Review Detail

Kids Fiction 514
animal-themed middle grade
Overall rating 
 
3.5
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
3.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
4.0
RAGWEED AND POPPY is an interesting middle grade novel that follows Ragweed, a mouse who is on a journey. Ragweed is on a train when a baby raccoon joins. Lotar, the baby raccoon, wants his mother, as he had wandered off while she was sleeping in search of food. He is now sad and scared. Ragweed is reluctant to help him, but he does decide to help him get back to his mother. Once he has accomplished that, he hears someone else in trouble.

Unable to ignore them, he goes and finds another mouse in a trap, Poppy. The trap is tricky, and so to help her, he will need others to assist. Poppy tells him about her family that lives in the Gray House, and he goes to request their help to free her. Although Poppy's father, the patriarch of the mice at Gray House, refuses to assist, some of Poppy's extended family join Ragweed to save her. Along the way, they will need to use Ragweed's cunning and ideas to get to her safely. The rescue mission goes a bit awry, and then Ragweed is in need of help.

What I loved: The story is action-packed and moves quickly. There are several illustrations throughout that really add to the story and show key scenes. This book would work for young chapter book readers who love animals.

What left me wanting more: Although Ragweed helps others, he is really rude and insulting, particularly to Lotar, who is a young and scared raccoon. Ragweed has no sympathy and frequently calls him names such as idiot, which is not a great example to set for children. I understand that older children might be frustrated by younger children, but the lack of empathy is hard to read.

Final verdict: Overall, RAGWEED AND POPPY would be a good choice for early chapter book readers who like animals. Would be cautious regarding the lack of empathy and reluctant help of Ragweed.
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