In the young reader's novel The Man Who Was Poe, author Avi weaves a fictional tale about the historical author Edgar Allen Poe. In the tale, Poe helps a young boy named Edmund solve the mysteries of his mother's disappearance, his aunt's murder, and his sister's kidnapping. Along the way, Poe sees a likeness between Edmund and himself and writes Edmund's story, swapping his own ending in which his beloved wife named Sis dies for Edmund's ending in which Edmund's Sis is rescued. Since the story revolves around Edmund and Poe, two of the most important main characters are Edmund and Poe, who calls himself Mr. Auguste Dupin.
We learn a few things about Edmund based on his description in the prologue. We learn he is very young, frightened, and undernourished from poverty. Evidence of his poverty is seen in one of the first descriptive sentences: "He was a frail boy, as thin as the clothes he wore, with light hair and a face both sad and pale." We further learn that he is very caring toward his sister, as evidenced by the fact that, even while still in the room with her, he keeps careful watch over her. His affectionate name for her, "Sis," is also evidence of how much he cares for her. Later, Edward also shows his bravery and strength of character when he ventures out on his own to try and find something for himself and his sister to eat. He further shows he has an ability to trust others when he knows he needs to, as shown in his ability to ask Poe for help.
One of the most important things we learn about Poe is he has an astute ability to observe and to apply reason, much like Sherlock Holmes. Through his ability to reason, Poe is able to figure out exactly why his mother has gone missing and who murdered Edward's aunt. We also learn he is in a state of severe emotional turmoil. More specifically, he is in grief over the death of his wife. As a result of his grief, he is having problems with alcoholism. As the story progresses, he learns to face the sorrows of his past and even to let go of drinking.