Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Spy Mice: The Black Paw

Spy Mice: The Black Paw

Heather Vogel Frederick
Illustrator:  Sally Wern Comport 
Fiction  Series
For ages 9 to 12
Simon and Schuster, 2006   ISBN: 978-1416927709

In his last school in California, the bullies didn’t find Oz for many months because he managed to stay under the radar. However, this time, in his new elementary school in Washington, DC, the bullies have already found him and it is not yet Halloween.

Oz and his classmates are visiting the International Spy Museum when two bullies called Tank and Jordan target Oz for their cruel remarks. Oz knows his way around the museum very well because his father works in the museum café, and he is able to find a place to hide from the two bullies. Which is where he meets Glory Goldleaf. Glory is a mouse, a very smart talking mouse. Oz is so impressed with Glory that when he gets into trouble he arranges to meet her the next day. Perhaps she can help him.

When the boy and the mouse meet for the second time, Oz finds out that all mice can talk and read, and that they have a very complex society that is similar to his human society in many ways. Apparently Glory used to be an agent in the Spy Mice Agency and she was just fired for failing in a simple mission that she was given. She was supposed to deliver a weapon to a mouse in the British Embassy, and instead she let the weapon fall into the paws of Roquefort Dupont, who is the meanest and most dangerous rat of them all. Glory’s father tried to infiltrate Dupont’s lair but he was captured and executed, and not long ago Dupont sent Glory the mark of the Black Paw, which means that she is on his “hit list.” Dupont is determined to do everything he can to elevate his fellow rats, and enslave the mice.

Oz and Glory decide to help each other with their problems. Oz will help Glory get the weapon back from Dupont, and Glory will do what she can to help Oz have his revenge on Tank and Jordan.

At first the plan that they cook up works very well, but then Glory discovers something in Dupont’s den that changes everything. Suddenly her mission is much bigger than she imagined it would be.

In this first Spy Mice title, Heather Vogel Frederick tells a story that is exciting, full of surprises, and perfectly satisfying. Readers who have been picked on by class mates will sympathize with Oz’s predicament, and they will find it hard not to hope that he will find a way to put Tank and Jordan in their place. As the story unfolds it becomes clear that the world would be a much better place if we all had little friends like Glory Goldleaf.