Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

It's Raining Mice!

The ‘Books and Authors’ site for December 20th makes an interesting observation: "Every couple of years a strange phenomenon occurs within children’s publishing; a number of books will appear on the same subject without any identifiable trigger." 

And for 2011 the subject is mice. 

At the launch party, I mentioned that when my agent started shopping ‘Mousenet’ to publishers she found one or two who liked the book, but already had their mouse books for the season, thank you very much. I’d no idea that it was raining mice quite so heavily. This year there are at least five mouse books - which might not be remarkable were it not for the fact that four of these are by authors at the top of the tree. Three are ex-Newbery winners, no less (‘Secrets at Sea’ by Richard Peck, ‘Bless This Mouse’ by Lois Lowry and ‘Young Fredle’ by Cynthia Voigt). Meanwhile Carmen Agra Deedy, the author of ‘The Cheshire Cheese Cat,’ (which has mice as heroes)
has won at least 45 awards for past books.

I’m delighted that 'Books and Authors' included ‘Mousenet’ in this exalted company-complete with a link to the website of the Mouse Nation. But what is it about those top-tier authors that led them all to mice? Are they being secretly brainwashed by the Nation’s Public Relations department, working through the clans that live behind the authors’ walls, and know everything? 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A new review

Mousenet has just been reviewed very nicely for the January issue of the School Library Journal:

"Breitrose spins an enjoyable tale as she explores the nature of friendship, highlighting the timeless themes of individuality and respect for those who are different, and introduces a good mix of memorable characters and contemporary problems. Yue’s illustrations throughout are suitably charming. Although the tale is not as complex or allegorical as Kate DiCamillo’s Tale of Despereaux (Candlewick, 2003), Avi’s “Poppy” series (HarperCollins), or Robert C. O’Brien’s “Mrs. Frisby” books (Atheneum), the novel offers mouse lovers action and suspense, and its readability makes it a good choice for those moving up from formulaic series like Geronimo Stilton’s books (Scholastic) to more complex stories."


Monday, December 19, 2011

Mousenet on Facebook

I've finally trained my Mousenet page on Facebook to behave. For some reason it was swallowing things that people wrote on its wall, so you couldn't see comments unless you asked, which was not cool. Now I've managed to check the right boxes, and things show up as they should–including my first direct piece of fan mail from a reader. Thanks, Noah! You can see his thoughts (and add your own) here.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Amazon Follow-Up

Big question: did Amazon know (see previous post) that a shopper browsing through the best recent books for children 6 - 8 would be swamped by books for older children, the whole 8-12 or 8 and up crowd? I found a question box on the Amazon site that invited comments, and asked them to explain.

Amazon replied by e-mail. Was I unhappy with the age-range that the publisher had given for my book?

Er, no. I went back to the little question box and tried again. This time Amazon actually called me.  A human, albeit one who had no clue what I was talking about. I took her by the cyber-hand and led her gently through "books" to "children" to "6-8," through "hardcover" to "recently published" and "sorted by customer review."  And bingo: MOUSENET, shiny and blue and in absolutely the wrong place.

Ms. Amazon couldn't promise that the anomaly would be fixed, but she did say she'd raise the question with people higher up the food chain. And as we British say, that was better than a slap in the belly with a wet fish. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011


People keep asking how well the book is selling and I’ll have no clue until the official sales figures come out. But it is getting some very nice reviews on Amazon, which led me into the sort of digging into Amazon’s brain that can drive one insane.

I wanted to see how Mousenet stacked up against other new hardcovers on Amazon and found that with its perfect score of six 5-star reviews – Ta Da! – it’s been a solid second or third. But not among the middle-grade books where it belongs. Oh no. Mousenet is for children 8 – 12, right? Whenever Amazon’s computers see an “8” they pop the book into the 6 – 8 age group (the next one up being 9 – 12).

This morning, five out of the six best-reviewed books in Amazon’s 6 - 8 category are officially for children 8 and up. Grrr.

Friday, December 2, 2011

More work for mice in Africa

OK, so the elections in the Congo went off (so far) better than expected. Maybe mice really were on the job. Now they're needed in another part of the continent, at the UN climate talks in Durban, South Africa. In fact the Big Cheese has just written an encouraging memo to the guys on the ground, because if anyone can find out what humans REALLY think–and spread that knowledge to others–it's mice.

You can see the memo at www.mousenet.org. Just follow the link under "Mouse Nation."