Poppy is a modern day fable. At the center of the story is a wonderfully out-of-the-ordinary flyer, whose quirky, spontaneous qualities give her an appealing individuality. But that uniqueness is tested when Poppy feels the pull of false claims and promises on the billboards that clutter the landscape. She starts craving the acceptance that comes with being like everyone else.
Poppy is a collaboration of art and today’s media culture. The eclectic renderings that tell her story, created on reclaimed paper bags, feature a cast of characters that challenge conventional ideas of beauty and perfection. Poppy explores issues of media literacy, conformity, idealized beauty and true friendship in a way that connects with readers of all ages.
Poppy is the story of a wonderfully out-of-the ordinary flyer who strives to fit in. Wanting acceptance from the conforming crowd around her, Poppy tries to hide the quirky and spontaneous qualities that define her individuality. Mirroring kid culture, a billboard encourages Poppy to join a school for flyers who want to fit in, a place that allows little room for self expression and creativity. Signing up means that Poppy will lose touch with her originality. By the end of the story, the closed and competitive culture transforms into one of cooperation, acceptance and collaboration. Poppy and the other fliers celebrate their own uniqueness and the uniqueness of others.
I consider Poppy my protest book. Like Poppy, I have been influenced by the false claims and promises in advertisements. It seems the landscape of today’s popular culture is cluttered with ads and media messages that tell our children, time and again, to follow a path that leads to conformity, competition and awards rather than following their passions. This steady barrage of messages leaves all of us feeling pressured, anxious and empty.
Children’s books are powerful. With words and art and a story, they create a creative “away” space for children—away from advertisements and media messages that command so much attention in our lives. The impact on children, who need more not fewer creative spaces in their lives, is especially profound. As Poppy takes flight in the pages of her book, I hope she opens our eyes to a new way of seeing this world.