Avi has written over sixty books, including realistic fiction, humor, mysteries, and historical fiction. The first recommended reading list I received as part of my training in young adult services included several of his books — Nothing But the Truth and The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. During my career as a young adult librarian I’ve enjoyed many of Avi’s books, especially several titles that combined historical fiction with suspense, like Crispin: The Cross of Lead and Murder at Midnight. And yet, out of all of Avi’s contributions in the field of children’s and young adult literature, one of my all-time favorites is still Wolf Rider. It’s a story about a boy who has a terrifying mystery dropped in his lap and tries to figure out what he should do next. This booktalk always keeps the kids in my audience on the edge of their seats!
Oh, I do have one marketing question, though. Why do some of the covers for this book feature the subtitle “A Tale of Terror” and some don’t? Because while the picture featured on the cover shown above definitely LOOKS really cool, I think that the whole “Tale of Terror” thing would also be a major selling point. You see, the first time I booktalked Wolf Rider, this is what it looked like:
The kitchen phone rang three times before Andy picked it up. “Hello?” he said. A voice replied, “I just killed someone.” “What?” “I just killed someone.” Well, Andy has no idea who this guy was, but he figured he shouldn’t take any chances – this guy might be telling the truth. He wrote a note to his friend Paul, who was in the room with him. The note said, “Guy killed someone. Go outside phone. Call cops. Trace call to this number. I’ll try to keep him on.” Paul ran outside to call the police, and Andy stayed on the phone. The man said his name was Zeke, and that he’d just killed a woman named Nina Klemmer. He described what she looked like – what she had looked like when she was alive, and what she looked like now that she was dead. He said there was blood all over the floor, and Nina’s eyes were still open, as if she were looking at him. Zeke described her car, her clothes, everything about her. Andy kept asking questions, trying to keep the man on the line. Finally, the line went dead.
Andy thought it would be simple. He would just tell the police what he’d learned, they would solve the case and everything would be over. But it didn’t work out that way, because when Andy told his story, no one believed him. Not the police, or his teachers, or his father, or even his friends. The only way Andy is going to solve this is to do it himself. But who is Nina Klemmer? Is she just a made-up name, or is she real? Is she really dead, or is she alive and in danger? Andy is about to find out that these dangerous questions are going to have some very dangerous answers.