Edward Irving Wortis (born December 23, 1937), better known by the pen name Avi, is an American author of young adult and children's literature. He is a winner of both the Newbery Honor and Newbery Medal.
Avi and his twin sister Emily Wortis Leider (also a writer) were born in New York City to Joseph Wortis, a psychiatrist, and Helen Wortis, a social worker. In the year after Avi's birth, his family moved to Brooklyn. When he was young his sister gave him the nickname "Avi." Two of Avi's grandfathers were writers, and one grandmother was a playwright. In interviews, he recalled his mother reading to him and his sister every night, and going to the public library on Fridays. He is also the first cousin of the Academy Award-winning actor Alan Arkin.
Avi's parents transferred him from Stuyvesant High School to Elisabeth Irwin High School, a smaller private school. There he studied with a tutor, Ella Ratner, whom he credits for his writing success.
Avi has written more than 60 books. He has written books for different age groups and in many different genres including historical fiction, fantasies, comedies, mysteries, ghost stories, adventure tales, realistic fiction, and picture books. Avi has won awards for his books, including a Newbery Honor for The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle in 1991 and another for Nothing But the Truth in 1992. His fiftieth book, The Cross of Lead, was awarded the Newbery Medal in 2003. Avi's book, "Iron Thunder," about the ironclad Monitor and its battle with the CSS Virginia in Hampton Roads, Va., was selected as the 2009 Beacon of Freedom Award winner by Williamsburg Regional Library and Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. He accepted the award at the Williamsburg Library on Friday, Oct. 16 at 7:30 p.m. As of the end of 2009, Avi will have published 70 books, all written for children/young adult. In 2006 Avi wrote a sequel to Crispin: The Cross of Lead titled At the Edge of the World.
After living in Providence, Rhode Island in the 1980s and 1990s, Avi now lives inDenver, Colorado, with his wife, Linda Cruise Wright. He has adult children.