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 . . .
Behind the Book
There are six books in the Poppy series, but Poppy, which is the second in the sequence, is the first book I wrote.
At the time I was living in Oregon. One day, in the University bookstore, I came upon a book by a naturalist. He recounted how he had found an abandoned baby owl in the forest. He brought it back home, restored it to health, and then taught it how to return to the wilderness. The book had much to do with owls, too. I found it quite fascinating, and decided to write a book with an owl as the main character. Enter Mr. Ocax.
But as often happens when I write, my interest began to shift and evolve, and it was Poppy, the deer mouse Mr. Ocax wished to eat, who really caught my interest.
Along the way I discovered Ereth. People do ask me how I came to create that character. The best way I can explain it is he was built so as to be opposite Poppy. Where she is sweet, cheerful and optimistic, he is rough, grumpy and full of foreboding. What they do share are hearts full of love.
As for Ereth’s inventive language, I can’t really say how that came about except to suggest that porcupines are, well, prickly.
Awards and Honors
Boston Globe-Horn Book Best Fiction Award, 1996
Listen to Avi read from Poppy.
"Newbery Honor author Avi turns out another winner with this fanciful tale featuring a cast of woodland creatures. . . . While the themes about tyranny and heroism are timeless, Avi leavens his treatment with such 20th-century touches as Poppy's jive-talking boyfriend and Poppy's own romantic vision of herself as Ginger Rogers. An engaging blend of romance, suspense and parody, this fantasy is well-nigh irresistible."
There's a teaching guide available for all of the Poppy books.