Heartbroken over the death of her fiancé, Ragweed, Poppy, a deer mouse, journeys west through the vast Dimwood Forest to bring the sad news to Ragweed's family. But Poppy ad her prickly porcupine pal, Ereth, arrive only to discover the beavers have flooded the serene valley where Ragweed lived. Together Poppy and Ragweed's brother Rye brave kidnapping, imprisonment, and a daring rescue to fight the beavers. At the same time, Rye---who has lived in Ragweed's shadow---fights to prove himself worthy of Poppy's love.
I've read the Dimwood Forest series for eight summers and the stories have never gotten old. Poppy and Rye is a wonderful tale following three separate but equally compelling storylines: Poppy, the spunky and thoughtful young female lead, Rye, a plucky and sometimes spontaneous mouse, and Ereth, a porcupine who's discovering how much he really cares about Poppy and the lives of others than his cranky exterior shows. The book also shows how strong and brave Rye's parents and siblings can be, and moments of compassion for others and a vigor for sticking for what's right abounds. Poppy and Rye's love story is sweet and self-sacrificing, just right for a young audience.
Another talking animal adventure, to be sure, but this one's a little more mature (and better) than your generic example. It has decent characters, some excitement (though a little less than some of the other entries in the series), and it sometimes explores more serius subject matter than you woud expect.
Among the other books, if Poppy was the most serious "dark" chapter, and Ragweed was the personality-driven "fun" chapter, this one is probably the "sweet" chapter; the author puts some heart into the subplots that close the lingering issues from Poppy and doesn't play it cute, which makes for a satisfying ending.
The story is very sweet and fun. But what I did not like was the fact that Valerian and Clover showed favoritism towards Ragweed, constantly comparing him to Rye, which Rye did not like. Its hardly a wonder he took the risk he did. Of course he also did it to prove himself worthy of Poppy's love.
- Reading Age: 8+
- Reading Aloud Age: Possibly 7+
The beavers (the enemies in the book) are often rude and blantantly disregarding of the mice in the book, slapping their tails in the mice's direction and using their teeth. The most rigorous fight scene is near the end of the book, where the mice employ sticks to poke the beavers with, the beavers use their tails and teeth, and Ereth slaps his quills into a beaver's nose and attacks the other beavers. Mr. Canad, the beavers' main leaders, uses such statements as, "Flatten them! Turn them into lily pads! Swat them!" during the fight.
Several scary scenes include the flooding of the mice's first home, Rye being caught, shoved into a small cage of sticks, and mocked and blackmailed by the beavers (they imply that he may be killed if his parents refuse to move their second home for them to continue work on their pond). One chapter deals with the heartbreak that comes when Poppy breaks the news to Ragweed's family of his death. Several times the mice go undercover on the pond at night and are toppled into the water by beavers passing by.
Ereth uses non-swear words to bemoan his life, such as 'spider spit', 'duck dapple', 'mouse frickets' and 'shove crabgrass up their snoots'. He rages against Poppy and Ragweed in one chapter, saying 'he hates Ragweed, love and Poppy'.
Scary illustrations include beavers lurking around Rye's cage, Mr. Canad coming up a hill threatingly toward Poppy, and beavers slapping at mice during the battle.