cover image Poppy Louise Is Not Afraid of Anything

Poppy Louise Is Not Afraid of Anything

Jenna McCarthy, illus. by Molly Idle. Random House, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-385-39086-6

The narrative nut of this book is found not in the title but on the third page. “The problem is,” writes McCarthy (Lola Knows a Lot), “none of Poppy’s friends are as brave as she is.” That means Poppy’s fearlessness is repeatedly quashed: “How do we get up on your roof?” she asks her friend Finn. “We don’t,” Finn responds without looking up from his book. Poppy’s family errs on the side of caution, too—Mom nixes a nighttime hike—and Poppy’s sister, Petunia, adds a touch of resentment to the dynamic. But Poppy’s spirit is never crushed, nor does her attitude turn disdainful (“Rats” is all she says to Finn’s brushoff). Idle (the Flora books) vivaciously catalogues the exploits of a girl as resilient as she is brave. Unfortunately, McCarthy doesn’t quite know what to do with her heroine: the story wraps up with Poppy stranded in a tree and needing the assistance of her friends. Sure, it’s hard to be courageous and imaginative 24/7, but giving Poppy a comeuppance seems unfair and unnecessary. Ages 3–7. [em]Author’s agent: Laurie Abkemeier, DeFiore and Company. Illustrator’s agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words. (Apr.) [/em]