My 11-year-old son Coleman has always been a voracious reader. The past few months he’s devoured some interesting middle grade books and I’ll be sharing some of his thoughts on what he’s read and loved. The good news is that he’s discovered a slew of great books in all sorts of genres by a variety of very talented authors. We’ll begin our conversation by discussing a new series called The Song of the Winns and the first book in the Gerander trilogy is entitled The Secret of The Ginger Mice ($12.95, Running Press, ages 8 and up) by Frances Watts with illustrations by David Francis. – Chosen as a Children’s Book Council of Australia Notable Book 2011
Q. In a nutshell, if you described this book to friends, what would you tell them it was about?
A. I’d have to say this book is part mystery, part adventure about mice triplets. When Alice and Alex, two of the triplets discover their other brother has gone missing, Alice and Alex set out on a journey to find Alistair (a ginger mouse unlike the other two) and learn why he has possibly been mousenapped.
Q. Where do the mice live in the story?
A. They live in a country called Shetlock which borders a country in turmoil called Gerander. Another nearby country called Souris is trying to take over Gerander.
Q. Tell us something about the triplets. What are they like, what challenges do they face trying to locate Alistair?
A. Alex and Alice are very adventurous yet Alistair is the type who would rather sit on a chair, snuggle with his scarf and read a book. The two siblings face many obstacles during their exploits like Alex eating all the food on the first day of the journey, encounters with two-faced spies, and being locked in a cellar with almost no way out.
Q. How do the struggles in Gerander affect the triplets?
A. Semi-Spoiler Alert: Most of the ginger mice come from Gerander, and Souris wants to eliminate all of the ginger mice no matter where they are from so it will be easier to invade and conquer Gerander. As it happens Alistair was mousenapped by FIG, a pro-Gerander secret organization, in order to keep him safe from Souris mousenappers and spies. So all the time Alice and Alex are worried, Alistair is actually safe. It’s when Alistair tries to escape to go home that his real problems begin.
Q. What did you enjoy most about this book?
A. It’s so hard to pinpoint one thing that I liked because there were so many things in the story I found enjoyable. I cared about the mice and felt how they did. I thought the story idea was clever and it kept me turning the pages to see what crazy things Alistair was going to get up to, unlike how he usually behaved. The setting was quite realistic and it was easy getting caught up in the story.
Q. How did you feel when you finished the book?
A. At the end I was like, “No, give me more!” I did not want the book to end.
Q. Who would like The Secret of The Ginger Mice?
A. Anyone who can read well and likes adventure books with lots of surprises would find this a terrific book. In other words probably 3rd through 5th graders, or kids even younger if their parents read it to them. I can’t wait for book #2.