Tag Archives: Books for Boys

Spy Mice Blog Hop & Giveaway with Heather Vogel Frederick

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.


 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’sFrom 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.

 Q:  Really?

 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.


Filed under Author Interviews & Posts, Blog Tour, Children's Literature, Heather Vogel Frederick, Middle Grade, New Books

Blog Tour: Can You Survive? Jack London’s “Call of the Wild”

   Growing up as a child there were two types of books that really caught my attention. I loved the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books and I also adored classical literature…a trend that has obviously  persisted throughout my lifetime. Bringing the classics to children has always been part of my mission as a children’s librarian, I simply love exposing children to classical literature and watching their minds come alive with the masterpieces of the past. Just that small taste of a classic can promote a child to later in life pick up the real thing which to me is the end goal.

Enter the newly adapted “Can You Survive” series from Ryan Jacobson in which he combines the classic Call of the Wild  by Jack London with an interactive choose your own path type format. The result is an adventure into a true classic that allows young readers an interactive choice driven reading experience. This book is perfect for reluctant boy readers of late elementary to early middle grade range (Ages 9-12) although some girls may find the book to their liking as well.

The book itself places the reader into the role of Buck, the reluctant sled dog. Each plot twist and turn allows readers to decide their action and hope for survival. It’s obvious throughout the book that Jacobson has tried to stay as true as possibly to Jack London’s original story in many ways. However I would caution the choices and situations faced in the book can be graphic and somewhat disturbing at times. I would advise parents and educators to stick to the age guidelines set forth by the book or to read the book ahead of time and make sure they feel the book is appropriate for the age group for which they intend it. When made available to the correct audience this book could truly open doors into the world of classical literature for the right child.

Book Giveaway

Thanks to generous author Ryan Jacobson one lucky reader of Stiletto Storytime will win their very own copy of Can You Survive? Jack London’s Call of the Wild for a special child in their life. Giveaway ends midnight EST November 10, 2011. US and Canada addresses only please. Winner will be chosen by random.org and notified by e-mail address. Good Luck to all and Happy Reading!

To enter just comment below telling us what special child in your life deserves this book and why you think they would enjoy it. Teachers and educators are welcome and encouraged to enter for their classrooms and students.

Want extra entries? You can get an extra entry by doing any of the following:

Be/Become a Follower of Stiletto Storytime

Be/Become a Follower Stiletto Storytime on Twitter

Be/Become a Follower Author Ryan Jacobson on Twitter

Tweet or Blog about this Giveaway (Please leave link in comments)


Filed under Blog Tour, Children's Literature, Contests, Middle Grade, New Books

Review & Giveaway: The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Gross Junior Edition

https://i0.wp.com/www.chroniclebooks.com/images/items/9780811/9780811875707/9780811875707_large.jpg Two distinct things popped into my mind after reading The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Gross Junior Edition by David Borgenicht, Nathaniel Marunas &Robin Epstein.

#1: What a great book for a reluctant boy reader in the age range of 8-12.

#2 This is a book that may not make me very popular among the parent(s) of that 8-12 year old reluctant reader.

The book is everything the title claims..and most of all gross. I understand some people may have objections…do we really need to know all the alternative names for poop or have boogers, gas and burps classified? Well…maybe not. But that does not mean that it may be extremely fascinating to young boys the world over and may be the ticket to getting them to pick up a book! The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Gross Junior Edition also has another great thing going for it…it’s full of facts! Sure the facts may be gross but they are facts nonetheless which is another hit for that 8-12 year age group. Think the “Guinness World Book” stage that a lot of kids go through. I went through one myself and adore random facts to this day. I am a librarian. This book will satisfy that random fact urge on the grossest of levels, my husband was a fast fan (the male gender appeal seems to extend far beyond the target age group).  You can learn everything from the real truth about warts to the largest hairball ever removed from a human. That’s right, I said human not cat. Told you it was gross. It’s all you would come to expect from the great Worst Case Scenario series only gross and junior sized!

And thanks to the generous publisher Chronicle Books, one lucky Stiletto Storytime reader will get to be grossed out as well with their own copy of The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Gross Junior Edition. Read it yourself and share it with the boys in your life (both young and old)…they are sure to love it! Contest ends October 7th at midnight EST. Winner will be chosen randomly and notified by e-mail. To enter simply leave a comment with your e-mail address telling me who in your life would LOVE this book.

Also make check out the other stops on this books great Blog Tour:


Filed under Blog Tour, Children's Literature, Children's Non-Fiction, Middle Grade, New Books

Review: The Limit by Kristen Landon


Almost every family has a credit card. While it’s never a good idea to go into debt or to exceed your financial budget, the repercussions of such an action are not extreme in today’s society. If you splurge on something or even need to make an emergency purchase you may have to pay extra but the cost is usually not much. Perhaps you may pay an overdraft fee or owe more in the long run but it’s not as if someone is going to come to your house and take your first born child. However in the future what might happen if you reach your limit and what might it really cost you in the end? What if it did cost you your child or what if you were taken because your family couldn’t afford to pay their debts?

Matthew Dunston never worried about being taken, after all his father made a good living and he and his sisters never had any reason to believe that someday they might exceed their family account. While his mother shopped quite a lot and their father was always playing golf they still believed that their parents always had everything under control. The Dunstons had heard of children being taken to the workhouse for family debts but they didn’t know anyone who had disappeared personally. No matter anyhow since “Matt” as his family calls him is the oldest of the Dunston children and still in middle school, if they did go over their limit the government would simply put them on “supervised spending “or some other penalty program. Everyone knows the government never takes kids under high school age to the workhouse for family debts. Until now that is.

When thirteen-year-old Matt’s family accidentally goes over “the limit”, he finds himself in the highest ranks of the workhouse program. After testing exceedingly high in his math capabilities he is sent to the “top floor”, a kids dream where he can literally have anything or do anything he wants except the one thing he wants most: to go home. However soon odd things begin to happen to the kids at the workhouse and Matt finds perhaps his family’s unfortunate luck of losing him to the government was not luck at all.

In an inventive thriller that will keep you reading non-stop until the very last page, Kristen Landon has given middle grade readers a fast paced tale that will enthrall even the most reluctant reader.  Suspense, mystery and excitement all combine to make The Limit a must read not just for kids but their parents as well. Landon details a future society that has incurred the ultimate penalty for debt: children.  Kids will enjoy reading Landon’s fearsome tale and parents may even think twice next time they go to swipe their card for that un-needed purchase.  In the end everyone will want to know what it cost the Dunston family when they went over “the limit”.

The Limit will be available on September 7, 2010. In the meantime you can go “Behind the Scenes” and check out Landon’s inspiration for her latest book.


Filed under Children's Literature, Middle Grade, New Books


I just finished Tunnels by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams last night. Initially I was afraid I would not enjoy this one but once I picked it up I was hooked. While Publishers Weekly did not give the book a great review, I have to say that I really enjoyed not only the concept but how in depth and detailed the work got.  It did in some ways remind me of The Books of Ember series but it was on a higher reading level and it also went into much more detail, sometimes I think it may have gotten a little too carried away on some issues such as alcohol and religion. Therefore I would probably recommend it for 12+. But it would be a great series for older kids who enjoyed The Books of Ember series and are looking for something similar. There are now three in the series. First comes Tunnels, then Deeper and next is Freefall. However since this is a UK book, in the US we can only currently get the first two. I will definetly be looking forward to the next few books and I think lots of kids will as well. This would be a great summer read for an adventurous boy! Or any readers of fantasy for that matter. However I think it is more suited for kids that really enjoy reading due to vocabulary level and length. I even had to think about some of the words! It would be a challenge for the reluctant reader. All in all though a great read and will keep you guessing til the next book! Below is a summary of Tunnels:

“14-year-old Will Burrows has little in common with his strange, dysfunctional family. In fact, the only bond he shares with his eccentric father is a passion for archaeological excavation. So when Dad mysteriously vanishes, Will is compelled to dig up the truth behind his disappearance. He unearths the unbelievable: a secret subterranean society. “The Colony” has existed unchanged for a century, but it’s no benign time capsule of a bygone era–because the Colony is ruled by a cultlike overclass, the Styx. Before long–before he can find his father–Will is their prisoner….”


Filed under Children's Literature