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Poppy's Return (Poppy Stories Series)
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Poppy's Return (Poppy Stories Series)

4.3 3
by Avi, Brian Floca (Illustrator)

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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.


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.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Avi's latest addition to his animal adventure series is a thinly-disguised fable about human relationships. Poppy, the heroine of earlier stories, is a mouse beyond prejudice. Her best friend, after all, is a rather smelly, profane porcupine. But when her posturing adolescent son, Ragweed, Junior, makes best friends with an even smellier skunk, Poppy finds her limits strained. Enter Lilly—Poppy's straight-laced sister—with a summons home. What to do but drag a protesting Junior and his skunk buddy along on the journey out of Dimwood Forest? The challenges of the journey and the homecoming stretch Poppy. They also make for a neat truce between mother and son. Of course, bulldozers, ornery Papa Lungwort presiding from his boot throne, and "doing the stinky red" play their parts as well. Kids will probably gloss over all the touchy-feely stuff and go for the action. 2005, HarperCollins, and Ages 8 to 12.
—Kathleen Karr
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-Poppy is back in Avi's fifth book (HarperCollins, 2005) in the popular The Poppy Series. Now middle-aged, Poppy and Rye are dealing with a rebellions teenaged son. Summoned home to Gray House, Poppy decides the journey might be a bonding experience, so she invites Junior along. His skunk friend, Mephitis, comes with them and, though uninvited, Ereth the porcupine tags along as well. The visit is enlightening. Junior is surprised to hear of his mother's adventurous past, and Poppy's current independence is challenged by the needs of her extended family. The family problems Poppy is asked to solve are too large for one deer mouse. Still, an accident resolves everything, perhaps a little too easily, and all ends well. Narrator John McDonough brings the characters to life, showing obvious enjoyment in the dialogue, especially Ereth's expressions. He makes this an auditory treat by letting the author's words, rather than excessive theatrics, carry the story. Although the plot is rather adult, younger listeners will be caught up in Junior's delightful rebelliousness and Ereth's colorful language, and fans of the previous books will probably find this an acceptable addition to the series.-Teresa Bateman, Brigadoon Elementary School, Federal Way, WA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Avi's intrepid deer mouse sets out for a visit home in this fifth Dimwood Forest adventure, taking along her mutinously adolescent son Ragweed Junior in hopes of promoting some bonding. The ominous news that a bulldozer (owned by the "Derrida Deconstruction Company,") has been parked next to Gray House, the ramshackle farmhouse where Poppy's pompous father and his multitudinous descendants still live, prompts the trip. Thanks to her previous exploits, Poppy arrives to a hero's welcome, but barely has time to do more than organize a frantic evacuation before, in a slapstick climax, Junior, his (literally) unsavory buddy Mephitis the skunk and trash-mouthed Ereth the porcupine manage to start up the 'dozer and convert the house into a pile of kindling-which is to say, a mouse condo. The plot, though, takes second fiddle to the author's proposition that parents too can be "Sick," (i.e., cool) and teens, despite unappealing personal habits, not quite as hopeless as they might seem. Well, it's a worthy thought, and, well supplied with Floca's ground-level vignettes, agreeably presented. (Fiction. 10-12)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Poppy Stories Series
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
7.60(w) x 5.18(h) x 0.53(d)
650L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Poppy's Return

By Michael Avi

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Michael Avi
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060000139

Chapter One

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.
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.

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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Poppy's Return 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.