Cover image for The secret of the ginger mice
The secret of the ginger mice
Publication Information:
Philadelphia, PA : RP Kids, 2012.
Physical Description:
304 p. : ill., map ; 21 cm.
General Note:
First published in Australia by HarperCollins in 2010.
Added Author:
Alex, Alice and Alistair think they are just three ordinary mice, until Alistair mysteriously vanishes. Then Alex and Alice learn a secret about their family: a secret which means Alistair's life is in danger - unless Alex and Alice can find him first. So begins a hair-raising journey.


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Alistair, Alex, and Alice have always been an inseparable (though not necessarily harmonious) triplet of mice&hellipthat is until Alistair is kidnapped one summer's night. While Alistair tries to make heads or tails of falling from the sky onto another young ginger-coloured mouse named Tibby Rose (a most unusual incident on all accounts), Alex and Alice set off to find their missing brother. But in a world where spies abound and an elusive underground organization called FIG is only heard about in shushed bits and pieces, figuring out whom to trust is no small task for this intrepid trio. The key to the mystery seems to be within their grasp, but it only hints at another hair-raising adventure and creates more questions that seemed destined to remain unanswered. Full of warm, clean humour and whippet-quick wit, Frances Watts' new trilogy will effortlessly charm readers and adventurers alike. Chosen as a Children's Book Council of Australia Notable Book 2011

Author Notes

Frances Watts is an Australian children's book author. She is the winner of the Children's Book Council of Australia's Eve Pownall Award for her book Parsley Rabbit's Book About Books. The Song of the Winns was published by HarperCollins Australia in September 2010. She lives in Sydney. You can visit her online at David Francis began his career as an exhibiting artist, and his works are held in many collections. He illustrated the CBC honour Book Ten Little Known Facts About Hippopotamuses and collaborated with author Margaret Wild to create the much-loved Morris the Reinbear. He lives in Sydney, Australia.

Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

First published in Australia, this first book in the Song of the Winns trilogy delivers a winning adventure in the mouse-story genre. When 12-year-old triplet Alistair, a mouse with ginger-colored fur, disappears from his house and lands unexpectedly in another country on top of Tibby Rose, a mouse who shares his unusual coloring, they embark on a search for his home while Alistair's siblings, Alex and Alice, sneak away to look for him. Watts effectively infuses these alternating twin journeys with suspense as the heroes meet circus mice, double-crossing secret agents, owls, and pirates. Along the way, they uncover the significance (and danger) of their ginger fur. Though colorful, the supporting characters are less developed than the protagonists. Readers will be thankful for the map of the region, as the geography feels somewhat jumbled; each chapter opens with a small, delicately inked piece of spot art from Francis. An intriguing thread about a secret resistance movement, clues about the mice's respective parents, and other questions left unanswered pave the way for the subsequent books. Ages 8-12. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

When ginger-colored mouse Alistair disappears, two parallel plots are set in motion. Alistair's adventure involves an action-packed trek home. Meanwhile, Alistair's brother and sister set off to find their sibling and are catapulted into an equally complicated quest. As the alternating stories play out (with an unrelenting cliffhanger pace), the historical and political background of this mouseworld sets up this trilogy launcher. (c) Copyright 2012. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

The first in the Song of the Winns trilogy, Watts' latest introduces a world ruled by mice or at least three countries ruled by them. It begins as a domestic mouse story, featuring three young mice who live cozily with their kindly aunt and uncle. But before the first chapter is over, a ginger-haired young mouse named Alistair has begun an adventure that will involve the whole family. Watts presents the mice as sheltered creatures who can nonetheless handle startling challenges. Not only does the author incorporate the usual animal-adventure high jinks (pirates, spies, circus mice) but she also makes the fur color of mice analogous to skin color in humans and turns an underground resistance movement into a central element of the plot. Watts' analogies are somewhat heavy-handed, but with a late twist, she nicely sets the stage for book two.--Nolan, Abby Copyright 2010 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-6-In this suspenseful and thought-provoking tale, Alex and Alice, two orphaned mice, set off on a journey to find their brother, Alistair, who has vanished in the night. His disappearance may have to do with the fact that he's ginger-colored-an unusual (and sometimes persecuted) trait among mice. Since the story alternates perspectives (one chapter focusing on Alex and Alice, the next focusing on Alistair), readers are able to follow the siblings on their journeys. Along the way, all three mice uncover secrets about their family, particularly their deceased parents. They also learn of the struggle among the countries of Souris, Shetlock, and Gerander, and how this conflict may relate to the prejudice against ginger-colored mice. Narrow escapes and plot twists abound, with almost every chapter ending in a nail-biting cliff-hanger. The suspenseful tone and accessible, polished writing will doubtless keep readers turning the pages. The conclusion is thoroughly satisfying, yet it is clear that many more obstacles face these mice before their story truly comes to an end. Fans of Brian Jacques's "Redwall" series (Philomel) as well as action and adventure aficionados will devour this book and eagerly await the next installment in the series.-Amy Holland, Irondequoit Public Library, NY (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

In this first book of The Song of the Winns trilogy, mouse siblings try to rescue their missing brother and become perilously embroiled in political intrigue involving ginger mice. Since their parents disappeared four years ago, mouse triplets Alex, Alice and Alistair have lived with their aunt and uncle in southern Shetlock, where Alistair's ginger fur marks him as different, "like no other mouse he had ever seen." One night Alistair mysteriously vanishes and reappears atop a ginger mouse named Tibby Rose in Souris, a country north of Shetlock. Determined to return to Shetlock, Alistair and Tibby discover their ginger fur brands them as dangerous spies from Gerander, a border country inhabited by ginger mice and home to FIG, a secret resistance organization intent on restoring Gerander's independence. While Alistair and Tibby flee south on a raft and eventually join a pirate crew, Alex and Alice search for Alistair and are pursued and captured. Fast-moving action alternates between Alistair and Tibby's capers and those of Alex and Alice. Armed with knowledge of their Gerander roots, the four anthropomorphic heroes prepare to join FIG and face future danger with panache. Pen-and-ink spot art highlights chapter details. These latest mouse heroes promise more ripping, gripping mystery and adventure. (map) (Fantasy. 8-12)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.