Erethizon Dorsatum--better known as Ereth, the self-centered, foul-tempered old porcupine--is having a birthday. And he fully expects his best friend Poppy, a deer mouse, to help him celebrate in a grand manner. But Poppy has gone off somewhere with her husband, Rye, and it appears she has forgotten all about it. "Belching Beavers," says Ereth, "I am not angry!" (Though, perhaps he is--and more than just a little.)
Ereth knows his special occasion deserves a special treat--even if he has to get it for himself. And what treat could be more special than tasty salt? But the nearest salt is located deep in the forest, in a cabin occupied by fur hunters, who have set out traps to capture the Dimwood Forest animals. In one of the traps, Ereth finds Leaper the Fox--who, with her dying breath, begs the prickly porcupine to take care of her three boisterous young kits, Tumble, Nimble, and Flip. "Jellied walrus warts!" Ereth exclaims, but reluctantly agrees.
Certainly this day is not going as he planned--and it's only just the beginning! Not only does Ereth suddenly have a rambunctious new family to take care of, but he's being stalked by Marty the Fisher, the one creature in Dimwood Forest who can do him harm. And Bounder, the father of the three little foxes, remembers all too well the nose full of quills he got a while back from the grumpy old animal who now fancies himself the leader of the den. He too sets out to show Ereth who's boss. Throw in an unexpected snowstorm, and all in all, it adds up to one brithday Ereth the porcupine is never going to forget, not even if he lives to be a hundred and twenty-two!
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"Helping others!" Ereth the porcupine snarls viciously. "Being good! It's all broccoli bunk and tick toffee."
On a birthday that he suspects everyone has forgotten, the last thing this grumpy old porcupine wants is to get involved in a sticky fox family predicament. But just as he's about to take a mouthful of his favorite treat, salt, he hears a weak voice calling for help, and his conscience trumps his desire. Soon he's embroiled in his worst nightmare: leaving his comfortable home to act as caretaker of three energetic, chatty, newly motherless fox kits. His longing for his stinky log home next door to his best friend, Poppy the mouse, lessens somewhat as he gets down to the business of keeping the young foxes fed and safe. Meanwhile, another four-legged hunter has his eye on Ereth, and the fox kits' father is nowhere to be found.
Avi has struck gold again with the latest addition the Dimwood Forest series. Hard life lessons and hilarious gems from Ereth's prickly lips ("fish feather fruitcakes!" "puckered peacocks!") mesh to create an entirely engaging story. Fans of Poppy, Poppy and Rye, and Avi's other highly entertaining titles will welcome the chance to meet up with their old furry and spiky friends again. (Ages 8 to 12) --Emilie CoulterAbout the Author:
Avi is the award-winning author of more than seventy-five books for young readers, ranging from animal fantasy to gripping historical fiction, picture books to young adult novels. Crispin: The Cross of Lead won the Newbery Medal, and The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and Nothing But the Truth were awarded Newbery Honors. He is also the author of the popular Poppy series. Avi lives outside Denver, Colorado. You can visit him online at www.avi-writer.com.
Brian Floca's illustrations have appeared in several books by Avi, including the six volumes of the Poppy stories and the graphic novel City of Light, City of Dark. For younger readers, he is the author and illustrator of Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo II as well as the highly praised books Lightship, a Robert F. Sibert Honor Book and ALA Notable Book; The Racecar Alphabet, also an ALA Notable Book; and Five Trucks.
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