The fifth book in the beloved Poppy series by Newbery Medal–winning author Avi, with illustrations from Caldecott Medal–winning artist Brian Floca
There's trouble at Gray House, the girlhood home that Poppy left long ago. Poppy's family has called her back to save them all—mother, father, sisters and brothers, and dozens and dozens of deer mouse cousins.
Poppy invites her rebellious son, Junior, to join her on the long trip across Dimwood Forest, hoping the journey will bring them closer together.
But with Junior's skunk pal, Mephitis, and Ereth, the cantankerous porcupine, in tow—sugared slug soup!—Poppy and Junior may be in for unexpected adventure.
About the Author
Avi is the award-winning author of more than eighty-two books for young readers, ranging from animal fantasy to gripping historical fiction, picture books to young adult novels. Crispin: The Cross of Lead won the Newbery Medal, and The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and Nothing But the Truth were awarded Newbery Honors. He is also the author of the popular Poppy series. Avi lives in Denver, Colorado. Visit him online at www.avi-writer.com.
Brian Floca, in addition to being the illustrator of the books in Avi's Poppy Stories series, is the author and illustrator of the acclaimed picture books Locomotive, winner of the Caldecott Medal; Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11; Lightship; The Racecar Alphabet; and Five Trucks. You can visit him online at www.brianfloca.com.
Date of Birth:December 23, 1937
Place of Birth:New York, New York
Education:University of Wisconsin; M.A. in Library Science from Columbia University, 1964
Read an Excerpt
By Michael Avi
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Michael Avi
All right reserved.
Poppy and Rye Visit Ereth
"Sugared slug soup," said Ereth the porcupine without looking up from the lump of salt over which he was slobbering. "I don't believe it."
"I'm afraid it's true," said the deer mouse Poppy to her old friend. "It's very upsetting. The kind of thing that makes me wonder if I've been a bad parent."
Poppy and her husband, Rye, a golden mouse, had gone over to Ereth's smelly hollow log for a talk. The closest of friends, they lived deep within Dimwood Forest, where the tall trees reached into the sweet air and carpeted the earth below with soft shadows.
"Now Poppy," said Rye, "the rest of our children are doing fine."
Poppy sighed. "I suppose one failure out of a litter of eleven isn't bad," she said. Her round, white belly had grown plump of late. Though her eyes were usually bright and her whiskers full, now those eyes appeared rather dull and full of worry, while her whiskers were somewhat limp.
"You made your first mistake by naming him Ragweed Junior," Ereth grumbled between licks of salt. "Most juniors," he said, "resent the name. Or should."
"I wish he did resent it," said Poppy. "Junior's problem is that he loves being a new Ragweed."
"Gangrenous gym shorts," said Ereth. "Was there ever a mouse -- dead or alive -- who caused more fuss than the first Ragweed?"
"I'm afraid," said Rye, "Junior wants to be what he thinks Ragweed was. It's all those stories he's heard about my brother."
"Though of course," Poppy said, "Junior never knew Ragweed. All he knows is that Ragweed was unusual." She reached out, took Rye's paw, and squeezed it with affection. "It was Ragweed who brought us together. And if it hadn't been for him," she reminded Ereth, "I doubt you and I would have met."
"I suppose," said Ereth. He put his salt lump down reluctantly. "Just what the flea fudge has Junior done?"
"He used to be a cheerful, chatty, wonderfully open young mouse," said Poppy. "Nowadays it's a constant frown."
"If I say yes," Rye went on, pulling at his long whiskers, "he says no. If I say no, he says yes. When he says anything more than that, it's mostly 'Leave me alone.' "
"He has become rather rude," said Poppy.
"Almost impossible to get him out of bed before noon," added Rye.
"I doubt," said Poppy, "that he washes his face more than once a week, even though he's constantly being reminded." Her own ears were large and dark, with a nose, toes, and tail that were pink and clean.
"And now he's completely changed his looks," said Rye, whose fur was dark orange.
"Looks!" barked Ereth. "How can a mouse change his looks?"
"You see," said Rye, with a shake of his head and a whisk of his tail, "Junior's best friend is a skunk."
The salt fell from Ereth's paws. "A skunk?"
"His name is Mephitis," Poppy explained. "We don't know much about him. Or his family. I'm afraid the problem is that he's not a very good influence. Ereth, you need to see Junior for yourself."
"Oh, toe jam on a toothpick," said Ereth. "He can't be that bad."
"The point is," said Poppy, "Junior has become a teenager."
"A teenager!" cried the porcupine. "Why the weasel wonk did you let that happen?"
"He did it on his own," said Rye, his small ears cocked forward.
"Then I'd better go unbuckle his buttons," said Ereth. With a rattle of his quills, he heaved himself up. "Where is he?"
"Probably down among the snag roots," said Rye. "He's taken to liking darkness, too."
"Just watch me, putt pockets," said Ereth. "I'll straighten him out flatter than a six-lane highway rolling through Death Valley. Be back soon. But don't touch that salt, or you'll get a quill up your snoot." Quills rattling, the porcupine clumped out of the old log and headed for the gray lifeless and topless tree in which Poppy and her family made their home.
"Good luck," Rye called after him.
"I do hope it was all right to tell Ereth about Junior," said Poppy.
"Nothing else has worked," said Rye.
"But . . . what do you think he'll do?" "I'm not sure, but I guess we'll find out pretty soon."
Excerpted from Poppy's Return by Michael Avi Copyright © 2006 by Michael Avi. Excerpted by permission.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Didn't enjoy this one as much as the others in the series. I found Poppy's teenage son annoying and had to discuss his attitudes with my son as we read this book together. It was not as light-hearted as the other books in the series.
I read Poppy, Poppy's Return, and Ragweed back to back! This little mouse is as brave as any animal. Kids of all ages will love this fast-paced, adventure.