Are you making use of the Avi Reads! pages on my website? Your classroom, library group, and family can hear readings from all three Crispin books and the six Poppy books. The selections are from 1 to 14 minutes in length. Enjoy!
I find it hard to believe but it is just about twenty years ago, that Poppy was published. That book and the five other Poppy titles constitute my only true complete series. It was not meant to be a series, and indeed, I did not write them in sequence. Poppy came first, followed (belatedly) by Poppy and Rye. Then I realized I needed to relate Ragweed’s story, so I wrote his tale, and it functions as the first of the series. Ereth’s Birthday, Poppy’s Return, and finally Poppy and Ereth followed in proper order.
The process of writing them was very much more like visiting a family of whom I was fond, than sitting down and inventing a story. Perhaps that happened because there are many elements in the stories that truly did come from my family.
Then in addition, Brian Floca’s illustrations—while in many ways were necessarily consistent– seemed to reveal more and more of the characters, and that greatly enhanced the series.
Why six books, and no more? I recalled reading The Little House series to my older boys, and knew how Wilder’s six books filled out a good year of family reading. That was good enough for me. Therefore six books.
Some years ago, HarperCollins (who publishes the books) asked me to speak about them. You can see that interview.
The last line of that interview sums up what I felt about concluding the series.
Zoe, of Wausau, Wisconsin asks, “Why (in Poppy) did Ragweed have to die?”
To answer this question, Zoe, you need to know how I wrote the Poppy series. I wrote Poppy first, followed by Poppy and Rye, then Ragweed. Then came the rest of the series, Ereth’s Birthday, Poppy’s Return, and Poppy and Ereth. The point is, when I began to write Poppy I did not intend to write a series. Poppy began as a stand-alone. That book deals, in the main, with the struggle between two characters, Poppy and Mr. Ocax. As I saw it, readers needed to know that Mr. Ocax was a very dangerous creature, that Poppy had much to fear from the owl. Therefore, I briefly introduced a minor character, Ragweed, whose death by Mr. Ocax provides the book with lots of tension.
However, as I began to extend the story—as the series unfolded—the character Ragweed seemed to creep into all other books, until I felt I had to write a book about him, who he was, where he came from, and how he got that earring. It is that earring which sparks, so to speak, the last book, Poppy and Ereth. In short, though Poppy and Ereth are the main characters in the series, you might say Ragweed is just as important.
The truth is, Zoe, writers do not always know what they are doing. Sometimes—if the writer is lucky—the characters are in charge.