Enter an enchanted world of fairy animal friends!
Poppy the Pony is very shy. She loves soaring through Misty Wood, but she's too scared to talk to any of the other fairy animals. One day a thunderstorm comes, and Poppy discovers she is braver than she ever knew.
About the Author
Lily Small is the author of the Fairy Animals of Misty Wood series.
Read an Excerpt
Poppy the Pony
By Lily Small
Henry Holt and CompanyCopyright © 2014 Houthouse Fiction Ltd.
All rights reserved.
Poppy Needs a Friend
It was a lovely bright morning in Misty Wood. On top of Sundown Hill, a little pony called Poppy was grazing beside her mom.
Sundown Hill was the sunniest place in the whole wood. The yellow primroses that grew there shone like sunbeams, and there was plenty of lush green grass, too. Poppy liked the grass very much.
"Yum, yum!" she whinnied as she nibbled the juicy stems. She was nearly full now, but the grass was so tasty she couldn't stop eating.
"That's right, Poppy!" neighed her mom. "We've got lots of work to do today, so you need a big breakfast."
Poppy was a Petal Pony — one of the fairy animals of Misty Wood. Her gleaming coat was the same pale yellow as the primroses and her silky mane and tail were as white as swan feathers. It was the Petal Ponies' special job to swish their glossy tails and waft the beautiful scent of the flowers through the wood. The sweet smells made all the other animals feel happy.
"Woof, woof!" Loud barking rang out across the hill.
Poppy stopped chewing and turned to see who it was.
"Let's have a race!" a voice called. "I bet I win. Woof!"
Poppy heard the patter of paws on the ground. Lots of paws! Her long legs started to tremble as a pack of Pollen Puppies came scampering through the tall grass.
"Woof!" they barked as they charged along with their tails wagging. "Hello, Petal Pony. Woof, woof!"
But instead of answering, all Poppy could think was Help!
You see, Poppy was a very shy pony, and she found it hard to talk to fairy animals she didn't know. Quick as a flash, she unfurled her sky-blue wings and flew behind her mom to hide.
"Hey, Petal Pony!" barked one of the puppies. "Where did you go?" He peeped through the silky fronds of Poppy's mom's long tail. When he saw Poppy hiding, he trotted around to speak to her.
"There you are," he said with a grin. "We're having a race to Honeydew Meadow. Would you like to come with us?"
Poppy shook her head.
"Why don't you, Poppy?" said her mom. "You're really good at galloping."
"Yes, you could win the race," barked the puppy. "Come on!"
Poppy hid her face in her long white mane. She felt so shy, she didn't know what to do.
Poppy's mom looked at her kindly. "It'll be fun," she said.
Poppy thought for a moment. Her legs were a lot longer than a puppy's. And she did love to gallop fast. ...
"Poppy?" Her mom gave her a nudge with her velvety nose. "What do you say?"
Poppy took a deep breath. She wanted to say, "Yes, please. I'd love to!" But her throat went tight and all that came out was a little snuffling noise that sounded like: "Hm-hm-hm."
The puppy wagged his tail. "What did you say? Are you coming?"
Poppy hung her head. She was so embarrassed she felt hot all over.
Poppy's mom looked at her, waiting for her to say something, but Poppy's voice had completely disappeared.
"Maybe not today," Poppy's mom told the puppy. "But thank you very much for asking."
"That's okay! Poppy can play anytime." The puppy waved a paw at Poppy to say good-bye. "Come on, puppies, let's go!"
The puppies scampered away over the hill, barking happily.
"I wish I could have gone with them," Poppy sighed. "But I'm so shy I can't even speak to anybody."
Her mom nuzzled her neck. "You have to try to be a bit braver, Poppy. How will the other animals know that you want to be friends if you don't talk to them?" She lifted her head and gazed down the hill at the rest of Misty Wood. "Never mind now — it's time to start work," she said. "The sun's shining and all the flowers are blooming."
Poppy's face brightened. She loved swishing the lovely flower smells around the wood.
Her mom looked thoughtful for a second. "Why don't we split up and go to different places today?" she said. "I'll go to Bluebell Glade. You could start at Heather Hill. There'll be lots of gorgeous heather blossoms there."
"I'd rather be with you," Poppy said, her tail drooping. She'd never gone without her mom before.
"You'll be fine," her mom told her gently. "And maybe other fairy animals will come and talk to you. You might make a friend."
"Maybe," said Poppy, but she didn't think so. How could she make a friend if all she managed to say was hm-hm-hm?
"Just give it a try!" her mom said. "Have a lovely day and I'll see you at supper." She nuzzled Poppy with her nose and then galloped off a little way before opening her wings and soaring into the sky.
Poppy felt a bit lonely, left behind on Sundown Hill. But the sun was shining and she had lots of work to do, so she shook out her white mane, fluttered her wings, and headed off.
Misty Wood looked beautiful as she flew over it. When she arrived at Heather Hill, she heard a loud buzzing. Hundreds of bumblebees were hovering over the purple heather flowers.
Poppy landed in a quiet spot at the side of the hill and began flicking her snowy-white tail over the flowers. A wonderful sweet smell like honey filled the air.
"Mmmmm!" droned the bumblebees. They flew up and began swirling in a huge cloud. Then they zoomed down to collect pollen, buzzing even more loudly.
Poppy smiled as she listened. The bees sounded really happy, and it was all because of her!
It was time to move on and find some more flowers.
Poppy cantered down Heather Hill and into the trees. They formed a beautiful green archway for her to run through. Thin fingers of sunlight beamed through the leaves above her, making a pretty golden pattern on the floor.
Poppy felt very content as she raced along. But then, just as she reached a clearing, she saw three large fairy animals with stripy faces and silver wings.
Bark Badgers! Poppy skidded to a halt. They mustn't see her, or they might want to come over and talk. Luckily, she spotted a big honeysuckle bush that she could hide behind. She trotted over to it as quietly as she could.
Poppy peeped through the leaves. The badgers were busy doing their special job, decorating the tree bark.
Poppy watched as one badger scraped his claws over the bark, making a flowing line that looked just like a pony's tail. Another was scratching swirly shapes that made Poppy think of a rushing stream. The smallest badger was making a circle with lots of marks inside. When he'd finished, it looked as if a face was smiling out from the tree trunk.
That's so clever! thought Poppy. She noticed that the honeysuckle bush she was hiding behind was covered in white flowers with long yellow stems. She sniffed. The flowers smelled so lovely — even sweeter than the heather blossoms. Careful not to make a sound, she slowly swung her tail back and forth and the scent began to drift toward the badgers. The smallest one looked around.
"Mmmm," he murmured, "something smells nice!"
Poppy stopped swishing her tail and kept very still. After a minute, the badger turned back to his tree trunk and began to draw a new pattern with his claws.
"Phew!" Poppy breathed a sigh of relief. He hadn't seen her.
The badgers smiled as they sniffed the honeysuckle perfume. One by one, they began carving beautiful pictures of flowers on their trees. They looked so happy. Poppy's work was done.
She started creeping away from the clearing ... but the smallest badger looked around again. And this time he spotted her!
"Hello," he called, twirling his silver whiskers in greeting.
Poppy wanted to hide, but she was so shy she couldn't move an inch.
The badger smiled. "You're a Petal Pony."
Poppy nodded. She tried to say something, but nothing came out. It was as if all the words inside her had run away.
"Thank you for making everything smell so good," the badger said.
Poppy swallowed. She had to say something!
"You're welcome," she whispered very quietly.
The badger waited, but Poppy couldn't say anything else.
"Well — thanks again," he said with a friendly wave of his paw, and he turned back to his friends.
Poppy's head fell. The three badgers were having so much fun, chatting and laughing as they made their beautiful patterns. If only she could go and join in.
"I'll never, ever be able to make a friend," she whispered to herself. A silvery tear ran down her primrose cheek and dripped off the end of her velvety nose.CHAPTER 2
The Bluebirds' Song
Poppy shook the tears from her eyes and began to trot through the bright green ferns that grew in clusters beneath the trees. She couldn't keep feeling sad — she had to find some more flowers. Suddenly, she spotted something ahead. It looked like a huge mirror, shining brightly on the ground.
"Moonshine Pond!" Poppy neighed. "And it's daytime, so the Moonbeam Moles will all be fast asleep. At least I won't have to worry about bumping into any of them."
The Moonbeam Moles lived in burrows on the banks of the pond. Their special job was to catch moonbeams and place them in the water to make it glow like a beautiful pearl. Of course, the moles could only collect moonbeams after dark, so they woke up at night and went to bed during the day. Right now they would all be tucked in, fast asleep in their burrows.
Poppy cantered up to the pond. It was very quiet there. The only thing that moved was Poppy's reflection. Her yellow coat and long white mane looked pretty in the gleaming water.
Not far from the pond, Poppy could see little heaps of earth that marked the entrances to the moles' burrows. She went over and bent her head to see if she could hear the moles inside.
A funny grunting and whistling noise was coming up from under the ground.
"Och, och, phweee ..."
"Phwee, och, och ..."
The moles were snoring! They certainly wouldn't disturb her while she did her work.
Poppy saw some lavender bushes close by. She trotted over and swung her long tail to and fro over the lilac flowers.
"Aaaah!" she heard the moles sigh. "Mmmmm!" they breathed as the soothing lavender scent reached their sleepy noses, deep underground.
Poppy smiled. Her work at Moonshine Pond was finished. She flicked her wings and soared up through the trees, heading for the Heart of Misty Wood.
Soon she came to a place where the trees grew very tall. Beneath the trees was a grassy glade, and Poppy drifted toward it. As she landed, the grass felt as soft as a cushion under her hooves.
High above in the treetops, Poppy heard the flutter of wings. She looked up. Two bluebirds had landed on a branch.
"Tweet-tweet," sang one, flicking his bright blue tail.
"Cheep-cheep," replied the other, nodding her little blue head.
Poppy pricked her ears to listen to their lovely song. But they were so high up it sounded very faint. If only they would come closer.
Then Poppy had an idea. She walked over to a rose bush that was growing at the edge of the glade. She brushed her tail over the velvety pink petals, and a beautiful scent rolled like mist across the glade.
One of the bluebirds looked down, his head tilted to the side.
Poppy swept her tail over the roses again.
"Twee-ee-eet!" sang the bluebird as the perfume drifted up to him. He leaped off the branch and flew down to the grass.
"Chee-ee-eep!" trilled his mate as she joined him.
The two birds hopped around and fluttered their blue wings as if they were dancing. They hadn't noticed Poppy.
They like the smell of roses, Poppy thought with a smile.
There was a rustle at the edge of the glade and a shiny brown nose peeped through a cluster of ferns. A Stardust Squirrel with wings as bright as starshine emerged. Poppy darted behind some trees so he wouldn't see her. But then a voice spoke up on the other side of the nearest tree trunk.
"Ho hum, tiddly-pum! Just look at all these leaves ..."
Poppy peeped around the tree trunk. A Hedgerow Hedgehog was rolling around on the ground, collecting dead leaves on her spines.
"Tweet-tweet! Cheep-cheeep!" warbled the bluebirds.
"What a lovely song!" the hedgehog sighed. "I think I'll take a break." She sat down to listen. She still had leaves stuck all over her back like a coat.
Who's going to turn up next? thought Poppy. She made herself as small as she could so the hedgehog wouldn't notice her.
"Tweety-tweet-cheep!" trilled the bluebirds.
Now Poppy could hear rustling noises all around her. She felt her heart beating fast. There were fairy animals everywhere, making their way into the glade. A herd of Dream Deer trotted past, lifting their graceful heads as they sniffed the roses. Some Bark Badgers pushed their stripy faces through the ferns to watch the birds. Pollen Puppies, tails wagging, flopped on the ground to listen.
More and more animals arrived. Cobweb Kittens floated down through the air. Moss Mice and Holly Hamsters fluttered out from behind the trees, their tiny wings twinkling.
"Tweeety-tweet! Cheepy-cheep!" sang the bluebirds.
"Ah, what a wonderful song," a Bark Badger murmured. "And it smells so lovely here."
"Shhh," squeaked a little Moss Mouse, swinging from a grass stem. "Just listen!"
All the animals fell silent. As they listened to the bluebirds, Poppy saw her chance. She flicked her wings and flew away from the glade. Thank goodness no one had noticed her!
Poppy flew swiftly through the wood. She was just beginning to feel tired when she saw a gnarled old tree with juicy golden pears hanging from its branches. It had been a long time since breakfast and she was feeling very hungry, so she swooped down and landed under the tree.
She was just about to take a bite from one of the fallen pears when she heard a voice from above.
"Help!" the voice squeaked.
Poppy froze. Someone was in the tree and they were calling to her! But what was she going to do?CHAPTER 3
Poppy to the Rescue!
Everything went quiet. Poppy was just wondering whether she'd imagined the voice when she heard it again.
"Help!" it cried. "Please help me!"
Poppy was puzzled. She hadn't seen anyone at all when she flew over the pear tree.
"Who are you?" she tried to say, but her voice wasn't working again and all that came out was "Hm-hmhm?"
"I'm stuck!" the voice whimpered. "Please help me."
Whoever it was sounded very scared.
Poppy peered up. A tiny Cobweb Kitten, with fur the color of chocolate, was clinging to a high branch.
"Please! I want to get down," the kitten meowed, letting go of the branch and waving her paws at Poppy.
Poppy was amazed. The kitten wasn't holding on — so why hadn't she fallen out of the tree? Then Poppy saw that one of the kitten's golden wings was trapped.
Poppy felt so sorry for the kitten that she forgot all about being shy. "You poor thing," she neighed. "Of course I'll help you get down."
"Oh, thank you!"
"What's your name? And how did you get stuck up there?" Poppy called. Her voice was working perfectly now — she didn't even have to think about it.
The kitten was trembling. "My name's Coco," she meowed. "What's yours?"
"Poppy," Poppy replied.
"Hello, Poppy. I was just on my way to meet my friends for a picnic when I spotted these juicy pears."
Poppy nodded. "They do look delicious."
"I thought they'd be perfect for the picnic," Coco said. "I swooped down to pick one, but then my wing got caught."
Poppy tossed her white mane. Then, with a swirl of her shimmering wings, she flew up to the branch. But as soon as she landed, Poppy realized she couldn't reach Coco with her nose. There were too many twigs and leaves in the way.
"Please be quick!" Coco pleaded. "My wing is getting sore."
Carefully, Poppy turned and twirled her tail over Coco's wing, twisting it gently until it came free.
Coco leaped off the branch ... then squealed with fright.
Poppy saw Coco tumbling down! She flapped her wings hard and flew after her. When she was close enough, she flicked out her tail as far as it would go and managed to catch Coco just before she hit the ground.
"Thank you so much!" Coco gasped as Poppy lowered her onto the grass. "My wing isn't working properly. I can't fly."
A tear welled in Coco's eye. "And if I can't fly, I'll never get to the picnic in time."
The little kitten looked so sad that Poppy didn't stop to think. "I could take you there if you like," she said in a very soft voice.
Coco was so pleased she jumped up and down. "Ouch!" she squeaked as she tried to flutter her wings. "I must remember not to do that. Thank you, Poppy!"
"You're welcome," Poppy said.
Coco was being so bouncy it made Poppy feel shy again, so she didn't say anything else. She wrapped her tail around the kitten and lifted her onto her back.
"Ooh, this is so much fun!" Coco meowed, holding on to Poppy's coat with her paws. "I've always wondered what it must be like to be a Petal Pony — to gallop so fast and fly so high. Now I'm going to find out!"
Poppy tossed her head. She couldn't help feeling a little bit proud that Coco might want to be like her. "Let's go!" she neighed.
Coco told Poppy that the picnic was happening near Dewdrop Spring. Poppy set off through the trees at a smooth trot. Soon they came out into Honeydew Meadow.
"Could we go a bit faster?" asked Coco.
"Are you sure?" Poppy said. "I don't want you to fall off."
"I'll hold on tight, I promise," Coco said.
Excerpted from Poppy the Pony by Lily Small. Copyright © 2014 Houthouse Fiction Ltd.. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter One Poppy Needs a Friend,
Chapter Two The Bluebirds' Song,
Chapter Three Poppy to the Rescue!,
Chapter Four Picnic Time!,
Chapter Five Under the Oak Tree,
Chapter Six Surprise!,
Other Books in the Fairy Animals of Misty Wood Series,
About the Author,