Saturday, September 10, 2011



by Avi
Harper Trophy
978 0 380 72769 8

This is one of those classics I've always thought I should read, and a favourite of many. It finally jumped off a shelf at me, and I took it home (no really, it did, when I pulled down something else for a patron!).

It's not the first of the series, as I had figured it would be, but a followup to Ragweed. Thankfully, it is not necessary to have read the first book to enjoy this one, and I really didn't feel that I was missing much background starting here.

Poppy is a small mouse who lives in a field under the sadistic control of an owl who restricts their movements and eats them for any infraction. Not that he wouldn't eat them anyhow, but he enjoys their terror and gives them the illusion of safety and choice to play with them. Terrible stuff, but handled deftly, this.

After the owl eats Poppy's boyfriend and denied her family permission to move to a larger home with more food, Poppy takes matters into her own hands, and sets out to find out more about this new home. The owl, Mr. Ocax, is both panicked and enraged by her defiance, and tries to stop her, but she allies herself with a grouchy porcupine who helps her avoid him as she finds out what has Mr. Ocax so scared and returns to her family home. By the time she gets there, she has made fast friend of Ereth the porcupine, and Mr. Ocax has died, never to harrass the mice again, who can now move as they please. The scene is set for the next book of the five-book series.

These are fantastic animal tales in the vein of Redwall or the Rats of Nimh, with the small overthrowing the mighty, and the valiant taking the day. It's got some scary bits, of course, but on the whole is written to be pretty accessible even to grade two or three kids, if they are not the easily frightened type, like my girl is.

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