Secret Agent Josephine in Paris is Not a Book for Boys


My friend Brenda emailed me a while back about her latest children’s book coming out in November called Secret Agent Josephine in Paris. Brenda has authored and/or illustrated 11 other children’s books, but this is the first time I’ve agreed to review one. I’m selfish. I knew the advanced copy would be a great addition to the library at school even though it is paperback (the official release is in hardback and ebook only).

There’s a new super spy in town! Secret Agent Josephine may not look like a super mom, but when she goes to work, bad guys better watch out for her crafty tricks. In this Secret Agent Josephine adventure, our heroine travels to Paris to scope out some new craft supplies and stop an infamous art thief. Donning disguises and stocking up on the tools of her trade, Secret Agent Josephine tracks the thief through the streets of Paris. But when she’s spotted, will her crafting skills be able to get her out of a jam?


The artsy and creative girls at school loved it. I had the 6th grade class on Wednesday and one of the students thought it was a new book to check out. I hadn’t written this post yet, nor had I told the volunteer helping me that it was off limits, so she allowed the 6th grader to check it out. I had to then go to the 6th grader and ask for the book back. I’m a book stealing dream crusher. I told her she could have it next week, but I still felt like a jerk.

I wasn’t sure Mikey and Nico would be as thrilled since it’s a book about a mom and a girl, so I asked them if they wanted to take pictures holding a book about a Secret Agent.

Did they?! Secret Agent?!

“Hold on, mom,” said Mikey. “Let me go put on my Secret Agent outfit.”

Ten minutes later I heard Nico yell, “I can’t find my Secret Agent hat! I can’t find my Secret Agent hat!”

They arrived, without Secret Agent hats, ready to roll. Since Nico had a Miami Vice vibe thanks to Mikey’s First Communion suit jacket, I had the idea to recreate this image with Mikey playing the part of a book holding Tubbs.

But this is the boy who almost had a coronary over a One Direction pillow, so when he saw the cover he refused. He passed the book to Nico, and when he saw the cover of the book (pretty mom and cute little girl in Paris–with a cat, no less) he had a similar reaction.

SAJ, 1

That’s the book flying.

It’s about the time I said, “You both are going to hold that book and by God, you’re going to love doing it!”

SAJ, 2

SAJ, 3

SAJ, 4

At one point Mikey took a peek at the back, but not because he was interested. It was just there, you see.


“Open it up,” I said. “Look at the pictures! My friend did all of that. Aren’t they cool? So bright and detailed, not at all babyish, right? Show me one of the pages you like so I can take a picture.”

Mikey opened the book without looking. Awesome.

SAJ, 5

SAJ, 6

The pictures really are beautiful. It’s a nice change from the matte, washed out colors you see in books today and it fits perfectly with the crafting storyline. When I think of crafts, I think bright, happy colors.

SAJ, 7

Oh, what’s this? Did some boys deign to look down at the book?

SAJ, 8

Surely such a girly book is of no interest. Watch Nico inch his way closer.

SAJ, 9

SAJ, 10

SAJ, 11

SAJ, 12

SAJ, 13

Careful, Nico, that smile makes it look like you’re enjoying the story.

SAJ, 14

Might as well finish it since we got this far, I guess.

SAJ, 15

Mikey, having realized he might have been wrong for the first time in his life, passed out from shock.

Secret Agent Josephine in Paris
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | anywhere ebooks are sold

26 Responses to “Secret Agent Josephine in Paris is Not a Book for Boys”
  1. Juliette says:

    Jules, this book review is HILARIOUS! I love it!
    And they are so totally Miami Vice here, awesome!

    • Jules says:

      What’s so funny is they have no idea who Miami Vice is. When I was writing this post I asked my husband who the “other guy” was in Miami Vice–not Don Johnson and immediately he said, “Tubbs. It was Crockett and Tubbs.” Well! Okay then. (It was his favorite show.)

  2. Lydia says:

    This just might be the best book review I’ve ever read (after your GoodReads review of Eat. Pray. Love.).

    Thanks for the laugh this morning.

    (Also, the book looks awesome. I think my crafty nephew might like it.)

  3. meg says:

    Oh yeah. I thought I was slick and tried to sneak in a “Sisters Grimm” book into a stack from the library this summer. It never made it past the book bag. Stubborn boys!

    Love the spy gear, and the book looks like a lot of fun. Must show the nieces!

  4. Those faces are gold–and the shift in them does more to sell me on the book than anything you might have written!

    As for the whole girl book/boy book thing: I get that, in general, there are books that appeal more to one gender than another. But I think that as kids get older in school, we expect that girls will be OK with “boy” books (see: most of the traditional canon of literature) and we don’t have the same expectation of boys. If a young woman/girl can’t appreciate, say, Hemingway, there’s something wrong with the young woman/girl. If a young man/boy can’t appreciate, say, Wharton, well, you know, The Age of Innocence is about stuff that just doesn’t interest most males. (Nevermind that both wrote about some pretty similar themes.)

    I love that your photos capture the power of a good book to capture a reader–even badass Secret Agents who don’t want to be caught.

    • Jules says:

      I know I’m going to sound like a broken record since I’ve said this before a million times in the comments, and I really should just write a post and get it out of my system, but my biggest pet peeve with YA lit these days is this idea of the “strong female character” where the female character is really just a character with a female name and stereotypical male traits–and not even the good ones. Violence, aggression, lack of empathy…apparently to be a “strong female” you need to be a male sociopath. Graceling is far and beyond the worst offender. Every time that book pops up on a “Great Books for Girls!” list I want to scream.

  5. Shannon says:

    Best post EVER! The pictures you took were fantastic and capturing them actually (shhhhh) getting into a girl book is priceless. What age range would you say this is for? I have a fourth grader and am looking for something new for Christmas.

    Rita brings up a great point about the literature taught later. . . . . I’ll have to dig up my old reading lists and see where it fell but I’m pretty sure I’d now call most of it “boy books.”

    • Jules says:

      You’re never too old for picture books, but if you’re trying to get your 4th grader to read chapter books, this isn’t the book to do it. I would say 2nd-3rd is the ideal age range.

  6. Amy says:

    Hilarious! And adorable.

  7. Jenn says:

    Love this! Love the power of a good book! The photos of them getting drawn in- wonderful!

  8. Andrea Howe says:

    You’ve gotta be kidding me!? Those pictures! Your review is going to blow my review out of the water. Posting mine now. Hmph!

  9. jasi says:

    Really cute review. But I agree with Rita. I have girl and a boy and they play together really well. Recently (2nd grade) my daughter has been pretty blue that her male friends will no longer play her games on play dates. My daughter just happens to like Star Wars and cooking (play cafe) a whole lot. But mothers of boys generally (I’d say 5 of the 6 in our sampling) just shrug and say “Boys will be boys”, while the mother of girls at my son’s play dates encourage their daughter to learn new games, to pick up a truck. It’s a weird dichotomy. On one hand you want children to pursue their own interests without being told to like something they don’t. But on the other you want them to be good friends and play fairly (your game, my game).

    Also, now I’m buying this book. I’m pretty sure both of my kids will enjoy it. Great pictures!

    • Jules says:

      I’ve tried for years to get Mikey and Nico into ballet, but no dice so far. I don’t think it’s going to happen, either. BUT! Nico has a little boy who is in ballet in his class and I love it. I love that Nico gets exposed to that. I also had them watch En Pointe, a ballet documentary about kids in ballet that they both really enjoyed.

      • jasi says:

        Ballet was a hard sell for my particular dude too. He felt it too stuffy for his tastes, I think my daughter liked it for a bit but prefers lyrical/hip hop combo. We’re totally going to try this combo for lil man with his sister. Movement is awesome! Don’t give up!

  10. LauraC says:

    Thank you for brightening my day!

  11. Another Amy says:

    My kids may be too old for it but this fan of Brenda looks forward to buying it! I have a niece that may want to read it. After me of course ;)

  12. Hahahahahahahaha. This cracked me up. :-)

  13. Really funny review you made there and especially the pictures make it hilarious – Great blog Jules

  14. Jessica says:

    I love your boys. I can’t wait to meet them in real life.

  15. Naomi says:

    Too funny! That progression of photos is just priceless.

  16. Brandi Wynne says:

    Oh my gosh…tooo funny. They have such great personalities! And, they are quite the cuties, I should add.. :)

  17. Lan says:

    Priceless! : )

  18. HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!! Love. Adore.

Leave A Comment

Hi! I’m Jules.

I used to be an attorney, but it made me grumpy. Now I write about life, sweet and savory, as a wife and mother to two small boys. My knowledge of dinosaurs knows no bounds.

You can read more, including the meaning behind the name Pancakes and French Fries here. And, yes, I really am phenomenally indecisive.