The Problem with Poppy by Emma Sandford, illustrated by Olena Osadcha

Anyone who knows me will realise that I love wildlife and nature so I’d like to extend my enormous thanks to Nick Jones at Full Media for sending me a copy of the children’s book The Problem with Poppy by Emma Sandford and illustrated by Olena Osadcha in return for an honest review.

The Problem with Poppy is published by Full Media in conjunction with the Rainforest Trust UK and is available for purchase here.

The Problem with Poppy

Poppy the porcupine has always wanted to make a friend, but her defensive nature prevents her. When a young tiger cub stumbles upon her one day in the rainforest, she reacts badly and scares him away.

Determined to change her ways, she sets out to find him, but little does she know that the tiger cub is about to have a problem of his own. In the face of danger, will Poppy find a way to save the day?

The Problem with Poppy is a picture book aimed at children aged 4-8 and is the debut by British author Emma Sandford. Illustrated by Ukrainian artist Olena Osadcha.

The Problem with Poppy by Emma Sandford is a perfect combination of fun and learning that any little kid will love.” – Readers’ Favorite ★★★★★

The Problem with Poppy is the first in a series called The Sumatran Trilogy. The second book, What’s Troubling Tawny?, will be published in December 2021 and the third book, Hooray for Heidi!, will be published in June 2022. The Trilogy has been written in partnership with Rainforest Trust UK.

My Review of The Problem with Poppy

Rory is frightened by Poppy!

The Problem with Poppy is a charming children’s book with a profound and meaningful message that includes both implied and obvious meanings so that it can be explored on different levels with children within the intended age range. Poppy’s loneliness arising out of her literal and metaphorical prickliness shows children how to make friends and overcome their own feelings and develop emotional literacy, whilst the capture of Rory by poachers can be explored with older children to teach them about conservation and wildlife protection. Indeed, The Problem with Poppy can be used far beyond its obvious intention with geographical research projects in the classroom and at home to discover more about the Sumatran forest, or to learn about both tigers and porcupines for example. I loved this element of the book.

The language in The Problem with Poppy is quite challenging but this is by no means a criticism. The book will need an adult for younger readers to access it fully, but more confident KS1 children can tackle it themselves and both the context and illustrations alongside the narrative mean that children can gain new knowledge and vocabulary as they enjoy the story. I can see teachers using The Problem with Poppy to develop writing skills as the use of ellipsis or italics in this narrative can be transferred to children’s own emergent writing.

Speaking of illustration, Olena Osadcha’s images in The Problem with Poppy are simply wonderful, especially the facial expressions of Rory and Poppy which again support children learning about emotions really well. The colour scheme works perfectly for the forest setting with many greens and browns.

The Problem with Poppy is a sensitive, well thought out book that has a depth sometimes missing in children’s stories. Perfectly enjoyable at face value as a children’s story with just enough peril and a positive resolution, it has the potential to be shared and read on many levels so that it has value for several years. I thought it was excellent.

About Emma Sandford

Emma Sandford is a children’s author based in Cheshire.

For many years, Emma had wanted to write a children’s book that draws on her own experiences and helps young children overcome certain emotional issues they may have. The Problem With Poppy is a fun way of teaching kids that while everybody has a natural defence mechanism, there is a time and a place to use it.

You can find out more on Emma’s website.

About Olena Osadcha

Olena Osadcha is a Ukranian digital artist / illustrator based in Kiev. She is passionate about design and has a particular interest and love for children’s book illustration.

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