Troubador Poppy Haviland & The Secret of the Lively Widow

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Released: 28/03/2019

ISBN: 9781789016819

eISBN: 9781789019629

Format: Paperback/eBook

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Poppy Haviland & The Secret of the Lively Widow

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Poppy Haviland & The Secret of the Lively Widow is the first book in a series featuring twelve-year-old aspiring actress Poppy Petunia Haviland and her adventuresome friends. Simply being twelve years old is tough enough, but try being twelve AND the daughter of the world’s most famous movie star. Yeah... exactly.  


In The Secret of the Lively Widow, Poppy’s family relocate to a small town where the appearance of superstar Holly Haviland takes the community by storm. Even when Poppy discovers a treasure map carefully tucked within their historic lodgings, she can’t seem to capture anyone’s attention for very long. She recruits her best friend, Annie Kim, and her strange new neighbour Rick Reyes (a rapper and inventor), to explore the history of the map and of their new community.  

The trio learns that the town that they are living in was a key terminal on the Underground Railroad – the illegal passageway to freedom that played a major role in the termination of slavery in America – and that Poppy’s family played an important role in that history. Will their efforts result in the discovery of a long-rumoured historical treasure, or will someone else get to it first?

Gemma's Book Nook

Broadway World

A real children's adventure. An underground tunnel and river, a cliff to fall off, someone to escape from and the odd booby trap - what more could you want. Also a good look at the history of slavery - more of escaping slaves, than slavery.

by Aileen


This novel is a thrilling and exciting début from author duo Michael Barra and Annabel Lively Barra.

The plot was intriguing and exciting and very well paced with no slow parts and I particularly liked the author’s portrayal of the characters. The interaction between the three friends, twelve-year-old Poppy, Annie and ten-year-old Rick, aka R-Cubed or Ricardo, was a delight.

Poppy’s mum, Holly Haviland, although not at all relatable, was brilliantly drawn, but this was an essential part of the story and complemented it very well. I did feel some sadness for Poppy as she had such a detached relationship with her mother.

Also worth a mention was the way in which the authors combined the adults' story-lines with those of the children, throughout the book. They did support the younger ones to some degree, however, there were times when their behaviour wasn’t agreeable, such as finding Poppy’s situation with her spectacles highly amusing.

As well as being rich in wit and humour, “Poppy Haviland & the Secret of the Lively Widow” highlighted some important issues for the reader about communication and friendship in the modern world. It also had an important message to give about allowing children enough space to further their own ambitions and letting them be themselves.

I wholeheartedly recommend this novel to both adults and older children and I hope to read more of Michael Barra’s and Annabel Lively Barra’s novels in the future. I will definitely look out for book two in the series - ‘Poppy Haviland & the Blood of the Bard’ - which is due out next year!

by Bridget


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