A little girl longs for romantic love but goes after it in quite the wrong way.
Ten-year-old Poppy Marigold, inspired by the kiss in Sleeping Beauty, imagines being kissed by her own prince and thinks each of her three favorite boy classmates should by now have kissed her more than once. But they ignore her. Using the annual Oak Apple Day parade as cover, Poppy climbs a tree and pelts the boys with apples, planning to kiss them when they’re down. If one of them wakes when she’s kissing him, it will be true love, and everyone will know it. The first apple only hits Alastair in the shoulder. The second hits Duncan in the head but doesn’t knock him down. The third toss smacks Fergus to the ground. Poppy jumps out of the tree and kisses Fergus. He tries to run, so she takes chase and pelts him with apples. Finally, Fergus gives up and makes Oak Apple Day history by kissing Poppy.
The British celebrate Royal Oak Day on May 29 in honor of King Charles II’s birthday. Ten-year-old Poppy Marigold wears an oak apple round her neck because if a student doesn’t wear a costume they are to be pinched—in the bum. Poppy sits at lunch with Alastair Glover, Duncan MacGregor, and Fergus Laird. None of the boys say anything to her. She wants to pinch them in the bum for their bad attitudes. Inspired by the kiss in Sleeping Beauty, she imagines being kissed by her own prince. For weeks, Poppy was sure she was in love with each of the three adorable boys, and now was the time to finally be kissed. She decides that the large Oak Tree outside the School is about to help her get that first kiss.
As Poppy pinches the boys’ bums, their teacher announces that the Heart of Oak Friendly Society Parade starts at three o’clock. This year Poppy plans to sneak up the Oak Tree and drop apples on Alastair, Duncan, and Fergus. More determined than ever, she remembers how wonderful love is supposed to be, according to Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince. So, when no one is looking, she stuffs her dress pockets and backpack with apples. Poppy thinks if she hits the boys in the head, they’ll pass out, and she can kiss them before they wake up. If one of them wakes when she’s kissing him, it will be true love, and everyone will know it. When Poppy finishes her Maypole, she slips out to the Oak Tree and positions herself on a sturdy tree branch where she has good aim at any of the boys.
Her classmates walk out with their Maypoles, oak boughs, and flowers. They look so festive Poppy almost forgets her plan to drop the apples, but when she sees Alastair, she drops the first apple and hits his shoulder. She drops the second apple on Duncan. It hits him in the head, but it isn’t strong enough to knock him out. When she sees Fergus, she throws the apple so hard that it smacks him to the ground. She declares it’s true love. Poppy climbs down and the rest of the apples fall on everyone. As her teacher scolds her, she runs to Fergus, grabs him, and kisses him. A few moments later, Fergus opens his eyes, looking so shocked and confused that he can hardly breathe. Yelling, Fergus gets up off the sidewalk and runs down the parade route as fast as he can. Poppy calls after him and runs to try to catch him, throwing apples from the sidewalk at his head, with good aim. After a few minutes, Fergus gives up, and makes Oak Apple Day history when he kisses Poppy.
Copyright 2022 Jennifer Waters