In Book 1 of the newly repackaged Spy Mice series, a savvy secret agent mouse teams up with a kid who has superspy aspirations.
Fifth-grader Oz Levinson has always dreamed of being a spy, just like his hero James Bond. In real life though, Oz’s 007 moves are seriously lacking, and he’s a target for bullies. Then he stumbles upon Glory Goldenleaf, a secret agent mouse based in Washington D.C.’s International Spy Museum.
Glory is a tiny spy with a huge problem: The evil rat Roquefort Dupont has kidnapped her father, and she needs to launch a rodent rescue! Recruited to lend a helping hand, Oz and his new friend D.B. are swept into an exciting world of small-scale espionage. Armed with high-tech gadgets, pigeon power, and a whole lot of cheese, Glory and her team won’t rest until her father is rescued and justice is done.
The Black Paw CHAPTER 1 DAY ONE • FRIDAY • 1100 HOURS “DOGBONES! DOGBONES! DOGBONES!”
Oz Levinson crouched down behind the gleaming gray sports car. He prodded his glasses up the perspiring slope of his nose and squeezed his eyes tightly shut, wishing he were invisible.
“DOGBONES! DOGBONES! DOGBONES!”
Oz covered his ears, but the chant pushed past his hands. It was the sharks again, same as at his old school. Different faces, different names, but the voices were the same. Taunting, teasing voices. Voices out for blood. Or tears, at the very least. And even though the sharks weren’t after him this time, Oz’s stomach still cramped in familiar knots of panic at the sound.
“DOGBONES! DOGBONES! DOGBONES!”
The sharks were drawing closer now. It wouldn’t be long before they discovered his hiding place. Oz opened one eye and looked around in desperation for a better place to conceal himself. Running was pointless. He was fat; he was slow; they’d catch him for sure—even though he wasn’t the “Dogbones” they were after. One prey was as good as another when the sharks caught the sour scent of fear.
Oz’s gaze settled on the sports car beside him. The James Bond Aston Martin DB5 was the International Spy Museum’s most popular exhibit, and he’d spent most of the morning’s school field trip glued to its side. Its elegant lines and impressive array of modifications drew him like a magnet. Dual ram bumpers. Bulletproof glass. Armored panels. Gun ports. Tear gas. It was sleek. It was dangerous. Just like he, Oz Levinson, would be someday when he was a secret agent.
“DOGBONES! DOGBONES! DOGBONES!”
The sharks were almost on top of him. Oz huddled lower and drew a shaky breath. The Aston Martin had an emergency oxygen system. He could use a little bit of that right about now. Either that or the DB5’s smoke screen. A smoke screen would give him the perfect cover he needed to escape. A smoke screen—
“Hey, whadda we got here?”
Oz flinched as the bubble of his daydream burst. He looked up and poked nervously at his glasses again. Over him loomed Jordan Scott and Sherman “Tank” Wilson. Unlike his last school in San Francisco, where sixth grade thugs like Jordan and Tank were shipped off to middle school, Chester B. Arthur Elementary in Washington, D.C., kept them around one more year. One more year to torture the younger kids and make lives like his miserable.
Reluctantly, Oz rose to his feet. Jordan stepped forward and jabbed him in the belly. “Seen Dogbones around anywhere, Fatboy?”
“Uh,” said Oz, stalling for time. They were after his fifth grade classmate Delilah Bean, better known as “Dogbones” thanks to a pair of exceedingly skinny legs and what passed for wit amongst the sharks.
He swallowed nervously and stared at Jordan. The older boy was lumbering right up the food chain toward adolescence. A thatch of shaggy dark hair partially obscured his narrow face, which sprouted a scattering of whiskers and acne. Oz studied the constellation of pimples on his tormentor’s chin and wondered what to say. In fact, he knew exactly where Delilah Bean was hiding—in the museum’s secret passageway through the ductwork overhead—but he had no intention of ratting her out. Not to the likes of Jordan and Tank.
On the other hand, if he told them where Delilah Bean was hiding, maybe they’d let him off easy. Maybe they’d leave him alone.
Or maybe they’d even let him become one of them. A shark.
The thought was enormously tempting. Oz was so tired of always wishing he were invisible. Of always trying to stay off the radar screen. Maybe this was finally his chance. He didn’t even have to say anything. All he had to do was point.
“C’mon, Blubberbutt, you know who I’m talking about.” Jordan was growing impatient. “Skinny legs, skinny little braids. I’ll bet you’ve seen her.”
Oz started to raise his finger toward the ceiling, then hesitated. What would James Bond do if he were here? James Bond was Oz’s hero. He’d watched all the 007 movies at least a zillion times. Nothing ever rattled the world’s most famous spy. He never caved in to pressure, never lost his cool. The sharks wouldn’t stand a chance around James Bond. The British secret agent would make mincemeat out of a pimpleton like Jordan Scott.
“Are you deaf as well as blind?” Tank, a beefy redhead, glared at him. “What are you doing back here anyway?” He swiveled his thick neck toward the DB5 and grunted. “Cool car.”
Jordan grinned maliciously. “Bet Fatboy’s pretending he’s James Bond,” he said. Behind him, a knot of students snickered.
Oz froze. Was it that obvious? Were his innermost secrets not so secret?
“That’s a good one!” hooted Tank. “Who ever heard of a supersize superspy?”
“Double-O-LARD!” jeered Jordan, and the sharks and sharks-in-training clustered around him exploded with glee.
Shame rippled through Oz. Shame and humiliation. Tears started in his eyes, and he struggled to blink them back. He scanned the crowd, desperately searching for a friendly face. All he saw were sharks. And with the sound of their laughter ringing in his ears, he turned and fled.
Heather Vogel Frederick is the award-winning author of the Mother-Daughter Book Club series, Absolutely Truly, the Patience Goodspeed books, the Spy Mice series, and Once Upon a Toad. An avid fan of all things maple, Heather and her husband have recently been transplanted from Portland, Oregon, back to New England, close to where Heather grew up. You can learn more about the author and her books at HeatherVogelFrederick.com.