"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 Coulter
From Publishers Weekly
Avi's (Poppy; Poppy and Rye; Ragweed) Dimwood Forest tales continue with this storyAequal parts humor and suspenseAthat 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 treatAsalt. 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.
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