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A broken leg means ten-year-old Poppy won't compete in the swimming events to be "Neptune Princess," but another challenge comes her way that summer that is much more important
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Grade 3-5-- Poppy Fields falls off the roof of her house and breaks a leg, all because she's been spying on Cootie (short for Mrs. Kootabelli) , the strange lady who lives next door. She's sure the woman put a curse on her, causing the accident, and she spends most of the summer moping and complaining that her cast will prevent her from swimming in the annual Neptune Carnival. Lucky for Poppy, she has both a good-natured poet-mother and musician-brother who cater to her darker moods. Even so, she pines for her father, who is away on business. When Mr. Fields returns, he soon reveals himself to be as tempermental as his daughter. In the end, with prodding from her mother, the child attempts to gain the goodwill of her neighbor so that the curse will be lifted. Everything is neatly resolved when Poppy helps to save the woman from a fire in her backyard. Poppy is not a very sympathetic character. She seems more than a little pampered by her family and is unable to accept disappointment without taking out her frustrations on those around her. It's unlikely that children will relate to her or her problems. --Laura Culberg, Harold Washington Library Center, Chicago-
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
A predictable first novel that's redeemed by a fresh, believable third-person voice. Poppy Field, named by her poet mother for Flanders's famous symbol(!), has set her heart on winning the annual swimming competition when--in the book's first sentence--she breaks her leg by falling off the forbidden roof of her home while spying on old Mrs. Kootabelli (``Cootie'') next door. It takes Poppy weeks to confess that she didn't fall from a tree, and longer still to learn that the accident wasn't caused by Cootie's witchy pointing finger and to acquire sympathy for the lonely old lady--a process facilitated by writing poems about Cootie, and even more by rescuing her when she is trapped in a fire in her yard. Poppy doesn't get her cast off in time for the contest, but she does make a satisfying splash in a final scene at the local beach. Characters are nicely individualized, sharply drawn, and engaging; their lively dialogue keeps the story moving. Poppy is a likably imperfect young protagonist; her parents are firm and sensible, but also refreshingly fallible. An unusually promising debut. (Fiction. 7-10) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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