JAY COOPER has worked as a creative director and designer of magazines, books, apparel, and advertising for two decades. He’s had the good luck to design covers for New York Times best-sellers as well as literary classics, and the even better luck to work on art and advertising campaigns for over one hundred Broadway musicals and plays. However, nothing makes him happier than returning to his literature-loving roots and creating and illustrating stories for kids. He lives with his wife and children in Maplewood, New Jersey. (Photo credit: Guzman)
For more information, please contact Teresa Kietlinski at teresa(a)bookmarkliterary.com.
The Pepper Party Picks the Perfect Pet
by Jay Cooper (Scholastic, 2019)
The Bots: The Most Annoying Robots in the Universe
by Rusty Bolts, illustrated by Jay Cooper (Little Simon, 2018)
The Spy Next Door Book #2: The Curse of the Mummy’s Tummy
by Jay Cooper (Scholastic, 2018)
Delivery Trucks! A Special Delivery on Wheels
by Jeffrey Burton (Little Simon, 2017)
The Spy Next Door Book #1: The Mutant Rat Attack
by Jay Cooper (Scholastic, 2017)
Food Trucks! Meals on Wheels
by Jeffrey Burton (Little Simon, 2016)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books — February 2017
The Spy Next Door: MUTANT RAT ATTACK!
written and illus. by Jay Cooper.
Dexter wants to be a spy, and he gets his chance when his science teacher goes from amateur rat-fart researcher to full-on mad scientist. A mishap (or was it?) with a skateboard lands Dexter in a secret spy agency, run by Big K, a tough kid who wears an eye patch and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. Off Dexter goes with his new high-tech skateboard to stop the giant rampaging (gassy) rat and save the principal kidnapped by the villainous rodent. It’s a nice point here that Dexter is an unassuming, background sort of kid and therefore actually perfect for spy work; Big K reinforces the notion that flashy heroics might work for superheroes, but they are terrible for blending in (while cool tech gadgets bring a touch of supercharged action). It’s not quite clear if this wants to be a book about farting (a key feature in both the text and the zany illustrations), spies, wacky schools, or a mashup, but the end result is kinetic and frenetic, if slightly muddled, fun. Dav Pilkey fans, of course, will find many things to appreciate here, and budding spies will find enough detective work to keep them interested. AS
Scholastic, 2017 [144p] (Spy Next Door)
ISBN 978-0-545-93297-4 $9.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 2-4
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY — January 9, 2017
MUTANT RAT ATTACK!
Jay Cooper. Scholastic Press, $9.99 (144p) ISBN 978-0-545-93297-4
Cooper, illustrator of the Food Trucks! board book, makes his debut as author with a whirlwind, Spy Kids–esque adventure, first in the Spy Next Door series. Dex Drabner’s dull life in Girder City gets substantially more exciting after the third grader stumbles into a plot involving flatulent rats and radioactive broccoli, then joins an underground organization of young secret agents, the Super-Secret Spy Kids. Cooper’s b&w cartoons fill the pages, crammed with puns and jokey asides (“Chard!” shouts Dex as he attempts to take down a giant mutant rat with a Gas-B-Gone pill). Much like Dex aboard his flying skateboard, the jokes don’t always stick their landings, but fans of over-the-top slapstick silliness will find plenty to laugh over. Ages 7–10. Agent: Teresa Kietlinski, Bookmark Literary. (Feb.)
BOOKLIST — Issue: December 15, 2016
MUTANT RAT ATTACK!
Cooper, Jay (Author) , Cooper, Jay (Illustrator)
Feb 2017. 144 p. Scholastic, hardcover, $9.99. (9780545932974). Scholastic, e-book, $9.99.(9780545933391).
Third-grader Dexter is “impossibly boring.” There’s nothing special about him, unlike Dexter’s idol, Toby Falcon, a world-famous professional skateboarder and star of the Skate Spy movies. Things change when science teacher Mr. McFur makes the incredible discovery that rat farts can produce energy. With the help of an intelligent skateboard, Dexter is recruited by the “Super-Secret Spy Kids Local Girder City Chapter” to be a spy in disguise, just like Toby Falcon. His first mission is to stop a rampaging giant mutant rat and recover a cluster of illegal radioactive gamma broccoli. Cartoonish grayscale illustrations dominate the pages, making this series starter a quick read. The irreverent humor in the text is mirrored in the exaggerated characters and their over-the-top facial expressions. The narrative loses its continuity at times, but there’s plenty of high-tech gadgets and fast-paced chases to keep readers engaged. Chock-full of lowbrow potty humor, this giggle-inducing, skateboarding adventure will have great appeal for fans of Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series.— Amy Seto Forrester
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL – November 2016
MUTANT RAT ATTACK!
illus. by Jay Cooper.
144p. (The Spy Next Door: Bk. 1).
Scholastic. Mar. 2017. Tr $9.99. ISBN 9780545932974.
Gr 3-5–Unlike the plethora of books featuring secret agents and dangerous missions, this one centers on an artificial intelligence skateboard and a spy leader with an eye patch. Dexter, a very boring student with very boring parents, wishes for a life of adventure and accidentally finds it. Dexter stumbles upon a secret meeting between his eccentric science teacher, who is trying to harness the electrical power of rat farts, and an unidentified mustachioed man with gamma broccoli and a probably nefarious plan. It is up to Dexter to become the next kid agent, along with a skateboard sidekick, to keep his school safe after the rats become mutated and wreak havoc. With illustrations littered throughout, this will appeal to reluctant readers, with irreverent humor and action that will keep kids turning the pages and waiting anxiously for Agent SK8’s next outing. VERDICT Good for general purchase or for collections lacking in “Captain Underpants” read-alikes.–Ashley Prior, Lincoln Public Library, RI
KIRKUS — November 2016
MUTANT RAT ATTACK!
Spy Next Door, Volume: 1
Author: Jay Cooper
Until recently, Dexter Drabner only dreamed of being a world-famous secret spy. But when a mysterious, mustachioed man gives Dexter’s science teacher radioactive broccoli to feed his pet rat for an experiment on harnessing rat gas as a natural energy resource, the white third-grader must find his inner hero to save his school from destruction. While the hyperenergetic illustrations and running fart joke will likely appeal to some young readers, especially boys who may otherwise be reluctant to pick up a book, the plot feels both rushed and underdeveloped. Far too much time is spent on flatulent rats and far too little time on key topics like Dexter’s spy training. And whatever happened to the mustache man? He is all but forgotten until a mention on the very last page. The story does, however, have some strengths. Though it is not integral to the plot, it is refreshing to see some diversity suggested in illustrations of the classroom. Additionally, girls will appreciate white seventh-grader Big K, Dexter’s handler and a strong, sassy female character. Agent B.O.A.R.D., a souped-up skateboard and Dexter’s crime-fighting partner, is a cool gadget with lots of potential for fun. And then there is Dexter, an unassuming Everykid whose willingness to jump right in and save his school makes him easy to root for. A gassed-up, gaseous spy story without much spying. (Adventure. 7-12)
Price ( Hardcover ): $9.99 Price ( e-book ): $5.99
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
ISBN ( Hardcover ): 978-0-545-93339-1 ISBN ( e-book ): 978-0-545-93339-1