by Avi

Unconditional Recommendation: A little mouse discovers the truth and her courage when she defies the menacing great horned owl and journeys out of bounds to find a new home for her family.

Age: Middle Grade
Series: The Poppy Books, Book Three
Pages: 163
Published: 1995
Genre: Fantasy, Animal

Awards: Boston GlobeHorn Book Best Fiction Award (1996), New Mexico’s Children Choice Award (1999), National Christian School Association, Crown Classic (1998), Maryland’s Children’s Choice Award (1998), ALA Notable (1996)

A charming read. It would be great as a read-aloud book or a book for a kid to read before bed. Animal stories are endearing and long lasting for a reason, and The Poppy Books help make the genre as beloved as it is by young readers.

Internal Chronological Order
  1. Ragweed
  2. Ragweed & Poppy
  3. Poppy
  4. Poppy & Rye
  5. Ereth’s Birthday
  6. Poppy’s Return
  7. Poppy & Ereth
Publication Order
  1. Poppy (1995)
  2. Poppy & Rye (1998)
  3. Ragweed (2000)
  4. Poppy’s Return (2005)
  5. Ereth’s Birthday (2006)
  6. Poppy & Ereth (2009)
  7. Ragweed & Poppy (2020)
Summary from the Publisher

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…

Enduring Themes

The theme of courage permeates the whole story. I love that Poppy has to branch out, leaving all she’s known and not only stepping into the unknown but also deliberately stepping toward her fears. A little mouse with little experience and little smarts against a cunning owl, all for the sake of saving her family.

Goodness and Truth

Her friend, Ragweed, taught Poppy how to think and question. The mice have been going along with what they’ve been told and they don’t realize that it’s literally killing them. The devious owl has trapped them in lies. Along Poppy’s journey, she is forced to question and confront the lies. The truth gives her power and sets her, and by consequence, her family free from fear.

“Just because you’re scared of someone, doesn’t mean you have to believe them.”

A Satisfying Ending

Some of the most satisfying stories come full circle—the end gives a nod to the beginning. This story does exactly that in a beautiful scene.

Books Like This: Redwall by Brian Jacques
Where to Find this Book: Amazon* or your local library!

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