The sixth book in the beloved Poppy series by Newbery Medal–winning author Avi, with illustrations from Caldecott Medal–winning artist Brian Floca
Has Ereth lost Poppy forever?
Poppy, a deer mouse, has spent the long winter curled up inside her tree snag home in Dimwood Forest. When the ground thaws and life returns to the woods, Poppy sets out in search of excitement.
Suddenly, swooped up by Luci the bat, Poppy is flying high over the forest. Meanwhile, Poppy’s best friend, Ereth the grumbling porcupine, who was with Poppy when she vanished, is convinced that she has died. He sets out to give her the best funeral ever.
Can Poppy find her way out of the bats’ cave to set Ereth straight and return home after the adventure of a lifetime?
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
Poppy and Ereth
The Hard Winter
It was a hard winter in Dimwood Forest. Tem-peratures were low, snows deep, nights long, and the winds sharp. Most forest animals remained tucked away in their underground homes, burrows, and caves, sleeping or eating the food they had stored the summer before. It was that way, too, with Poppy and Rye, who kept close and warm deep down among the roots of their old snag, a tall, broken tree stump.
Poppy, an elderly deer mouse, had curled herself up into a plump ball of tan fur, her tail wrapped about so that it touched the tip of her pink nose. She was chatting with her husband, Rye, about some of the events of the past year: their good life together; guiding and watching their children grow and begin families of their own; her visit to her old home, Gray House; renewing acquaintances with relatives; and happy times with Ereth the porcupine.
As she talked, Rye, a golden mouse, was lying on his back, eyes closed, paws beneath his head, tail occasionally twitching. He was listening to Poppy even as he was contemplating a new poem, something about the cold winter and the past summer.
"It's no good," Rye said quite suddenly while coming to his feet.
"What's no good?" asked Poppy, thinking he was referring to her talk about the family picnic last autumn.
"If I'm going to write anything decent about winter," Rye declared, "I need to get out there and experience it."
"It's awfully cold," Poppy reminded him, perfectly aware that such practical notions would make no difference to Rye, not when he was thinking about a poem. "I think there's a storm."
"Won't be a moment," said Rye, and he headed for the steps that led to ground level. When he reached the snag's open entryway, however, the storm's bitter cold struck with such force that it momentarily took his breath away. Not to be deterred, Rye pushed through the snow that had drifted in, and stepped outside.
It was difficult to see anything. The snow, bright and whirling, made the land indistinguishable from the sky. Even the forest trees appeared to be trembling shadows. As for sound, the only thing Rye could hear was the yowl of the wind.
"Wonderful . . . ," he murmured, even as he shivered and stepped forward, sinking deeply into a soft, powdery drift.
He brushed the flakes from his eyelashes, and they danced before his eyes like tiny, sparkling diamonds.
"Beautiful," he murmured.
Rye began to burrow forward with his front paws. As he tunneled into the snow, the sounds of the wind faded. The light turned a dull gray. The cold softened. It was as if he were in a cocoon made of winter.
Suddenly he halted. Embedded in the icy tunnel wall was a perfectly preserved green leaf.
"Oh my!" Rye whispered, gazing at the leaf with joy. "It's from last summer!" Rye remained looking at the leaf for a long while. Only when his toes started to become numb did he turn and scurry back down into the snag.
"I think I've got a good poem," he announced as he returned to Poppy. "I'm going to call it 'Ice Leaf.'" He threw himself down on his back and closed his eyes.
After a few moments he asked, "Do you have any more of your mix?"
"What mix?" said Poppy.
"That peppermint, elderberry, and honey mix. You know, for coughs."
Poppy's brow furrowed. "Why?"
"Slight tingle in the old throat," muttered Rye, as he concentrated on his poem.
That night a fierce new storm swept in. The wind roared. The temperature plummeted. The two mice snuggled together for warmth. From somewhere far-off they heard a fox baying and an owl hooting.
Next morning, when Rye woke, his throat was very sore. He was coughing, too, coughing badly.Poppy and Ereth. Copyright © by James Avi. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.