The Black Paw — "Spy Mice" Series
This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the first book in the "Spy Mice" series.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Fifth-grader Ozymandias (Oz) Levinson, overweight and unpopular, has changed schools again. The bullies are the same everywhere, though. They chase, terrorize and humiliate him, making him feel worthless. Oz loves James Bond and dreams of being brave like that international spy. His hopes are dashed, as always, when he finds himself hiding from the bullies on a class field trip to the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.
The same museum houses a top-secret spy organization made up of mice. Glory Goldenleaf, a tiny field agent with an elegant nose and a brave spirit, seeks to bring down nefarious rat Roquefort Dupont, who murdered her father. Dupont runs the rat underworld and believes the only good mouse is a dead one. He has sent Glory an ominous message by stamping his paw in ink and mailing it to her. Dupont's Black Paw means she, like her father, is marked for death. Glory is in trouble with her boss, Julius, since she's allowed a powerful mouse weapon called the Kiss of Death to fall into Dupont's hands.
When Glory and Oz accidentally meet in a stairwell, Glory breaks mouse code by talking to the human. The two realize they can help each other conquer their enemies. Oz introduces Glory to Delilah Bean (D.B.), a classmate who is often harassed by the same bullies.
Glory and the kids, along with a lab mouse named Bunson, form a plan to help Glory infiltrate Dupont's lair in the sewer. They hide Glory in a special soda can tied with fishing line and lower her into the sewer. While in Dupont's hideout, Glory finds more than the Kiss of Death. She finds her father in a cage, alive. She attempts to rescue him, but Dupont gets them both. Bunson and the kids go to B-Nut, Glory's brother, for help. Once B-Nut recovers from meeting the humans and hearing about his father, he, his rock band and his transport pigeon come to the rescue.
When Glory and her father are free, the group goes straight to agency headquarters. Julius is initially angry to see Glory again; he's learned she broke mouse code by talking to humans and heard of her other rogue behavior. He changes his tune when he sees her father alive and learns she's gotten information about Dupont's plans to destroy their agency. With the help of Oz and D.B., the mice stop Dupont and his army from attacking on the night of a fancy soiree at the museum. Once the rats are under control, the mice help Oz and D.B. give their bullies, who are also party guests, a taste of the humiliation they've felt. Oz finally feels like he has friends and a support system, and he's had the chance to be the secret agent he always longed to be. Glory and Bunson, both awarded and promoted, dance the night away at the party.
Other Belief Systems
Heck appears a few times, and jeez shows up once. A bully calls Oz blubberbutt. Dupont keeps a trophy wall of mouse and rat parts, mainly ears and tails, to revel in his victories and intimidate his foes. He mails the tail of Glory's father's to the family, leaving them to assume he has been killed. Dupont has bitten the ear off of one of his underlings and repeatedly threatens to add the rat's other ear to his trophy wall as well.
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Readability Age Range
8 to 11
Heather Vogel Frederick
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of the Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division