Finding Providence: The Story of Roger Williams (I Can Read Chapter Books)

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9780060252946: Finding Providence: The Story of Roger Williams (I Can Read Chapter Books)

It's 1635, and Mary and her family live in the Massachusetts Bay Colony where Mary's father, Roger Williams, is on trial for preaching what was then considered radical ideas about freedom and equality. When Roger is found guilty, he must escape and travel into the wilderness, where his only hope will be to find his friends the Narragansett Indians. Avi's account of how Roger Williams founded Providence, Rhode Island, is vividly brought to life by James Watling's evocative pictures.

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About the Author:

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 young people.

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.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Avi's first entry in the I Can Read chapter-book series tells the true story of Roger Williams's 1635 flight from arrest for ``preaching dangerous new ideas.'' He heads into the wilds of colonial New England, eventually sending for his family to join him in founding a new settlement where religious freedom is allowed, which his daughter, the narrator, names Providence. The story covers only his decision to flee and the highlights of his subsequent journey, an odd time frame that leaves out the events leading up to Williams's trial, his life with the Indians, the rigors of founding a new settlement, or even much detail about the Puritan intolerance from which he fled. During the trial, only the gasps of spectators indicate the contrast between their views and his, the latter of which will seem right and just to contemporary readers, and therefore unfathomable as the basis for prosecution. The illustrations are soft and pale, lacking drama; many of the characters share the same expression, looking as if they are whistling. A complement to other sources on Williams's life--this is neither interesting enough for general readers, nor specific enough for those not already grounded in the facts. (Fiction. 7-9) -- Copyright 1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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