Space Case gets an awesome review from the New York Times!

When you want to be a writer, there are some things you dream about: Seeing your book on the shelves of a bookstore, hearing from readers who’ve loved your work… And getting a review in the New York Times.  Yes, there are other places that review books, but for me, the Times has always been the gold standard.  (Maybe because I’ve been reading this book review every weekend for a very long time.)

It turns out, the only thing better than getting a review in the Times… is getting a GREAT review in the Times.  If you’d like to read it yourself, just click here.

Or, I could give you some nice excerpts.  Like: “…a delightful and brilliantly constructed ­middle-grade thriller.”  Or: “In a novel with such a highly imagined plot, a protagonist this layered is a rare treat.”  Or even: “At its heart, “Space Case” is about exploration for the sake of exploration, offering up the same wonder as a good long look at the night sky.”

I cannot possibly describe for you all how awesome this is.  It’s simply amazing.

Meanwhile, this has also coincided with my Six Minute interview popping up on LitPick today.  Click here for it.

Have a happy holiday, everyone!  See you in the new year!


Answers to your burning questions about Evil Spy School, part 3


Hey readers!  A lot of you have been emailing me with questions about Evil Spy School, the long-awaited, highly-anticipated third book in the Spy School series.  I often refer you guys to some posts I did a while back with some answers to these questions, but I just realized that those posts are almost a year old.  (Holy cow.  I can’t believe I’ve been working on this book that long.)  So I figured it was time for an update.  If you’ve read those posts, some of these questions might be a bit familiar, but hey, maybe you forgot the answers anyhow.  So here we go:

When is Evil Spy School going to come out?

Right now, the targeted release date in April 21, 2015.

What???  April 21???  That’s like five months away!!!  Aren’t you done writing this darn thing yet?

Yes.  In fact, I finished writing it about six months ago.

Six months ago???

Please stop repeating everything I say.

I can’t help it.  I’m upset.  Why do I have to wait a year after you’ve finished for the book to come out?

For starters, I’d already written some other books — Poached and Space Case — and those were scheduled to come out first.  Second, just because I’m done doesn’t mean that the book is done.  The cover still has to be designed, and a lot of other stuff had to be done.  (See that cover up at the top of this page?  A lot of work went into that.)  Third, to make sure a book gets a good release, you have to pick a release date way ahead of time.  We need to make sure your local bookstore (or library) has had a chance to hear about the book and order it so it’s there when you want it.

I guess that makes sense.  (Disgruntled sigh.)  What happens in this book anyhow?  You might have told me, but I forgot since you haven’t posted about it in a year.

Our hero, Ben Ripley gets to go on his first undercover mission — at SPYDER’s school for young evil spy wannabes.

Hold on a moment.  How’s that supposed to work?  How can Ben go undercover when everyone at SPYDER knows what he looks like?

Ah.  Good question.  But there’s a very simple answer:  As you may recall from the first two books (SPOILER ALERT: DON’T READ ON IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE FIRST TWO BOOKS) SPYDER has made repeated attempts to recruit Ben to the dark side.  So now, he finally is going to accept their offer.  Or at least, he’s going to make them think he’s going to the dark side, when really, he’s going to secretly keep working for the good guys.  Even though he’ll most likely end up dead if SPYDER figures this out.  (This plan wasn’t Ben’s idea.  He just gets railroaded into it.)

Ooh!  Sounds awesome!


Is Erica in it?

Definitely.  She’s not going undercover with Ben, but trust me, she’ll be around.

Are she and Ben ever going to become a couple?

Man, you wouldn’t believe how many times I get asked this question.  They’re not going to start dating any time soon — partly because they’re pretty young and partly because there’s a lot of other complications in their lives.  But their relationship is going to grow.

Who else is going to be in it?  Alexander Hale?


And Zoe?


How about Jawa?  Will he be in it too?


And Chip?

Let’s just say that everyone you’ve met in the previous books will be in this one.

Like Woodchuck Wallace?

Er… no.  Not him.  But almost everyone else is in it.  Plus, there’s some cool new characters as well.

Like who?

Some of the students at Evil Spy School.  I think you’ll really like them.  Even though they’re evil.

Can you tell me more about them?

I’d prefer not to.  I want to save some surprises for the book.

Can you tell me what SPYDER is plotting this time?

Sorry, that’s classified.  For the same reasons as the previous answer.

Fine.  Be that way.  Can you send me an advanced copy?


Can you write me into the book?

No.  Like I said, it’s done.

Well, can’t you just slip a mention of my name in?  Or mention my friend/family/a product I really like?

I’m sorry, but I can’t.  I get asked this question more than just about anything else (except maybe ‘When is Spy School going to be turned into a movie?’).  The problem is that I can’t put everyone who requests a mention in, because the book would then have thousands of random characters in it and read like the phone book.  So, sadly, the solution is that to be fair to everyone, I can’t put anyone who asks into the books.  Or mention your friends.  Or your pets.  Or give the characters names that you think would be funny.  Sorry.

When is Spy School going to be turned into a movie?

I told you I get this question a lot.  The answer is:  I don’t know.  I’m talking to Hollywood people about it.  The neat thing now is, lots of kids in Hollywood are reading the book, and some of those kids have parents who are movie producers, and so now some producers are getting interested because their kids like the book so much.  We’ll see how all that works out, though.

Isn’t there some way to speed up the process of getting a movie made?

Sure.  The more books that sell, the more interested Hollywood gets.  If Spy School sells millions of copies, the movie business will very likely turn it into a movie.  So just get a million of your closest friends to buy the book, and it’ll end up being a movie!  It’s simple, really.

Are you going to write any more books in this series?

Yes.  In fact, I am just starting work on the fourth one.

Really?  Awesome!  What’s that one about?

I’m not quite ready to share that information yet.  I’m still developing the story.

Do you know when it’s going to come out?

Around fall 2016.

Oh for crying out loud.  Why so long?

Because I have two more books coming out after Evil Spy School.  Big Game, the next book in the FunJungle series, will be out next fall.  And then Spaced Out, the sequel to Space Case, will be out in spring of 2016.

Can’t you write any faster?




My promotion with Carl Hiaasen

My avid readers out there might be aware that I’m a huge fan of Carl Hiaasen.  I first discovered Carl through his books for adults (he wasn’t writing middle grade as well back then) and was blown away by his combination of humor, crime and eco-consciousness.  His writing has certainly influenced my own.  For example, the fact that my FunJungle series is a combination of humor, crime and eco-consciousness.  I know there are plenty of writers out there who claim that their heroes are authors like Dickens, Austen and Shakespeare.  My hero is Hiassen.  Quite simply, as a young writer, he was who I wanted to be.  And he’s also the writer whom I have re-read the most.  I read his books again and again, and they’re always tremendous fun.

So it has been an incredible joy to learn that Barnes & Noble considers me worthy enough a writer to promote alongside Carl.  As of this weekend, this is how my books appear at B&N’s all over the country:



Look at that!  I even got top billing!  (Although this is probably because my name comes first alphabetically.)  This is really a massive thrill for me.  Like I’m a minor league baseball player who just got called up to the big leagues to play with his hero.

I took a few more photos with my favorite bookstore models:





Oh man, this is awesome.


World Domination Update

For the millions of you who are regular fans of this blog, you know that, in the past, I have made no secret of my desire to have my books spread throughout the United States.  But now, the United States appears to be fully conquered by the Gibbs Publishing machine.  There is nary a bookstore in this country where you can’t find my books, perhaps even shelves full of them.  (And if there is a bookstore out there near you without my books, please hector, badger and bullyrag them until they submit and start carrying them.)

So… what’s next?  World Domination, obviously.

I have started to get reports from around the globe of my books showing up in various places.  A friend of mine at the US Embassy in Athens, Greece, reports multiple sightings in that city.  (Yes, I have friends who do cool things like work at the US Embassy in Athens.)  In just the last 24 hours, I have received word of Spy School being read by a young boy named Nicholas in the bush of Queensland, Australia, and pictorial evidence of Belly Up from a young man named Jesse at the American Library in Paris:




OK, admittedly, there’s nothing about this photo that says ‘Paris’ at all.  No Eiffel Tower out the window behind it or anything like that.  But the book is in Paris, I promise.

But there’s bigger news on the world domination front.  My books are starting to be published in other countries, in other languages.  Like South Korea!  Here’s what Spy School and Spy Camp look like there:

photo 1


In case you’re wondering why both books have a #1 on them, it took me a while to figure out myself — since I can’t read Korean.  Turns out, the books are so long when translated into Korean that each is split into two separate books, which means I technically have 4 books out in South Korea.  Spy School is on the left.  Spy Camp is on the right.  I think.  I’m assuming the greenery on the gloves is some sort of foliage.  Or maybe salad.

Now, here’s the super-cool anime-influenced cover of Spy School in Japanese!


And then, there’s this Scandanavian version of The Last Musketeer (featuring the least Scandanavian looking hero ever):

photo 2


I addition, my books are going to be in China, Germany, Japan, Turkey, Hungary, the Netherlands and many other countries.  I just don’t have those copies yet.  (And if you’re in an English-speaking country, there’s a good chance they’re already there.)  But when I get them, I’ll share them.  I promise.


The Evil Spy School cover, finally revealed!

I know a lot of you have been waiting for this for a long time.  I’ve had a hard time keeping it from you.  My amazing artist Lucy Cummins pretty much nailed this on the first attempt months ago, but there was still a bit of tweaking to be done.  So without any further ado, here it is!



Evil Spy School cover to be released tomorrow!

The release will officially take place on the Mundie Kids blog right here, tomorrow.  (That’s 9/18.)  So check back in to check it out!


The publishing plan for 2015 — and 2016!

A couple months ago, I wrote about the possibility that I might publish three books in 2015.  Well, it turns out, that was just crazy talk.  (Or maybe, crazy typing?)

Turns out, writing, designing, publishing and marketing three books a year is a lot of work.  Plus, my touring schedule has stepped up quite a bit.  (I’m not just doing those events you see over in that calendar on the sidebar to the right.  I also do a lot of school visits, which I don’t bother posting because, well… unless you go to those schools, you’re not invited.)  So there wasn’t quite enough time to put out three books of the same insanely high quality you’ve come to expect from me.  However, don’t cry.  Okay, maybe cry a little, but don’t get too worked up.  Because my fine publisher Simon & Schuster and I have got the next 2.5 years of your reading life planned out.

First of all, as I’m sure you’re aware, on September 16, Space Case, the first book in my newest Moon Base Alpha series, will be out.

Then, next spring — on April 21, 2015 — Evil Spy School will be in stores.

Next fall, probably some time around September, the third FunJungle mystery will be out.  (Right now the working title is Big Game.)

In spring 2016, Spaced Out, the second in the Moon Base Alpha series, will be in stores.

And in fall 2016, a mere two years from now, the fourth Spy School book will be out.

As you can probably see, there’s a pattern here:  Every 6 months or so, a new book comes out, rotating between the three series.  Hopefully, we’ll continue like this well beyond 2016.  If anything changes, though, I’ll let you know.


First look at Space Case’s Moon Base Alpha!

It’s only about a month until the launch of ‘Space Case’!

I have just received my first copies of the book, and it looks absolutely awesome. I know I’ve posted the cover image here before, but here’s the book itself (with a bit of a ‘2001: A Space Odyssey reference’)  If you don’t know the reference, go ask your parents and they will explain to you why this picture is so clever and hilarious.



The photo still doesn’t quite do it justice, as you can’t see the sparkliness of it.  (I should point out that the book does not come with adoring apes.)

I should also point out that the first reviews have started to come in and that Kirkus gave the book a starred review!  What’s that? you ask.  Well, it’s very good.  Just imagine that Kirkus is the most important book-reviewing company in the world, and that, rather than use a system of 1-5 stars like many people do (like Amazon and Goodreads) where one star means ‘crappy’ and 5 stars means ‘excellent’, Krikus only uses one star.  You can still get a perfectly good unstarred review from them (which I have) but a star means ‘really, really good’.

Finally, here’s a sneak peak at the inside of the book itself.  For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past few months, Space Case takes place in… space.  On the moon, to be exact.  On Moon Base Alpha, to be even more exact.  And since Moon Base Alpha is so important to the story, a map had to be done of it.  So, here it is…



Excited yet?  It’s coming.  And keep an eye here for details about the cities I’ll be visiting!


Why is it so hard to find the Last Musketeer series?

A lot of readers have been very kind to write to me, letting me know that they have enjoyed my Last Musketeer series, but there are probably many of you who don’t even know that Last Musketeer series even exists — or maybe you do know about it, but you’ve had trouble finding it at your local bookstore.

If so, here’s why:

The Last Musketeer series was published by a different publisher than my other books. Belly Up, Poached, Spy School, Spy Camp and my upcoming Space Case were all published by Simon & Schuster, which has done a really wonderful job designing and marketing my books. Meanwhile, the publisher of the Last Musketeer didn’t do such a good job with designing and marketing.

(For those of you who don’t even know about this series, a quick update: The Last Musketeer is a trilogy I wrote after Belly Up but before Spy School. It’s about a 12-year-old boy, Greg Rich, who ends up traveling back in time 400 years to Paris and uniting the three musketeers — who are only teenagers as well — for their first adventure. There’s lots of excitement and adventure and swashbuckling.)

Marketing is extremely important in selling books. You may not realize it, but Simon & Schuster has done a great job of creating an author ‘brand’ for me. By which I mean that my books all have a similar ‘look,’ from the cover design to the colors to the shape and size. If you see the cover for Space Case, even though you might not know I wrote it, it kind of looks like the other books that I wrote, which might make you stop and pick it up:


Have you ever heard the phrase ‘Don’t judge a book by it’s cover’? Well, that phrase is really about people, not books. Everyone judges books by their covers. If a book has a cover that’s not very eye-catching or interesting, they don’t pick up the book.

So… Here’s the cover for ‘The Last Musketeer.’

LastMusketeerHC C

Not exactly eye-catching, is it? I don’t mind the title font, which has an ‘Indiana Jones’ quality to it, but I find the cover dark, old-fashioned and somewhat confusing. That’s obviously Greg in the foreground, but I’m not sure if the people behind him are bad guys who are chasing him or good guys who are just running along with him — and I’m the author. There’s nothing about this cover art that tells you much of anything about the story. And though there’s a catchphrase, it’s also confusing: ‘In a dangerous time, he’ll need more than a sword.’ What does that mean? Your guess is as good as mine.

You could probably also argue that the title doesn’t even make that much sense.  If it’s the first book in a trilogy, why is it called ‘The Last Musketeer’?  Why isn’t it called ‘The First Musketeer’?

I made all these arguments years ago, because I had already seen the cover art for Belly Up — which I loved — and I thought that this cover was not only uninteresting, but also didn’t link thematically to Belly Up. By which I mean that if someone looked at the Belly Up cover and the Last Musketeer cover, they wouldn’t realize that both books were by the same author.

The company that published The Last Musketeer told me I was wrong, and since I was new to publishing, I believed them. But guess what?

I was right. I quickly found that, even at bookstores where they knew me and loved Belly Up, no one realized that The Last Musketeer series was also written by me. (Yes, they’d see that it had the same author name on it, but they often assumed there must be another Stuart Gibbs.) The publisher also didn’t promote the books very much, and so a lot of bookstores simply stopped carrying them.

Which means there’s a good chance that, if you want to get The Last Musketeer for yourself, you either have to ask your local bookstore to order it for you specially — or you have to buy it on-line.

Personally, as an author, I’d prefer that you buy it from your local bookstore, as I think bookstores are awesome. But if you don’t have a local bookstore anywhere near you (which is sadly the case many places) then you can just click here to link to where you can order from the publisher.

And while you’re at it, you can get the other two books in the series, Traitor’s Chase and Double Cross:

LastMusketeer2HC C


Although I should point out that both these books are only available in hardback, which is another reason not so many stores carry them.

It’s possible that, as my other books start to do better, and more and more people ask for The Last Musketeer in their local bookstores, that the books will start to be sold in more places again.  Every year or so, I ask the publisher of The Last Musketeer if they wouldn’t mind redoing the covers to make them more like my other books, so that they’ll be more appealing to book buyers — and thus book sellers — but we’ll have to see how that pans out.  In the meantime, if you’ve read Belly Up and Poached and Spy School and Spy Camp and can’t wait for Space Case or Evil Spy School to come out, might I recommend The Last Musketeer?  It might be a little harder to find, but it’s still a good book!


Answers to Your Burning Questions About Space Case

Space Case, my newest book, will be out in stores on September 16.  I’m proud to announce that it has just received a starred review from Kirkus, which is a pretty big deal.  (They’re some big shot reviewers, so a starred review from them is a like a five star review from anyone else.)  Many of you have been asking for more information on it, so’s another exciting installment of “Answers to Your Burning Questions About…”


What the heck is Space Case about?

It’s the first book in a new mystery series — and this one takes place on the moon.  The idea is that, 25 years from now, we have finally started colonizing the moon.  The first families have been sent to live at Moon Base Alpha, and the first kids in space have discovered that space travel isn’t nearly as amazing as Star Wars and Star Trek have led us to believe it will be.  Twelve-year-old Dash, in particular, is frustrated by the awful food, small living space, horrendous toilets — and the fact that the only other kid there his age is kind of a dork.  Then, the base’s renowned doctor dies mysteriously on the surface of the moon.  NASA claims its and accident.  Dash suspects foul play.  So he investigates to find out what really happened and soon finds his own life is in danger as well.

Why are you writing a series that takes place on the moon?

One of my very closest friends was an astronaut.  (Yes, an astronaut.  Coolest job ever.)  Through him, I was lucky enough to tour the Johnson Space Center behind the scenes, get VIP passes to space shuttle launches and send things cool things up to the space station so they could be photographed with earth in the background.  Like this:


When my editor and agent found out I knew an astronaut, they immediately suggested that I should write a book with him.  That didn’t quite work out, because he was too busy, but I was able to take everything about space travel that I’d learned from him and come up with an idea.  One of the big things I’d learned was that traveling in space isn’t quite as glamorous as I had always assumed it was.  For example, if you’ve ever seen an IMAX movie about space travel, the spacecraft look enormous inside, but in real life, they’re claustrophobically small.  In Spy School, I found a lot of comedy in playing up the differences between the spy world of movies and what spying is like in real life.  I thought it’d be fun to do the same thing with space.

So… it’s going to be funny?

Yes. Although there’s also going to be action and suspense.  And the book takes place in a somewhat more realistic world than Spy School.  I don’t really know what the future of space travel will be like, but I made the most educated guess I could.

Was it fun to write something set in the future?

Actually, that was the hardest part of the book.  Writing something only 25 years in the future is kind of weird, because the potential for getting things wrong is enormous.  My readers are still going to be around in 25 years.  Hopefully, people will still be reading this book in 25 years.  So anything that is prescient will seem cool — but anything I get wrong will seem idiotic, probably.  Right before I started writing, I watched the second Back to the Future movie.  (For those of you who haven’t seen it, the movie takes place in 1985, and they travel to the distant future — of 2015.)  They weren’t really shooting for reality in that movie, but it’s amazing how far off they were.  Almost nothing they imagined for 2015 has happened yet.  They have flying cars everywhere.  And flying skateboards.  (Or hoverboards, really.)  And instant food. And all sorts of other ridiculous stuff.  And then, at some point, the hero runs right by a bank of pay phones.  They’re videophones, but still… These guys predicted flying cars, but no one had any idea the smartphone was coming.

Will I still like this book if I don’t like science fiction?

I think so.  It’s only science fiction in the sense that it’s set in the future.  Really, it’s a mystery with some action and adventure and humor in it, just like  my other books.  I’m guessing that, even if you’re not a fan of sci-fi, you’ve at least wondered what it might be like to live on another planet, or to travel somewhere on a rocket.  I know I did as a kid.  So this book hopefully taps into that wonder and expands on it.

So now, with this, you’re going to have three book series going: Belly Up, Spy School and Space Case.  Why can’t you be like other authors and just stick with one series?

Because there’s too much fun stuff to write about.  I love writing, but the idea of only doing one series over and over and over again isn’t that appealing.  I love the Belly Up series and the Spy School series, so I can promise you I’m not abandoning them for Space Case.  In fact, I’m already at work on new books in both those series that will come out next year.  But for now, I like the idea of jumping around between worlds.

You’re not going to start a fourth series, are you?

Not for middle grade.

That’s a kind of a cagey answer.  Are you planning something for YA?

Let’s just say I have ideas.  But it might be a while before I act on any of them.

Is there anything else I should know about Space Case?

I think that, out of all my books, this one might have the best ending of all of them.  I was pretty excited when I came up with it.

What’s so exciting about it?

I’ve already said to much.  You’ll just have to wait until September to find out.

Aw, man.  That’s months away!

Yes, but it will give you something to look forward to when school starts.