Monday, June 3, 2013

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: The Spies of Gerander

Today’s Pick: The Spies of Gerander by Frances Watts
[Book 2 in The Song of the Winns trilogy]

Published in the USA by Running Press, 2013

From the publisher:

′It had been four years since the triplets had seen their parents -- and for most of that time, they′d thought their parents were dead...′

Alistair, Alice and Alex have returned home safe from their adventures, but now that they know their homeland, Gerander, is in danger they can′t sit by and do nothing. Together with their friend Tibby Rose, they join FIG -- an organisation working to free Gerander from the rule of greedy Queen Eugenia of Souris.

Posing as orphans, Alex and Alice are sent on a risky undercover mission to the capital of Gerander in a desperate attempt to learn the Sourians′ plans -- only to encounter some old enemies . . . and some new ones.

Meanwhile, Alistair and Tibby Rose set out to find Gerander′s secret paths and rescue Alistair′s parents from an enemy prison. But someone is determined to stop them -- someone who seems to know their every move. Is it possible FIG has a traitor?

"A breathless plot alternates between Alistair and Tibby Rose′s quest and Alex and Alice′s spy activities, carrying the resilient, endearing mice to a surprise ending... An animated sequel that does not disappoint." Kirkus Reviews

My Take:

This was an exciting adventure, with lots of plot twists and turns. I loved the distinctive personalities of the mice, and especially Alice’s ingenious ways to get them out of sticky situations. It felt a bit like the mice characters could just as easily have been humans, since they used chairs, desks, whiteboards, etc., and I'd have liked a bit more of the mouse perspective. But I think many readers will get wrapped up in the story and want to find out if the young mice ever do get through all the obstacles and find their parents.

From a writer’s perspective, I enjoyed the descriptive detail and how the author created a strong sense of the setting. This book is a good one to study if you want to learn how to write cliffhangers, since most chapters end with one.

 Favourite Quotes:

“Huddling in the dark, a dark as complete and black as any he had ever known, Alistair tried to stay calm even as his mind threw up frightening scenarios.”

“That’s the hardest part about the kind of struggle we’re engaged in—learning when to think with your heart and when with your head.”

“If there’s one thing I know, it’s that a spy can never afford to get too comfortable. You need to have your wits about you at all times.”

Other Info:

Frances Watts was born in Switzerland, but she moved to Australia when she was a child.
In her notes for teachers, she says, “When I first started writing The Song of the Winns, I set out to write the kind of book that I loved as a child:  something fast paced and full of adventure, with characters that I would get to know and love.”

Come back on Wednesday for an interview with the author, Frances Watts!

Other middle grade books by this author:
The Secret of the Ginger Mice [The Song of the Winns: Book 1]
The Secret of Zanzibar [The Song of the Winns: Book 3]

Frances Watts is also the author of several early chapter books and picture books, including Kisses for Daddy and Parsley Rabbit's Book About Books.

For more info, visit Frances Watts’ website.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was dreamed up by the very energetic Shannon Messenger, author of Keeper of the Lost Cities. Visit her blog for an up-to-date list of all the bloggers who are participating and posting about middle grade books today!




  1. Hadn't heard of this. Thanks for sharing about it.

  2. oh my goodness this is adorable! i have to add it to my list!

  3. I couldn't help going all oohhh over this book. It sounds so adorable.



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