Books for boys…I’m not ashamed to admit as a children’s librarian it’s probably my Achilles heel…somehow very early in my career I became a certifiable princess expert within the library scene. I was always sought out when the need for girly books was crucial especially when the treasured few princess books were checked out or falling to pieces from so much child love. And while I never minded because I got to do Daddy Daughter Tea Parties and wear a ball gown skirt and tiara for programs….this became much more complicated when I was blessed with my beautiful BOY. That’s right…the Mom who knew it all for girls was blessed with the bouncing baby boy! What’s a librarian and a Mom to do? Call in the expert…a favorite children’s book author who just happens to have raised two boys. Did I mention she also happens to be fabulous at writing for girls as well? All right it must be said…she’s just plain fabulous.
Who is she you ask? Well…I always had my go-to books for boys that I trusted every time and the Spy Mice series by Heather Vogel Frederick was always one of those that I went to for reader’s advisory for boys. Spies…mice..adventure…intrigue…what’s not to like? So how wonderful is it that they are now all new in paperback with covers meant to make them irresistible to even the most persnickety of young readers both boy and girl. Lucky for me author Heather Vogel Frederick decided to drop by and answer questions about her favorite mice and their risky adventures. Not only that Stiletto Storytime and The Styling Librarian get to give three lucky readers entire newly released sets of the series. Now that’s something to celebrate! It’s a series I will no doubt be stocking for my boy for on down the reading road. So read on and learn more about this great series and remember to enter to win on the form below by simply sharing your favorite fictional spy.
SPY MICE Q&A
Author Heather Vogel Frederick
Q: What’s the best part about the relaunch of your SPY MICE books?
A: Knowing that new readers will have a chance to discover them! These books are dear to my heart, and I had a blast writing them.
Q: What do you think of the new look?
A: Fabulous! I couldn’t be happier.
Q: Can you tell us how the books came about?
A: Sure. Not that long ago, in a galaxy not that far away, I had a bright idea. I’d write a story that would pay homage to my misspent youth, or at least the part of it misspent in the living room watching television. I grew up during the heyday of spy-fi TV, addicted to such shows as Get Smart, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Mission: Impossible, and The Avengers. My 12-year-old self loved them all. I loved the glamour, the gadgets, the whole cool factor of espionage, at least as Hollywood portrayed it.
Grown-up me knew exactly where to set the story. The seed for that idea had been planted when I’d filed away a newspaper clipping about the building of the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., along with a scribbled reminder. (Note to self: Great setting for a story, à la E. L. Konigsburg’s “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.”)
I noodled around with the concept for a while, came up with a great main character (an aspiring fifth grade spy whose James Bond moves were seriously lacking), but something was missing. And so I set the story aside and waited for that je ne sais quoi. And waited. I’ve learned to trust my muse—she often makes me wait, but she always comes through. One day, the words “spy mice” drifted into thought, and I was off and running.
Q: Do you have a favorite character?
A: Mouse or human?
Q: Let’s start with mouse.
A: Well, the evil rat mastermind Roquefort Dupont is really fun to write, and I have a soft spot for Bunsen (Burner, a shy lab mouse). I love it when he blushes—which he does often, because he has a crush on secret agent mouse Glory Goldenleaf.
Q: And the humans?
A: There’s a lot of me in fifth grader Oz Levinson, alas. When I was his age, we both shared the same awkwardness, the same Walter Mitty-esque delusions of grandeur, complete with deflating reality checks. And we were both bullied.
A: Yep. I was plump, shy, and wore glasses, the trifecta of bully bait back then, at least in my particular corner of suburbia. Nowadays, schools talk much more openly about bullying, and really make an effort to both prevent the problem, and give kids the tools to deal with it more effectively when it does crop up. Back then, it was just something to be endured.
Q: Would fifth-grade you have appreciated a mouse ally?
A: Are you kidding me? I would have been ecstatic.
Q: Who’s your favorite fictional spy?
A: Oz may dream of being James Bond, but when I was his age I dreamed of being Emma Peel from The Avengers. No one wears a black leather catsuit like Emma does.