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Poppy (Poppy Stories Series)

Poppy (Poppy Stories Series)

4.6 47
by Avi, Brian Floca (Illustrator)

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From acclaimed Newbery-winning author Avi comes the thrilling and heartwarming second book in the classic animal adventure series, The Tales of Dimwood Forest.

At the very edge of Dimwood Forest stood an old charred oak where, silhouetted by the moon, a great horned owl sat waiting. The owl's name was Mr. Ocax, and he looked like death himself. With his


From acclaimed Newbery-winning author Avi comes the thrilling and heartwarming second book in the classic animal adventure series, The Tales of Dimwood Forest.

At the very edge of Dimwood Forest stood an old charred oak where, silhouetted by the moon, a great horned owl sat waiting. The owl's name was Mr. Ocax, and he looked like death himself. With his piercing gaze, he surveyed the lands he called his own, watching for the creatures he considered his subjects. Not one of them ever dared to cross his path . . . until the terrible night when two little mice went dancing in the moonlight. . . .

A perennially popular story of courage and determination, Poppy is a fixture on state award lists and in classrooms across the country.

Supports the Common Core State Standards

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Newbery Honor author Avi (Tom, Babette and Simon, reviewed June 12) turns out another winner with this fanciful tale featuring a cast of woodland creatures. As ruler of Dimwood Forest, Ocax the hoot owl has promised to protect the mice occupying an abandoned farmhouse as long as they ask permission before ``moving about.'' Poppy, a timid dormouse, is a loyal, obedient subject-until she sees Ocax devour her fianc and hears the owl deny her father's request to seek new living quarters. To prove that the intimidating ruler is really a phony, Poppy embarks on a dangerous and eye-opening quest, which ends with her one-on-one battle with Ocax. While the themes about tyranny and heroism are timeless, Avi leavens his treatment with such 20th-century touches as Poppy's jive-talking boyfriend and Poppy's own romantic vision of herself as Ginger Rogers. An engaging blend of romance, suspense and parody, this fantasy is well-nigh irresistible. Illustrations not seen by PW. Ages 9-11. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5A fast-paced, allegorical animal story. Mr. Ocax is a great horned owl who rules the mice who live around Dimwood Forest, preying on their fears by promising protection from the dreaded porcupine in exchange for unconditional obedience. Challenging his despotic authority is the smart-talking, earring-sporting golden mouse Ragweed, whose refusal to obey turns him into a meal for the owl. His timid sweetheart Poppy returns home, where she learns that a delegation must go to request permission from Mr. Ocax to relocate half of the mouse family as they have outgrown their present quarters. When he refuses, Poppy, inspired by Ragweed's independent thinking, decides to undertake the scouting journey to the proposed new home anyway, encountering along the way an irreverent porcupine who explains that he and his ilk are no threat to mice. Armed with Ragweed's earring, a quill sword, and the awareness of the owl's deception, she plans to expose Ocax as a cowardly bully. She finds herself in a fierce battle with him, resulting in his death and allowing for the mice's liberation. This exciting story is richly visual, subtly humorous, and skillfully laden with natural-history lessons. The anthropomorphism is believable and the characters are memorable. The underlying messages, to challenge unjust authority and to rely on logic and belief in oneself, are palatably blended with action and suspense. Black-and-white illustrations are in keeping with the changing moods and forest locale. A thoroughly enjoyable book.Marie Orlando, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Poppy Stories Series
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.50(d)
670L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Mr. Ocax

A thin crescent moon, high in the sky, shed faint white light over Dimwood Forest. Stars glowed. Breezes full of ripe summer fragrance floated over nearby meadow and hill. Dimwood it self, veiled in darkness, lay utterly still.

At the very edge of this forest stood an old charred oak on which sat a great horned owl. The owl's name was Mr. Ocax, and he looked like death himself.

Mr. Ocax's eyes-flat upon his face were round and yellow with large ebony pupils that enabled him to see as few other creatures could. Moon light even faint moonlight-was as good as day light for him.

With his piercing gaze, Mr. Ocax surveyed the lands he called his own, watching for the comings and goings of the creatures he considered his subjects-and his dinners. ~e looked at Glitter Creek, home to the fish he found so appetizing, the Tar Road, across which tasty rabbits were known to hop; Jayswood, where meaty chipmunks some times skittered before dawn. By swiveling his head he searched the Marsh for a savory frog, then New Field, where, usually, he could count on a delicious vole or two. He looked at Gray House, where Farmer Lamout used to live, then upon the Old Orchard. He even looked, nervously, toward New House. But nowhere did he see a thing to eat. Profoundly annoyed, Mr. Ocax was beginning to think he would have no dinner that night.

But finally, there near the top of Bannock Hill, where the ponderosa pines had all been cut, where only a few struggling saplings and bushes grew- he saw movement. Just the glimmer of food was enough to cause his owl's heart to pound, his curved black beak to clack, his feathered horns to stand uptall.

Mr. Ocax shifted his head from right to left, for ward and back. When he did so, he beheld . . . two mice! Of all the creatures the owl hunted, he enjoyed mice the most. They were the best eating, to be sure, but better still, they were the most fearful, and Mr. Ocax found deep satisfaction in having others afraid of him. And here, after a wait of nearly the whole night, were two savory subjects to terrify before he ate them.

One of the two, a deer mouse, crouched cautiously beneath a length of rotten bark. The other, a golden mouse, stood in the open on his hind legs, his short tail sticking straight out behind for

Ragweed laughed. "Dude, you must think I'm as dull as a dormouse. You just want to get some of this nut."

I don't want any of your precious nut," Poppy insisted. "I want to give you my answer. And I want to dance! Isn't that the reason we came up the hill? Only it's not safe out there."

"Oh, tell me about it."

"You heard my father's warnings," Poppy went on. "It's Mr. Ocax. He might be watching and listening."

"Get off," Ragweed sneered. "Your pop talks about that Ocax dude just to scare you and keep you under control."

"Ragweed," Poppy cried, "that's ridiculous. Mr. Ocax does rule Dimwood. So we have to ask his permission to be here. And you know perfectly well we never did."

"Dude, I'm not going to spend my life asking an old owl's okay every time I want to have fun. Know what I'm saying? This is our moment, girl, right? And now that I've dug this nut up, I'm going to enjoy it. Besides," he said, "it's too dark for an old owl to see me.""POPPY," Mr. Ocax scoffed under his breath. "Ragweed What stupid names mice have. Now, if only that deer mouse will move just a little farther out from under cover, I'll be able to snare both mice at once."

The mere thought of such a double catch made Mr. Ocax hiss with pleasure. Then he clacked his beak, spread his wings, and rose into the night air. Up he circled, his fluted flight feathers beating the air silently.

High above Bannock Hill, he looked down. The golden mouse the one eating the nut-was still in the open. So brazen. So foolish. Nevertheless, Mr. Ocax decided to hold back another moment to see if the deer mouse might budge.

"RAGWEED," Poppy pleaded, "please get under here."

"Girl," Ragweed said, "do you know what your problem is? You let your tail lead the way."

Poppy, hurt and wanting to show she was not a coward, poked her nose and whiskers out from under the bark. "Ragweed," she persisted even as she began to creep into the open, "being careless is stupid."

Her friend took another scrape of the nut and sighed with pleasure. "Poppy," he said, "you may be my best girl, but admit it, you don't know how to live like I do."

Poppy took two more steps beyond the bark.

Just then, Mr. Ocax pulled his wings close to his body and plunged.- In an instant he was right above and behind the two mice. Once there, he threw out his wings-to brake his speed; pulled back his head-to protect his eyes; and thrust his claws forward and wide like grappling hooks-to pounce.

It was Poppy who saw him. "Ragweed!" she shrieked in terror as she hurled herself back undercover. "It's Ocax!"

But the owl was already upon them. Down came his right claw. It scratched the tip of Poppy's nose. Down came his left claw. It was more successful, clamping around Ragweed's head and neck like a vise of needles, killing him instantly. The next moment the owl soared back into the air. A lifeless Ragweed earring glittering in the moonlight- hung from a claw. As for the hazelnut, it fell to the earth like a cold stone.

Powerful but leisurely strokes brought Mr. Ocax back to his watching tree. Once there, he shifted the dead Ragweed from talon to beak in one gulp. The mouse disappeared down his throat, earring and all.

His hunger momentarily satisfied, Mr. Ocax tilted back his head and let forth a long, low cry of triumph. "Whooo-whooo!"

Poppy did not hear the call. In her terror she had fainted. Now she lay unconscious beneath the length of rotten bark.

The owl did not mind. He had enjoyed the first mouse so much he decided to wait for the second. Indeed, Mr. Ocax was not entirely sorry that Poppy had escaped. She was terrified, and he enjoyed that. And for sure, he would get her soon. "Oh yes," he murmured to himself, "mice are the most fun to catch." Then Mr. Ocax did that rare thing for an owl: He smiled. Poppy. Copyright © by John Avi. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Avi is the award-winning author of more than seventy-five 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 outside Denver, Colorado. You can visit him online at www.avi-writer.com.

Brian Floca's illustrations have appeared in several books by Avi, including the six volumes of the Poppy stories and the graphic novel City of Light, City of Dark. For younger readers, he is the author and illustrator of Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo II as well as the highly praised books Lightship, a Robert F. Sibert Honor Book and ALA Notable Book; The Racecar Alphabet, also an ALA Notable Book; and Five Trucks.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
December 23, 1937
Place of Birth:
New York, New York
University of Wisconsin; M.A. in Library Science from Columbia University, 1964

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4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 47 reviews.
Anonymous24 More than 1 year ago
Have you been looking for a good short book to read well this is the book for you. It's about a little deer mouse named Poppy. Mr. Ocax, an owl was supposedly protecting Poppy and her family from porcupines Poppy's family wants to move to a new house. They went to Mr. Ocax to ask if they could move, but he said no. Well see Mr. Ocax is like in charge of them. Even that he said no, that didn't stop Poppy. Poppy goes on her way to find the new house, but on the way she meets some new friends and she finds out a lot along the way. It's a very good short book I give it five stars, because it has some humor and it has a good life lesson learned. I loved the writing in the book, and i like how the story fit together and how it grabbed me and pulled me into it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Poppy as a read aloud for my third grade students. The first chapter grabs the student's attention and they beg me to read more. Avi does a fantastic job of creating believable characters. My students love Ereth! I love the fact that this little mouse is the heroine despite overwhelming odds. Not only do my students love this story, I love to read it to them.
breathless More than 1 year ago
If you're looking for a simple, funny story, Poppy is a great book. Best for readers of a young age, but also enjoyed by older readers, it is great for reading just for fun, but also for learning about life. Avi's destinctive style makes this book unforgettable and engaging.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
just an awesome book! i was in 6 grade and my teacher read this book aloud to the class. i feel ion love with this book and its charaters! its turly one of my favorites!! im in tenth grade now and still love it and think every one should read this!!!
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The book is awesome! It's sad, happy, and has a wonderful ending. I would recomend this book to anybody in the whole world! I would also like to thank Avi and Brian Floca for writing and drawing pictures in this book.
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MakikoMS More than 1 year ago
This book is--kind of terrifying for young readers. I mean, an owl puking out the remains of a mouse? Not good. I think this book is for readers ages 12-Whatever. YUCK...
Guest More than 1 year ago
Usually I am not a reader of books with talking animals, but this book caught my interest immediately. The story is so compelling and the main character, Poppy, is so loveable, that you will not be able to put this down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was so good. My mom told me to read it a long time ago and I wish i listened to her. This book is really good if you like books about animals and suspence!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was about 10 when I first read this book. Actually, it's was the first novel I ever completed. And I personally thought the book was great, I had a hard time putting it down. I would read it during the middle of class, and read past my bed time. Anyways Poppy is indeed a great book and I recommend it to anybody ages 8 - 12. Two thumbs up!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought that this was an awsome book. I couldn't put it down. You should definetly read this book!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
   When I read this novel, I thought it was great. From the beginning, I knew it was going to be good. I think this book is for young readers who love fun adventures. I never read other stories made AVI like Crispin, but I'm sure that they are good. I am surely glad I read this book. It is about a mouse and an owl. The mouse's name is Poppy, who is trying to move half his family into a new house, but Mr. Ocax (the owl) declined the proposal from the mice. Poppy's family understands bad stuff and that is why they have a good family. In every chapter, BAM, there is a cool thing happening. Trust me, you will like this writing. In this story, I felt like one of the main characters, Poppy. BANG, BOOK, BANG! This is the best story I ever read and the same thing will happen to you. I read other good fantasy novel. This one is better though. I gave the other books 4 out of 5 stars but I gave Poppy 5 out of 5 stars. This is such a great story. I really love it because it is a fun adventure. I think children any age should read this novel. Would this tiny deer mouse outsmart and outwit this mean owl? Read this book to find out.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Poppy is an icredible book for people of all ages. I loved this book because it was a situation portrayed through the eyes of a deer mouse, who had gone over some trauma recently. Her boyfriend died and Mr. Ocax was responsible. Poppy, now scared tries to avoid Ocax, the 'Ruler' of Dimwood forest, because she fears, that he might eat her too! What will happen to Poppy? Read the BOOK to find your answer.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Poppy is an excellent book, reccomended for those of all ages. Personally I thought that this book portrayed lessons fiendship, acts of bravery, through a mouse. Many people could learn a thing or two just by reading the last chapters- but no one should ever do that because this book is so extrordinarilly wonderful!
Guest More than 1 year ago