It was 1993, and I was living for a few months in Corvallis, Oregon. Wandering into a bookstore, I found a remaindered book about owls. Finding it fascinating, I resolved to write a book about these wonderful birds. That’s why the book I was composing began with a Mr. Ocax, a nasty owl.
(At some point I gave that owl book to a fellow writer and lost track of both her and the book. Alas, I can’t tell you—or myself—its title.)
When I started to write, I quickly shifted my interest to the mouse whom that Owl was going to eat. Her name was “Pip.”
Back in my (then) hometown of Providence, Rhode Island, I read a final draft of the book to a fourth-grade class in the Moses Brown School. A student showed me a book about a mouse named Pip. I changed the name of my mouse to Poppy.
On September 1, 1995, Poppy—written by me, published by Orchard Books, wonderfully illustrated by Brian Floca—was published. It vanished, becoming tangled up in a publishing crisis. What saved it was winning the Horn Book Award for that year.
In no logical order, the whole seven-book series was completed with the publication of Ragweed and Poppy in 2020. (Brian did the art for all the books) From a story point of view, it was the second tale (or tail) in the saga. The narrative order of the series is Ragweed, Ragweed & Poppy, Poppy, Poppy & Rye, Ereth’s Birthday, Poppy’s Return and Poppy & Ereth. It took twenty-five years to create. [Ragweed, at some point, was in part rewritten]
There are no books I enjoyed writing more.
These days, parents write to me that they read the books when younger and are now reading them to their youngsters.
As of May 11, 2021, the entire series will be available in paperback. Thank you, HarperCollins.
To celebrate this event, we invite readers to submit questions (in the comments below) about the series, or any one of the books. We will post answers on our various social media platforms.
Or as Ereth might say, we want you to be part of a cheesy caterwauling celebration.