POPPY & RYE, by Avi
Book Three of the Poppy Stories.
Ages 8 to 12
In Poppy, the eponymous mouse heroine lost her first love, Ragweed, and now she is journeying to tell his family of his unfortunate fate. Accompanying Poppy on her expedition is Ereth the porcupine-grumpy, smelly, foul-mouthed, and hostile to change, but a good friend under duress. Poppy meets a charming golden mouse who looks like Ragweed, and who in fact is later revealed to be his younger brother, Rye. When Poppy finds Ragweed's family, they are in the midst of a crisis: beavers have flooded their brook, forcing them to move, and even their new home is under threat. The beavers are led by Mr. Caster B. Canad, a sly takeoff on the slick-talking, amoral businessman, the master of cliché, who promises everything but gives nothing ("a stranger is just a friend you haven't met. And I mean that, sincerely"). After Rye is captured by the beavers and trapped inside their lodge, Poppy leads an expedition to save him, and his family, galvanized by Poppy's bravery, plans to destroy the dam. The final desperate and one-sided battle of mice vs. beavers is decided by the sudden appearance of Ereth, whose quills even the beavers fear. The happy ending has a slight undertone of sadness, as Ereth, a misanthropist to the core, realizes that he loves Poppy, a thought so distasteful that he complains bitterly, "Love... Nothing but slug splat stew and toad jam. Phooey." The anthropomorphic characterization is spot-on: Ereth; Rye, chafing in the shadow of his older brother; Valerian, Rye's father, who will remind some readers of Father in Robert Lawson's Rabbit Hill. Accompanied once again by Brian Floca's witty yet pastoral pencil drawings, this is a sequel worthy of its predecessor.
The spirited mouse star from Poppy must now face life after Ragweed (her fiance who was killed by an owl). Poppy and her curmudgeonly porcupine friend Ereth leave Dimwood Forest in search of Ragweed's parents to tell them the sad news so that Poppy can "get on with her life." When they finally reach their destination, they discover it's hardly the "dullsville" that Ragweed had described. In fact, his family has been forced to leave their comfortable nest and move to higher ground: a clan of development-mad beavers are flooding out the residents in their efforts to turn the pastoral backwater into "Canad's Cute Condos." Along the way, Poppy encounters Ragweed's dreamy, poetic brother Rye, and before long the two mice are head over paws in love. When a showdown between the scheming beavers and the reluctantly heroic mice puts Rye in danger, Poppy risks everything to save him. Of course, all's well that ends well in this rollicking tale, which Avi infuses with generous helpings of adventure, romance and humor. He juggles multiple story lines effortlessly, and his characterizations are particularly engaging, from the blustering Caster P. Canad ("Bless my teeth and smooth my tail!"), head of the beaver coterie, to the smart-mouthed Ereth ("Look here, you pickle-tailed fur booger"). This thoroughly enjoyable sequel is sure to please old fans and will likely win some new ones.
School Library Journal:
This novel tells the story, as promised in the final pages of Poppy, of how the courageous deer mouse met and married her husband Rye. Picking up Poppy's story after her victory over Mr. Ocax the owl, Avi chronicles her quest to find her late fiancé's family and tell them of his death in Mr. Ocax's claws. The couple meet early in her journey, but their growing love is temporarily thwarted by Rye's imprisonment within the lodge of cliché-spouting, indefatigably eager beavers. He is also hindered by his fears that he can't live up to Poppy's memories of Ragweed, who was Rye's sometimes admired, sometimes despised older brother. Unfortunately, the mouse's conflicting feelings about his brother are never clearly resolved, and Rye remains a less-developed character than Poppy, whose growth from timid to brave is one of the previous book's chief delights. Poppy and Rye also loses steam during a distracting subplot featuring Ereth the porcupine's cranky (and unrequited) love for Poppy, but it will still appeal to fans of the first book. Beth Wright.
In this sequel to Poppy, a Youth Editors' Choice '95, the intrepid deer mouse Poppy persuades her curmudgeonly porcupine friend Ereth to accompany her on a trek to tell Ragweed's family how her beloved golden mouse had met an untimely death. Although Ereth grumbles his way west, the pair eventually reach "The Brook," where the golden mouse family lives, only to discover that the family has been forced to move because the brook has been dammed by beavers ("Canad and Co. 'Progress Without Pain,' that's our motto"), and the mouse family's home has been flooded. With Poppy's planning and help, the golden mice manage to defeat the beavers, driving them away and breaking the dam. In the process, Poppy and Rye, Ragweed's brother, fall in love. The battle against the beavers is exciting: Rye is captured sneaking into the beavers' lodge and held prisoner; Poppy makes her way by raft to the lodge and enters through a vent hole and almost drowns as she escapes. As he took on the politics of power in Poppy, Avi here tackles the advance of progress for the sake of progress, no matter the consequences. With the exception of Poppy and Ereth, characters lack the fine development of those in the first book, but Poppy's fans will welcome her return and cheer her on in her new adventure. —Sally Estes.
Fans of Avi's Poppy will find this sequel an entertaining read. As readers of the first story will remember, Poppy was determined to find the family of her deceased fiancé Ragweed and let them know of his death. Poppy and Rye details Poppy's journey to the home of Ragweed's parents with her irascible porcupine friend Ereth. Avi delivers a romantic adventure to his audience when Poppy finds herself falling in love with Ragweed's younger brother Rye while at the same time helping his family survive the encroachment of a band of industrious beavers. The beavers are led by Caster P. Canad, who tosses mottoes and slogans around in the same manner that Ereth spews his opinions. Canad's "progress without pain" campaign to dam The Brook where the golden mice live leaves Rye's family fighting to survive as their home and resources are flooded. Poppy and Rye use their wits and bravely defend the rights of the golden mice to maintain their home against the more powerful beaver population. The fast-paced and dramatic fight for survival against the beavers provides a climax young readers will enjoy. Fans of Ereth's alliterative mutterings will not be disappointed either as Avi, once again, has the porcupine spouting some hilarious expressions. Readers waiting for the answers as to how Poppy and Rye met will be satisfied here. —Maura Bresnahan.