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Reviewed by Jon Michael Miller for Readers' Favorite
The Problem with Poppy by Emma Sandford (illustrated magnificently by Olena Osadcha) is a lovely story about being scared to make friends and about overcoming that fear. We can imagine how difficult it is for porcupines to form acquaintances! Rory is a boy tiger cub who happens upon Poppy, a porcupine chomping in the interior of a log. Rory is scared off by Poppy’s defensive quills. Poppy feels bad about not making friends and heads off in search of Rory. Then Man arrives (reminiscent of the Bambi tale) and traps the tiger cub, and Poppy ingeniously helps Rory escape. All of this happens amid the lush jungle where we see besides the tiger cub and the porcupine, a parrot, birds flying, a snake, a cockatoo, a monkey, some worms, a snail, and some bugs.
The Problem with Poppy by Emma Sandford is a wonderful story to teach a child not to be afraid of other children’s differences, and of their own. We can all be friends, and even help each other as Poppy does for Rory. The graphics are fantastic, the verdant jungle, the animals, Rory with his stripes and Poppy's sharp quills, and both with their big, big eyes. The colors are bright and vivid with blues and greens. And there is a rich vocabulary for learning: pondered, curious, darted, snooped, den, bellowed, and engine, among many others. In an afterword, Sandford explains her launching of this wonderful book to help maintain the rainforest, the Sumatran forest in Indonesia, in particular, which is the setting of the story. Best of all are the two delightful puns—the tiger cub’s name Rory and roaring, and the porcupine’s name Poppy and popping! The Problem with Poppy by Emma Sandford is a perfect combination of fun and learning that any little kid will love.