All posts by Stuart Gibbs

The Spy School Entrance Exam is coming September 24!

September 24 2024 will be a very special day for Spy School fans.

Because not just one… but TWO Spy School books will be released on that day.

As I have already posted here, Spy School Goes Wild, the twelfth book in the series, will be available on that date. But my publisher, Simon & Schuster, and I have something else planned for that day as well:

For the first time, you can see what’s on the test to get into Spy School — and try to qualify yourself!

If you like puzzles, oh my, this is the book for you. Because Jeff Chen, one of the most brilliant puzzle makers on the planet, has created dozens of wonderful puzzles to challenge and amuse you: crosswords, sudoko, word searches, secret codes to crack, and much, much more.

But if you don’t like puzzles — or have maybe never even tried them — then this is also the book for you, because Jeff has also created training modules to teach you how to do all the different types of puzzles. Each section is introduced by a different character from Spy School, which means that for the first time, you’ll get to read something from the POV of characters besides Ben.

And beyond that, there is plenty of NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN SPY SCHOOL BONUS MATERIAL: tips for surviving the school, campus maps and lots of surprises.

I think you’re going to love it.

CLICK HERE TO PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY TODAY!

Here’s the post you’ve been waiting for: The cover, title and plot of Spy School 12.

A lot of people have been writing to me, asking when this reveal was going to come, noting that often, I have revealed the new SS book much earlier in the year of release. Sometimes, it just takes a bit longer for everything to be fall into place.

So here we go. Allow me to present the new cover of the twelfth book in the Spy School series:

When Ben Ripley’s latest mission goes horribly wrong, he ends up lost in a dangerous wilderness without any of his support team — and stuck with his longtime nemesis, Murray Hill. To make matters even worse, a new, devious enemy is hatching an evil plan and plotting revenge against Ben. Now, Ben must figure out how to survive — and how to thwart the evil scheme — before it’s too late.

Available September 24.

Click here to pre-order your copy today!

Please be aware that I know you probably still have questions about what happens in the book. I want you to have questions about it. Because i want you to read it. But I am not going to answer any questions about what happens in the book, because doing that will spoil the fun of reading it. Therefore, if you do write a question asking me for more info, I am just going to ask you to read this post again.

Just in time for the holidays: the brand new Once Upon A Tim boxed set!

No more racking your brain to come up with the perfect gift for everyone in your family! The Once Upon A Tim boxed set will be available on November 28, 2023 — although you can preorder it now! It includes the first four books in the series: Once Upon A Tim, The Labyrinth of Doom, The Sea of Terror, and The Quest of Danger — along with a lovely, amusingy-decorated, mass-produced cardboard box.

Click here to order your copy!

Looking for writing advice? Check out my free on-line video series, Mission: Write!

I am thrilled to finally announce a project that I have been working on with Simon & Schuster for the past year:

Whether you’re a young writer looking for tips, a teacher hoping to educate your students about creative writing, or a homeschooler looking for some fun new lessons, Mission: Write should appeal to you.  There are currently six videos (with more coming in the future) hosted by me — and accompanying lesson plans written by the brilliant educator, Rose Brock.

Best of all, it’s free!  So take a look for yourself.  Just click here to watch and learn!

Hope Wins now available!

I, along with many of my favorite writers (and probably yours), have contributed to this amazing anthology:

In a collection of personal stories and essays, award-winning and bestselling authors write about how hope always wins, even in the darkest of times.  Here are just a few of the people who contributed to this book: Tom Angleberger, Sarah Mlynowski, Max Brallier, Julie Buxbaum, Pablo Cartaya, J. C. Cervantes, Rex Ogle, Matt de la Peña, Adam Gidwitz, R.L. Stine, Veera Hiranandani, Hena Khan, Karina Yan Glaser, James Ponti, Soman Chainani, Pam Munoz Ryan, Christina Soontornvat and Gordon Korman.  And oh yeah, the cover art is by Vashti Harrison, and the whole book is edited by the amazing Rose Brock.

I have read all these stories, and they are all truly wonderful.  If you have ever wanted to know more about the lives of your favorite authors, this is your chance.

The book is now available everywhere books are sold. Get it now by clicking here.

Once Upon A Tim just got a rave review from the New York Times

This should be pretty obvious from the title of this post, but Once Upon A Tim just got a rave review from the New York Times.

You can read the whole thing by clicking here, but here are some notable quotes:

“Fans of heraldic silliness like “The Princess Bride” and “Shrek” will delight in “Once Upon a Tim,” a charming take on the traditional knightly adventure.”
“The book’s fun comes from Gibbs’s deployment of deadpan humor and boisterous slapstick. Its heart lies in a clever subversion of type.”
“Writing may be magic, but so is reading.”
I should point out that Booklist also gave Tim a great review as well:
“This giddy romp through a medieval setting, complete with menacing trolls and gigantic, bloodthirsty butterflies, is the start of a promising series.”

Excited?  Ready for a good story?  Then just click here to order the book!

Also, I am happy with any good review, especially ones from readers.  So if you have enjoyed Tim (or any of my books) feel free to post a positive review on Goodreads.  Just click here.

(For tips on how to write a good review, check out this blog post.)

I am pleased to announce I have joined the advisory council of Conservation Nation

As anyone who visits this site knows, I am a huge supporter of the conservation movement and do my best in my books (particularly the FunJungle series) to educate readers about environmental issues.

So I am pleased to announce that I have joined the advisory board of Conservation Nation. This organization has two goals:

  1. To provide grants and support to emerging and established conservationists from underrepresented groups who are doing wildlife-saving work.
  2. To engage and inspire underserved high school students to explore careers in conservation through programs that offer experiential learning, access to field professionals, and micro grants for projects close to home.

You can learn more about this great organization by clicking here.

Or you can learn how to get involved by clicking here.

I had my first meeting as part of the advisory committee on education yesterday and I could not be more impressed by the people who work for CN, the plans they have and their commitment to both the planet and to the next generation of conservationists.

Stop Posting Spoilers — and Other Tips for Writing An On-Line Review

The last time I wrote a blog post about how to write and on line reviews was nearly nine years ago.  Back then, I was really explaining to visitors to my site how to post a review on Goodreads or Amazon.

I realize that, these days, most people (or at least most people who read my books) know how to do this.  But it has come to my attention that there are several things many people do in writing their reviews that annoy other people.  So I figured I would write a new post, trying to correct some of these problems.

1. DO NOT PUT SPOILERS IN YOUR REVIEW!!!!

There is not a single person on earth who appreciates having a review spoil a surprise in a book that they want to read.  NO ONE!  And writing ‘Warning: Spoilers Ahead’ does not mitigate the damage.

It is very very easy to not put a spoiler in your review.  Simply don’t share anything from the book that you were surprised to find out.  Of course, this not only applies to writing reviews on websites, but also comments on this webpage — or any other.

And, for the record, I am not only talking to amateur reviewers here.  There are plenty of professional — or at least seasoned — reviewers who spoil things in their reviews all the time.  Don’t do it.  Or random people will hate you.

2. ROUND UP.

Just about every site only gives you five options for reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 stars.  Admittedly,  having only five options lacks nuance.  That said, it is staggering to see how many times someone will give a four star review and say, ‘I really think this should be 4.5 stars.’  If you ever feel like this, round up!  That’s just basic math, people.  And do you know what it costs you to give something 5 stars instead of 4?  NOTHING.

3. BE OPEN-MINDED

If you don’t like the subject matter that a book veers into, that doesn’t mean it deserves a one star review.   Because that isn’t really a review of the book at all; it’s your own personal issues coming through.

If you don’t believe in evolution and a book mentions it, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad book. If you are uneasy with the concept of homosexuality and a book has a gay character, that doesn’t make it a bad book.  If you feel that a book shouldn’t use a synonym for ‘buttocks’ and it does, that doesn’t make it a bad book.  (In that case, try reviewing the book for the 69,999 words in it that didn’t offend you, rather than the 1 that did.)  A bad review based on your own personal issues says more about you than it does about the book.

4. BE NICE TO OTHERS WHO WILL READ THE REVIEW

Recently, I have had issues with people purposefully posting spoilers — or even fake spoilers — simply to upset people.  That’s not cool.

That said, if you really didn’t like a book of mine, you should feel free to write a review saying that you didn’t like it.  Personally, I find well-written reviews explaining what a person’s problems with my book were to be very helpful.  (Although I certainly like reading 5-star reviews more.)

5. DON’T GIVE A BOOK A BAD REVIEW AS A JOKE

You’re probably thinking to yourself ‘Why is Stuart even writing this?  What kind of knucklehead would post a bad review as a joke?’

This one, for starters:

And that’s not the only time i have found a review like this.  I can’t believe I have to say this, but: Don’t do this!  Most people don’t read every single review a book has.  They just look at the cumulative ratings.  A once star review doesn’t get counted as a joke.  It gets counted as the worst possible review.

Also… This isn’t even remotely funny.  Would you think it was funny if a teacher gave you an F on a test and then said, “I was just joking!”  I am guessing that you would not.  So please, folks, if you’re going to make a joke on-line, don’t do it at someone else’s expense — and also, try to be funny.

Okay.  I’ve said my piece.  Thanks for reading this.

Bad news about the Spy School movie — for now

Hey everyone –

I know you have been waiting a long time for an update about the Spy School movie — and I am sure this is not what you were hoping for.  It’s certainly not what I was hoping for.

After 54 weeks of doing nothing with the movie script, Disney decided that they were not going to move forward with the Spy School movie.

Why?  I don’t really have a great answer for that.  I was told that Disney had some concerns with the story involving kids in real danger — which you’d think they would have been able to figure out was part of the plot long ago, given the title.

Sadly, this kind of thing happens a lot in Hollywood.  As I keep saying, it is very hard to get a movie made.

This does not mean the movie will never get made.  My agents can now try to set the project up at another movie studio or streaming service.  We will see what happens.

In the meantime, feel free to write angry letters to Disney or cancel your Disney + accounts in protest.

Answers to all your questions about the Spy School Movie

Hi everyone –

I have been getting a LOT of mail lately from people wanting to know if there are any updates on the Spy School Movie.  And i realize that a lot of the posts about the movie are quite old — because this process has been going on for a very long time.  So some of the questions I’m including are the same ones I answered before, but maybe this post will become a one-stop point for learning about the movie.

Can you please give me an update on what is going on with the movie?

Sadly, there are none.  I turned my last draft into the studio on January 31, 2020.  As of this date, that was 10 1/2 months ago.  I have not heard a things from Disney since.  Part of this is due to COVID.  Few companies have been hurt as badly by the pandemic as Disney.  But still, this is an insanely long time to wait for an answer.  I know you are frustrated that things are stalled, but trust me, no one is as frustrated by this as I am.  In addition, my agents are frustrated and angry too.  I wish I had a better update for you, but I don’t.

So does this mean the movie isn’t getting made?

I really don’t know.  I suppose there is still a chance that Disney might make it.  And if they say no, then I can take it to another studio to see if they will make it.  But for right now, all I can do is wait to see what Disney has to say.

Is the movie going to stick closely to the book?

That is my plan.  I have written three drafts of the screenplay.  So far, it stays close to the book, although since it is a movie and not a book, I have made some changes.  They’re not huge, and some might be quite funny, but they were necessary.

Will there be sequels based on the other books?

Ideally, but that depends on how the first movie does.  There is a slight chance that, if Disney loves the script, they will decide to move ahead with a sequel before the first movie comes out, but I wouldn’t count on that.

Is the movie going to be live action or animated?

Live action.

Are you going to do just one book for each movie, or combined books into one movie?

The idea is to do one book per movie.

If the movie does get made, when is the absolute earliest that the movie come out?

If the movie was given the go-ahead tomorrow, it probably couldn’t start shooting for several months, and then that would take a few months, and then it would have to be edited and scored and such so… the very earliest would probably be 18 months from now — and that’s a best case scenario.  Don’t expect anything until 2022, if not later.

Is it going to be released in theaters — or could it show up on Disney Plus?

Personally, I would love for it to be released theatrically — so that’s what we are shooting for.  But the fact is, Disney needs a lot of content for Disney Plus, so that remains an option.  (Also, if it was made for Disney Plus, there is a chance that sequels could be started earlier.)

Are the characters going to look the same as I imagine them?

Probably not.  Because I have no control over how you imagine the characters.  You may have noticed that I don’t describe the characters in much detail in my books.  I leave a lot to your imagination.  Personally, I hope that the casting director selects the best possible actors for the roles and doesn’t get hung up on looks.  (You might have noticed that I never describe the ethnicity of many characters, including Ben, so personally, I’m open to most of them being any ethnicity.)  Anyhow, the chance of an actor or actress looking exactly like the way you imagine the character is virtually nonexistent.  So don’t get upset if the actors don’t look exactly as you’d hoped.

But you’re going to release a graphic novel in 2022.  After that, won’t we know what the characters look like?

No.  You will know that Anjan, the artist of the graphic novel, thinks the characters look like.  But that doesn’t mean that is what the characters have to look like.

If the movie does film, can I be in it?  I’m really good at acting.  Maybe you could tell the casting director about me?

Honestly, I won’t have any say in casting at all.  I know that might sound wrong to you, but here’s the best explanation I can give:

Actors are hired by casting directors.  That is the casting director’s job, and they train for years to do it.  So, if I were to call a casting director and say, “Hey, you should consider this kid for the movie,” that would be like the casting director coming up to me and saying, “Hey, would you mind if I wrote a chapter of your book for you?”  The casting director has their job.  I have mine.  It is not cool for me to try to tell them how to do their job.

Thus, I have no idea if there will be an open casting call or when that would even happen.  My bet is, it is unlikely.  If there is an open casting call, I will post about it on this blog.

Could you write to me personally and let me know if there is open casting?

Er…No.  I get asked this a lot and, not to sound like a jerk, but I have a lot to do.  Emailing every one of the thousands of kids (and a lot of parents) who has asked me to contact them directly would take me weeks.  I do not have time to do that.  I have books to write.

All right.  That’s the info I have right now.  Again, I really, really wish I had more of an update.  Hopefully, I will have more news soon.

In the mean time, stay safe, have a happy holiday, and keep on reading.