The fourth book in the beloved Poppy series by Newbery Medal–winning author Avi, with illustrations from Caldecott Medal–winning artist Brian Floca.
Erethizon Dorsatum—better known as Ereth, the self-centered, foul-tempered old porcupine—is having a birthday. And he fully expects his best friend Poppy, a deer mouse, to help him celebrate in a grand manner.
But Poppy has gone off somewhere with her husband, Rye, and it appears she has forgotten all about it. "Belching Beavers," says Ereth, "I am not angry!" (Though perhaps he is—and more than just a little.)
Ereth knows his special occasion deserves a special treat—even if he has to get it for himself. And what treat could be more special than tasty salt? But the nearest salt is located deep in the forest, in a cabin occupied by fur hunters, who have set out traps to capture the Dimwood Forest animals.
In one of the traps, Ereth finds Leaper the Fox—who, with her dying breath, begs the prickly porcupine to take care of her three boisterous young kits, Tumble, Nimble, and Flip. "Jellied walrus warts!" Ereth exclaims, but reluctantly agrees.
Certainly this day is not going as he planned—and it's only just the beginning! Not only does Ereth suddenly have a rambunctious new family to take care of, but he's being stalked by Marty the Fisher, the one creature in Dimwood Forest who can do him harm.
And Bounder, the father of the three little foxes, remembers all too well the nose full of quills he got a while back from the grumpy old animal who now fancies himself the leader of the den. He too sets out to show Ereth who's boss.
Throw in an unexpected snowstorm, and all in all, it adds up to one birthday Ereth the porcupine is never going to forget, not even if he lives to be a hundred and twenty-two!
About 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.
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
In Dimwood Forest, in the dark, smelly log where the old porcupine Erethizon Dorsatum lived, Ereth-as he preferred to call himself-woke slowly.
Not the sweetest smelling of creatures, Ereth had a flat face with a blunt, black nose and fierce, grizzled whiskers. As he stirred, he rattled his sharp if untidy quills, flexed his claws, yawned, frowned, and grumbled, "Musty moose marmalade," only to suddenly remember what day it was and smile. Today was his birthday.
Ereth had given very little thought to what he would do about the day. As far as he was concerned, his birthday meant others would be doing something for him. And the one he was quite certain would be doing all the providing was his best friend, Poppy.
Poppy, a deer mouse, lived barely an acorn toss from Ereth's log in a gray, lifeless tree-a snag with a hole on one side. She resided there with her husband, Rye, and their eleven children.
Ereth, in a very private sort of way, loved Poppy. He had never told anyone about this love, not even her. Enough for him to live near her. But since the porcupine was certain that Poppy thought of him as her best friend, he assumed she would be making a great fuss over his birthday. A party, certainly. Lavish gifts, of course. Best of all, he would be the center of attention.
So it was that when Ereth waddled out of his log that morning he was surprised not to find Poppy waiting for him. All he saw were her eleven children playing about the base of the snag, squeaking and squealing uproariously.
"Why can't young folks ever be still?" A deeply disappointed Ereth complained to himself. "Pottedpockets of grizzly grunions, it would save so much trouble if children were born . . . old."
Agitated, he approached the young mice. "Where's your mother?" he barked. "Where's your wilted wet flower of a father?"
"They . . . went . . . looking for . . . something," one of them said.
Though Ereth's heart sank, he made a show of indifference by lifting his nose scornfully and moving away from the young mice.
Snowberry, one of the youngsters, glanced anxiously around at the others, then cried out, "Good morning, Uncle Ereth!"
This greeting was followed by the ten other young mice singing out in a ragged, squeaky chorus, "Good morning, Uncle Ereth!"
Ereth turned and glowered at the youngsters. "What the tiddlywink toes do you want?" he snapped.
"Aren't you going to stay and play with us, Uncle Ereth?" Snowberry called.
"I'm . . . busy."
"You don't look busy."
"I'm trying to find some peace and quiet," Ereth snapped. "With all the noise you make, buzzard breath, what else do you think I'd be doing?"
One of the mice-her name was Columbine-slapped a paw over her mouth in order to keep from laughing out loud.
Ereth glared at her. "What are you laughing at?"
"You," Columbine sputtered. "You always say such funny things!"
"Listen here, you smidgen of slipper slobber," Ereth fumed. "Don't tell me I talk funny. Why don't you stuff your tiny tail into your puny gullet and gag yourself before I flip youinto some skunk-cabbage sauce and turn you into a pother of butterfly plunk?"
Instead of frightening the young mice, Ereth's outburst caused them to howl with glee. Sassafras laughed so hard he fell down and had to hold his stomach. "Uncle Ereth," he cried, "you are so hilarious! Please say something else!"
"Belching beavers!" Ereth screamed. "I am not hilarious! You're just a snarl of runty seed suckers with no respect for anyone older than you. How about a little consideration? As far as I'm concerned you mice have as much smarts as you could find in a baby bee's belly button."
"But you are funny, Uncle Ereth," cried another of the young mice, whose name was Walnut. "Nobody else talks like you do. We love it when you swear and get angry at us."
"I am not angry!" Ereth raged. "If I were angry, I'd turn you all into pink pickled pasta so fast it would make lightning look like a slow slug crawling up a slick hill. So listen up, you tub of tinsel twist."
This was too much for the young mice. They laughed and squeaked till their sides ached.
"Uncle Ereth," said Sassafras between giggles, "please-please-say something funny again. You are the funniest animal in the whole forest!"
Staring wrathfully at the young mice, Ereth considered uttering something unbelievably disgusting-dangling doggerels-thought better of it, and wheeled about, heading north as fast as he could.
"Uncle Ereth!" the mice shouted after him. "Please stay and say something else funny. Please don't go!"
But Ereth refused to stop.
Sassafras watched the porcupine plunge into the forest, then turned to the others. "But what are we going to tell Mom and Dad?" he cried. "They told us to make sure he didn't go anywhere."
"Oh, don't worry," Columbine assured her brother. "Uncle Ereth always comes back."Ereth's Birthday. Copyright (c) by Avi . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Table of Contents
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Animal story - porcupine takes care of some foxes.
I love Avi's Dimwood Forest series and I think Ereth's birthday is my favorite. I read this aloud to two of my boys and we laughed out loud at the scene with ole' Ereth and the hunter on the snow mobile
Ereth happens upon a mother fox caught in a trap who pleads with him to look after her kits. After she dies Ereth, much to his chagrin, accepts the task but unbeknownst to him he is being stalked by Marty the Fisher. This is top-notch animal fantasy, it doesn't get much better than this! The fourth in a series is just as incredible as the previous entries. This book can also be read independently from the series (or out of order) as it revolves around a different character than the others. The 7yo was captivated with this book, he couldn't wait each day for our reading and I was cajoled into reading 3 chapters a day instead of our usual two. We laughed, we cried, we highly recommend this book!
My Third Grader read all five books ,she loved everyone. We are collecting all of the books written by Avi.
I liked the book because it was said, exciting, and happy. It was said because the foxes mom dies. It was ecxiting because the end where the foxes save Ereth. It was happy because Ereth does not leave the foxes
This book is very funny (at least to me). It includes high details, good moral, and a good plot. It is one of the best story I have ever read. Avi is a good writer so I reccomend you to read this book
THIS BOOK IS FUNNY YOU WILL FALL OF YOUR CHAIR LAUGHING THIS BOOK IS VERY FUNNY YOU SOULD READ THIS BOOK.
I got hooked on this series in the beginning of 4th grade and I'm so glad I did! Ereth really is a true hero and really deserves his present at the end. I would definately have him as my hero.