Reviews for Ereth's Birthday
Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 April 2000
Gr. 3^-5. Ereth, the curmudgeonly old porcupine who first appeared in Poppy (1995), is now a neighbor and dear friend of Poppy, Rye, and their family of 11 little deer mice. As the story begins, Ereth feels annoyed because everyone seems to have forgotten his birthday. He rambles through Dimwood Forest and finds a vixen caught in a trap and dying. Promising to look after her three little foxes, he finds that the job taxes his patience to the limit. Throughout the book, a fisher secretly stalks Ereth and, in the end, almost kills him. Young readers will feel satisfaction when goodness is rewarded and justice prevails. Avi does a fine job of presenting the animals' varied points of view, from the thoughtless young foxes to their arrogant father to the prickly but good-hearted porcupine. Ereth, however, may prove to be a difficult hero for young readers to warm up to. His colorful speech is riddled with original and creative curses, such as "Pulsating puppy pimples" and "toe jam on a toothbrush," but the humorous effect tends to wear thin after a little while. Still, a must-read for fans of the series. ((Reviewed April 1, 2000)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2000 Fall
Although Ereth, Poppy's ornery porcupine friend in [cf2]Poppy and Rye,[cf1] tries hard to avoid becoming ensnared in relationships, he finds himself foster parent to three motherless fox kits. When the kits' errant father eventually returns, Ereth's overwhelming sadness, barely masked by anger, is touchingly portrayed. Well-developed suspense, humor, and characterization make this a satisfying continuation of the Dimwood Forest tales. Copyright 2000 Horn Book Guide Reviews
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2000 #3
Ereth the porcupine, Poppy's curmudgeonly companion in Poppy and Rye (rev. 7/98), remains true to his prickly nature in this fourth Dimwood Forest tale. Unlike his brave and heroic mouse friend Poppy, Ereth is a much more down-to-earth (and perhaps more sympathetic) character. Although he tries hard to avoid becoming ensnared in relationships, Ereth finds himself foster parent to three motherless fox kits. The ornery porcupine's transformation from cranky-"Phooey on all children with a squashed boll weevil on top"-to caring (if still a little cranky) unfolds naturally. When, eventually, the kits' errant father appears and tells Ereth to leave, his overwhelming sadness, barely masked by anger, is poignantly realistic. Avi adds another level of tension to the narrative in the character of Marty the Fisher, a cold killer who methodically stalks unsuspecting Ereth throughout the book. Well-developed suspense, humor, and vivid characterization make this installment a satisfying and touching continuation of the series. Copyright 2000 Horn Book Magazine Reviews
Kirkus Reviews 2000 May #2
The gruff but good-hearted porcupine of Avi's Poppy tales gets an adventure of his own, along with plenty of opportunities to fulminate. Spouting lines like "squirrel-splat soup" and "phooey and fried salamander spit with a side order of rat ribbon," Ereth stomps away from his musty log convinced that neighbor Poppy and her large family have forgotten his birthday. Back he comes a month later, having survived heavy snows, hunters' traps, a predatory fisher's attack, and a promise made to a dying fox to care for her three kits. Of course, he finds a delicious gift and a much-relieved troop of deer mice waiting. Avi makes Ereth's sometimes-hilarious efforts to mother the hyperactive young foxes both the story's centerpiece and a sharp commentary on absent fathers. The kits' errant but much-admired dad, appropriately named "Bounder," checks in after a full week to boot Ereth out; too self-centered to care about anyone else, he abandons the kits again the next day. Though the tale is not free of convenientlyoverheard conversations and other contrivances, it generally moves along at a good clip, builds to a dramatic climax, comes to a joyful close, and features a lively mix of characters and moods. Like Eeyore (with a temper), Ereth will be a source of amusement for his dark moods and gloomy outlook. (Fiction. 10-12) Copyright 2000 Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2000 May #2
Avi's (Poppy; Poppy and Rye; Ragweed) Dimwood Forest tales continue with this story equal parts humor and suspense that puts a non-mouse character in the limelight for the first time. Convinced that his best friend Poppy and her family have overlooked his birthday, Ereth, a curmudgeonly porcupine, wanders off in search of his favorite treat salt. What he finds instead is an adventure he hadn't counted on: surrogate parenthood. He promises a female fox dying in a hunter's trap that he will look after her three kits until their father returns. Keeping the trio fed and out of trouble proves a Herculean task, one that teaches Ereth much about the ties that bind even as it softens some of his rough edges. His steadfast if grumpy devotion is rewarded when the three save him from an attack by a cunning fisher (a furry, four-legged creature with a hankering for porcupines). Avi delivers another crackling good read, one shot through with memorable descriptions (snow "sleeved tree branches in white") and crisp, credible dialogue. Above all, showcasing Ereth allows the author free range with his cantankerous character's trademark asides ("Babies. Nothing but poop and puke, puke and poop") and outbursts ("Sour snake sauce on spaghetti!"), many of which will have readers chuckling. Ages 8-12. (May) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2000 May
Gr 3-6-Ereth, the irascible porcupine first introduced in Poppy (Orchard, 1995), is the unwilling star of this latest foray into Dimwood Forest. Thrown into a fit of pique because Poppy has apparently forgotten his birthday, Ereth waddles furiously off into the forest in search of his favorite treat-salt. Instead, he finds a mother fox caught in a trap; her dying wish is that the aging "porky" take care of her children. Against his better judgment, he finds and helps the three young foxes-and his experience actually softens his prickly nature. Ereth is a fabulously cranky creature with an epithet ("boiled badger boogers!" "jellied walrus warts") for every occasion. His inner battle between his newfound kindness and his desire to be left alone to stew in his own bile makes for an effective, touching, and very funny story. A hungry fisher on the prowl adds an element of danger, as do the presence of 16 steel traps hidden around the foxes' den. The bouncy and irrepressible young foxes see right through Ereth's crusty exterior, although young Tumble is at first resentful of him and wishes for his irresponsible father, who visits when he pleases, instead. Floca's black-and-white sketches of the animals are scattered throughout. This charming tale is a wonderful addition to the chronicles of Dimwood Forest.- Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.