cover image Ragweed


Avi. HarperCollins, $17.99 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-380-97690-4

Consummate storyteller Avi outdoes himself in this prequel to Poppy and Poppy and Rye, cutting loose with a crackerjack tale that's pure delight from start to finish. Here Ragweed, the adventurous mouse with whom Poppy is destined for a tragic romance, hops a train and heads for the bright lights of the big city. The hip urban setting hops with adventure and memorable characters, from the punk-haired mouse Clutch, who plays lead guitar for the Be-Flat Tires at the Cheese Squeeze Club, to Silversides, the malevolent puss president of F.E.A.R. (""Felines Enraged About Rodents""). Ragweed is wowed by the excitement of Amperville, with its abundance of ""human nests,"" and quickly evolves from bumpkin to city slicker, picking up the lingo and mastering the ""high four"" paw slap. But cat-mouse hostilities escalate, with the cats destroying the Cheese Squeeze Club (the mice set up a new hang-out in an abandoned building once known as The Last Independent Bookstore). Ragweed rallies his fellow mice to lead a revolt against F.E.A.R. in a triumphant ending that finds the cats literally all washed up. Fueled with a mixture of outrageous puns and sly witticisms, this is, as Clutch would say, one totally awesome tale. High four! Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8-12. (May)