The Poppy books (also called Tales of Dimwood Forest) are a series about a young deer mouse named Poppy. Poppy lived a quiet life with her family in an abandoned farmhouse until the arrival of a rebellious golden mouse named Ragweed. Ragweed turns Poppy's head and angers her parents by asking a lot of awkward questions about their lives and their "protector", the terrifying owl Mr Ocax. The mice are not permitted to move around within the owl's territory without asking his permission, on pain of death. Poppy's family are running out of food and ask to be allowed to move to New House some distance away. Mr Ocax denies them permission, citing Poppy and Ragweed's disobedience as the reason. Poppy feels she has no choice but to set out alone and try to find out the truth about New House and why Mr Ocax doesn't want the mice to move there.
I accidentally picked up the second book in this series about the animals of Dimwood Forest before reading the first one because Poppy was the first one published but isn't the first story chronologically. The story still makes sense when you read the books in this order, but there are some spoilers for the first book. Suffice it to say that Ragweed's appearance in this story is very brief indeed.
The book is good for reading aloud to young children, though you will need to gauge how sensitive they are since tragic things happen and some of the animals die. My five year old greatly enjoyed hearing about Poppy's bravery and resourcefulness. Poppy questions undeserved authority, uses logic to find solution to problems and stands up for herself even when she's afraid. The book is well paced and exciting, so much so that we almost missed our bus on one occasion because we couldn't bear to put it down until we finished the chapter.
The series will probably appeal to animal lovers and fans of The Animals of Farthing Wood by Colin Dann and Brian Jacques' Redwall books.
The complete series is comprised of: Poppy, Poppy and Rye, Ragweed, Ereth's Birthday, Poppy's Return, and Poppy and Ereth