungry. I had to. It had been two days!

"I did lock the door behind me. And I did come right back. But when I did, though the door was still locked, Sis was gone. Ever since, I've been searching for her. All over the city. And, sir, I've tried to get help, but no one would give it!" Edmund burst into tears again.

"How old are you?"


The man stood. "On your feet," he said.

Meet the Author

Avi is the award-winning author of more than seventy-five books for young readers, ranging from animal fantasy to gripping historical fiction, picture books to young adult novels. Crispin: The Cross of Lead won the Newbery Medal, and The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and Nothing But the Truth were awarded Newbery Honors. He is also the author of the popular Poppy series. Avi lives outside Denver, Colorado. You can visit him online at www.avi-writer.com.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
December 23, 1937
Place of Birth:
New York, New York
University of Wisconsin; M.A. in Library Science from Columbia University, 1964

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The Man Who Was Poe 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 41 reviews.
480292 More than 1 year ago
The Man Who Was Poe is written by Avi, but one of the main characters is inspired by a man named Edgar Allan Poe. Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston in 1809 and both of his parents were actors. Poe¿s father disappeared and his mother died when he was three. Poe was taken to Richmond, Virginia to live with John Allan and he soon became a drunk and a gambler. Unable to find a job, Poe wrote several poems, and then went to the army, but soon was expelled. Later he went to Baltimore, where his career as a writer began to unfold. Although Poe was falling in love with another woman, he courted Mrs. Sarah H. Whitman. In Providence, Poe had a daguerreotype made. In 1949 Edgar Allan Poe died because of mysterious circumstances. Although the main reason I read this book was because it was assigned to me in English class, as I began to read it it slowly began to become more interesting.

The setting of The Man Who Was Poe is in Providence, Rhode Island during the 19th century. In my opinion, Dupin is the protagonist. Although some that read the story my believe he is a worthless, gambling drunk, Mr. Dupin helps Edmund find a lot of the sources to help him find his missing Aunt, mother, and sister. Also I believe that without Dupin, Edmund trying to find his family would have been next to impossible. The antagonist is Mr. Ratchet. He is the antagonist because he turns out to be one that kindnaped Edmund¿s sister and mother. The major conflict, in my opinion, is Edmund wondering if he should trust Dupin or not, since Dupin is an alcoholic that cannot control himself much after he drinks.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to read mysteries and horror. I believe that this is a must read student of American literature is because it helps students read about a famous author¿s file. I think the book moves slowly and is somewhat confusing. An example that supports my opinion from the book is how the book starts out with Edmund coming back from the store and his sister was kidnapped. Then you have to read the clues to the book and wait until the end to find out what happened to his sister, mother, and aunt.
JaMal Holland
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book I read is The Man Who Was Poe by Avi. Avi is a very precise writer and he takes pride in his work. This book was based on the character Edgar Allen Poe who was born in Boston in 1809. Poe was married to a woman named Virginia who had died in 1847 in Richmond, VA. A reason to read is that you learn from each book. This book also used a lot of strategies to solve the problems that came like how to find Sis after her mysterious disappearance from their locked room.

The setting of The Man Who Was Poe was in the port city of Providence, Rhode Island. The protagonist in the story were Edmund and Dupin because they were solving the problems of Edmund¿s aunt¿s death and finding Edmund¿s sister. The antagonist in the story is Mr. Ratchet. Sis and Edmund were left by Auntie who went to go look for their mother in the apartment. Edmund had left Sis to go to the store but Sis was not there when he got back. Edmund didn¿t know what to do. But then, Dupin came along. Edmund didn¿t know whether to trust him or not. Later, Edmund and Dupin had to figure out the mystery of auntie¿s death. They used strategies like reasoning and discuss things like modern day detectives.

The Man Who Was Poe is a great mystery to read. I would recommend it to those who like solving problems. Using Edgar Allen Poe, one of the most famous, American literacy figures as a character made this book more interesting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Man Who Was Poe was written by Avi. Avi was born in New York City and raised in Brooklyn. His twin sister gave him his name and it pretty much stuck. If you like detective, stories full of suspense, and thought-provoking novels, then this is the book for you.
The setting of The Man Who Was Poe is in Providence, Rhode Island in 1848. Edmund, the main character of the book, has lost his sister, mother, and aunt. He gets a man named Auguste Dupin to help him find his family members. Edmund is definitely the protagonist. Mr. Rachett, the antagonist, was married to Edmund¿s mother and had stolen all her money. He also captured and killed Edmund¿s aunt with the help of a man named Mr. Peterson. There are many conflicts in The Man Who Was Poe. One conflict is Edmund¿s internal conflict, since he doesn¿t know whether to trust Mr. Dupin, who is an alcoholic, or not. An external conflict is that Edmund had lost his mother, aunt, and sister and is looking for them.
The Man Who Was Poe is a satisfactory book. I think it starts off weakly but gets stronger in the end, when the action comes to a climax. I do recommend that people read this book, because Dupin is Edgar Allan Poe, who is one of greatest American Literature writers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She sits on the edge of her bed wearing a small dress and no leggings underneath and no shoes
book4children More than 1 year ago
When it comes to middle grade mystery novels, I don't know that I've ever read one quite as breathtakingly gripping as The Man Who was Poe. It is a tale of murder, deceit, and madness. The fictionalized Poe is a sour, selfish man that cares only for material to create a story. Edmund is a sweet, naive little boy with no one else to turn to. Together they unravel the mystery of where Edmund's mother and sister have disappeared to. The plot is full of suspense and kept me guessing until the very end. Everything in this book moves the story forward and is relevant in some way. While I didn't particularly like any of the characters, they felt authentic and real, as if they could step out of the page and into real life. I've heard of some of Avi's other books, and you can bet your booties that I'll be reading them soon!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome book 5 stars
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this book but its only letting me read the sample. I need help to why its doing this?
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I had to read this book for schoool. Because i am still in school. So first i thought the book was going to be retarted. Then i started reading then i couldnt stop! I read it one class period! As soon as you start it sucks you in and you wont want to stop reading! So i HOPE you read the book it is a wonderful book to read.EnJoY!!!!!!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This was an amazing book.My teacher gave it to me.I thought that people that love mystery should read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent book. I enjoyed it from start to finish. The descriptions of Rhode Island in the ninteenth century transport you to a wonderful historic place!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Avi has truly outdone himself. This book kept me on the edge of my seat, I finished it in one day!!! This is more than worth the time and money you will spend reading it. Outstanding.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down I had to keep reading to find out whats gonna happen next...This book deserves 5 stars +
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was probably the best book that I have ever read. It was extremely suspensful and the characters were very interesting by the way that they cahnged through out the story, I thought there were more details than needed, but other than that the book was absolutley amazing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book realy freaked me out! I mean, I had to turn on all the lights in the house, just to read this book. It was one of the best books i ever read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great book for all teens and adults!
Guest More than 1 year ago
After Robert Clark's 'Mr. White's Confession' I was craving another mystery/suspence book that would take me somewhere else: into the horror genre while keeping a fairly decent mystery/suspence-filled story. Avi's book does just that. He combines murder mystery with horror, painting pictures so vividly in my mind that, like any reader or writer, I played the book in my mind. I enjoyed the way it played out. The story is very well thought out. I am a big Poe fan and Avi keeps Poe's gloomy mood throughout the book->a morbid drunk flooded with images of death->which later blooms into a story for.....if you haven't read it, i suggest you pick up the book and dive into this incredibly unbelievable book that will leave you in awe and inspired.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Do you like mysteries? If you do, you will love this book. The book is called The Man Who Was Poe. The story takes place in Brooklyn, New York in the year 1848. The characters are Edmund, Mr. Dupin, and Sis.Edmund had to go to the store to get some food. While he was on his way home, this old man asked him to help him. When he returned home after helping the man, Sis was gone! Mr. Dupin is the man who is helping Edmund find his Sis. Edmund even sain,'can you help me find my Sis.' The good thing about the book is that they found his Sis. Thhe bad part is that his aunt is dead and Dupin gets drunk a lot. This book is very interesting because it tells you how they figured out how Sis was missing and how they figured out who the body was. This book deserves 5 stars!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. I highly recommended this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i couldnt put this book down after i started reading it, its simply a work of art this is possibly one of the greatest books you will ever read, filled with tons of suspence thrills and chills. i would also reccamend something upstairs.