Rockstar Book Tours: Excerpt & Giveaway ~ The Mouse Watch Underwater (J.J. Gilbert) ~ (US Only)
YABC is thrilled to be hosting a spot on the THE MOUSE WATCH UNDERWATER by J. J. Gilbert Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours.
Check out our post and make sure to enter the giveaway!
About the Book:
Title: THE MOUSE WATCH UNDERWATER
Author: J. J. Gilbert
Pub. Date: May 4, 2021
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
In this action-packed sequel to The Mouse Watch, a team of elite crime-fighting mice must go where no mouse has gone before – the depths of the ocean!
For Fans of Chip & Dale Rescue Rangers
Six months into their Mouse Watch training, Bernie and Jarvis are getting along like cheese and crackers! Less exciting: having already completed their first successful mission, it’s now back to basic training.
But more pressing matters are at hand (or rather, at paw). The remains of the S.S. Moon, a long-lost spy vessel, have been found. Onboard the ship is a legendary map, and the transmission says that it leads to an energy source that could save—or destroy— the planet. The Mouse Watch must get to it before it falls into the clutches of their nemesis, R.A.T.S!
Bernie and Jarvis suit up—in scuba suits, this time—for a deep-sea mission on a submarine the size of a shark-snack. Their mission brings them whisker to whisker with a giant robotic kraken, nefarious R.A.T.S. agents, the underwater city of Cat-Lantis, and more underwater perils, all in a fight against time to keep a powerful weapon out of the clutches of evil.
“Mice in Black” meets “Mission Im-paw-sible,” this high-octane follow-up to The Mouse Watch will appeal to fans of the tiny rodent heroes, as well as draw new readers in with adorable antics and high-stakes adventure.
PRAISE FOR THE MOUSE WATCH
“A fun little adventure brimming with Disney intellectual-property synergy “– Kirkus Reviews
“Disney’s The Mouse Watch is the James Bond of Mice” – Your Money Geek
“The Mouse Watch is a fun adventure story about believing in yourself, widening your world view, and good triumphing over evil. Kids will love it for the relatable characters, cool gadgets, and cyborg villain” – Laughing Place
Bernie Skampersky raced down the gleaming white corridor that led to the Secret Watcher International Subway System. She checked her watch. The display showed a cartoon version of herself running next to a countdown clock. The clock was synched with the S.W.I.S.S. station terminal.
Two minutes to the next train! she thought. I’d better hustle!
She doubled her speed, calling back to her fellow agent Jarvis Slinktail to try to keep up. Jarvis, in spite of being much taller than she was, preferred sitting behind a keyboard rather than doing anything physical whatsoever. The lanky rat was her best friend, and she noticed that his shock of blond hair bounced comically in his eyes as he huffed and puffed, trying to keep pace with her.
“Last one there is a R.A.T.S. agent!” Bernie shouted.
“Not . . . (huff) . . . fair!” Jarvis called back. “I had a . . . (puff) . . . huge breakfast! Cheddar-cheese waffles!”
Bernie chuckled. Jarvis’s appetite was becoming legendary at Mouse Watch HQ. It had gotten so bad that the cafeteria mice had been known to panic and lock the cafeteria doors when they saw him coming.
Bernie was a short brown mouse with a haystack of blue hair and long eyelashes. Joining the Mouse Watch had been her dream, one that had actually come true when she’d been accepted to the elite band of agents six months ago.
As she ran, she noticed how much steadier her breathing had become and that her legs were much stronger than when she’d first joined up. With the rigorous training exercises she did every day, she was starting to gain athletic abilities she’d never known, and clad in her official Level One agent uniform, a black jumpsuit with silver trim, she looked every bit a part of the illustrious team.
Bernie ran toward the secret area indicated on the map on her goggles’ screen. The smart goggles were one of the Watchers’ most important instruments, a hi-tech piece of enhanced-reality gear that allowed an agent to do countless useful things, including, as Bernie was using it for right then, consulting a highly accurate mapping system. She’d only used the S.W.I.S.S. station once before, and because Mouse Watch HQ was such a vast, sprawling warren of glass windows and mazelike corridors, the map was quite helpful.
She scurried past the locker room that led to the gym and reached the drinking fountains well before Jarvis did. By the time he caught up, she remembered to use the switch behind the fountains to open the secret door.
“What took you so long?” asked Bernie.
Jarvis was huffing and puffing so hard that he couldn’t answer for a full thirty seconds. “T- . . . too . . .”
“Too? Too what?” asked Bernie. “Too far to run?”
“Too . . . basco sauce,” wheezed Jarvis. “I forgot to grab some on the way out. Just give me a second to run back. . . .”
“No time!” Bernie cried. “We’re on a schedule! Somebody needs rescuing and we have to go!”
Jarvis shrugged and held out his paws in a helpless gesture. “What if I need a snack? Nothing tastes good without Tabasco anymore!” he exclaimed. “I even put it on my cereal this morning!”
“You have a problem,” said Bernie. “Come on, someone’s in serious danger!”
The secret door behind the drinking fountains led to a very old stairway in a crumbling, brick-lined tunnel. Bernie found it interesting because it was very unlike the rest of the conspicuously clean, futuristic Mouse Watch headquarters. She had no idea what the old tunnel had been used for originally. But, seeing how ancient and crumbly the bricks were, Bernie wondered if it was part of a much older building that had once stood where HQ now was. Apparently, sometime in the distant past of Los Angeles, someone had needed a stairway to access the old tunnels beneath the city.
It was very mysterious.
But Bernie liked to imagine that a secret society used to meet there, making plans to take over the world, or that it was possibly a hideout for robbers while they plotted some kind of bank heist.
It was impossible for her not to feel daring and adventurous when descending the rickety stairs.
When she reached the bottom, Bernie checked her watch and was happy to see that they’d actually arrived with two seconds to spare. Despite the Tabasco-related slowdown, their training was paying off.
Grinning, she showed Jarvis her record time. The lanky rat nodded but looked wholly unimpressed. “Good for you,” he said, sounding tired.
“If you put as much effort into physical training as you do into eating, next time we can make even better time,” said Bernie.
“No thank you,” said Jarvis. “Running through obstacle courses—”
“Is a fun challenge?” finished Bernie, grinning.
“No,” said Jarvis. “I was gonna say, ‘is my least favorite thing in the world to do.’ Besides,” he added, glancing at her through his blond mop of hair, “I say anybody who wastes their time running around when they could be thinking or playing video games has a misplaced set of priorities.”
Jarvis was brilliant with computers. Bernie was good at solving puzzles, but there had never been, in Mouse Watch history, anybody better at it than Jarvis. He was the most natural code breaker the Watch had ever seen. They’d made an exception for him to join up with them, in spite of the fact that he was a rat and had once (even though he hadn’t wanted to) worked for R.A.T.S.—the Rogue Animal Thieves Society.
The group had a dark reputation. They knew how to take advantage of every angle, how to manipulate and exploit anybody who was weak and vulnerable. Jarvis had needed help and they’d offered to take care of him . . . for a price. R.A.T.S. was the most corrupt gang of evildoers ever assembled, and they worked tirelessly for their own selfish purposes.
That included destroying anybody who stood in their way.
R.A.T.S.—which was made up of more than just rats, including assorted other villainous vermin and sneaky reptiles—was the archnemesis of the Mouse Watch. The evil, covert group sought to destroy the Mouse Watch and take the world back from humans. Bernie shuddered, thinking of the last time she’d gone up against R.A.T.S., when they had taken over New York City and tried to drive all humans underground. If not for the intrepid Mouse Watch, Bernie felt sure that there wouldn’t have been anyone left to stop their diabolical deeds.
Bernie’s goggles lit up with a blue glow that cast an eerie light in the dim shadows. A series of pop-up balloons appeared in the corner of the screen with instructions for how to use the transport system.
Step one: summon train using voice command “hey, s.w.i.s.s.”
Step two: state destination.
Step three: after boarding the train, select specific destination from the menu.
Step four: buckle up!
Loudly and clearly, Bernie said, “Hey, S.W.I.S.S.!”
An electronic female voice with a light British accent replied, “Coming!”
A few seconds later, the shiny white Maglev train slid soundlessly up to the station platform. As she watched it approach, Bernie thought about her last adventure. At that time, she’d had a strong prejudice against rats. When she was just a mouseling, she’d had a run-in with one named Dr. Thornpaw, a horrible villain who had outfitted himself with powerful robotic limbs to replace the ones human scientists had ruined through tests and experiments. The soulless Dr. Thornpaw had taken her brother Brody’s life, and it had haunted Bernie ever since. But that wasn’t the last time she saw Dr. Thornpaw—she encountered him again on her first day as a Mouse Watch agent. The evil doctor had vowed revenge on all of humanity, and he also turned out to be one of the most formidable opponents the Mouse Watch had ever faced. The mind-controlling cheese spray he’d developed had nearly taken down New York City, turning all the citizens into zombies. Thanks to Bernie and Jarvis, he’d been stopped in his tracks and was now safely behind bars.
Not bad for a couple of rookies! thought Bernie, smiling.
It really was an understatement. She hadn’t trusted Jarvis at first, but all of Bernie’s preconceived notions about rats had disappeared when he saved her and a team of Mouse Watch agents from a deadly maze in Dr. Thornpaw’s lab. Ever since, they’d been best friends.
The doors whooshed open, and Bernie and Jarvis boarded the S.W.I.S.S. She couldn’t help but notice that Jarvis looked particularly uneasy. His whiskers drooped and his furry complexion was pale. The first time he’d ridden the supersonic train he’d gotten violently sick. She felt a wave of concern.
“Hey, did you bring some of those . . .” Bernie began.
“Motion-sickness tablets that Gadget designed?” finished Jarvis. “Yeah. Right here.”
Jarvis pulled one of the tablets out of his pocket and popped it in his mouth. “At least it tastes like Tabasco-covered cheese,” he said, chewing. “That’s about the only good thing I can think of when riding this stupid train.”
He raised the hood on his uniform and retreated within it like a turtle going into its shell. Jarvis’s uniform matched Bernie’s except for that necessary addition. Jarvis loved hoods, and the Watch had kindly customized his jumpsuit to accommodate his favorite accessory.
The two Watchers found their seats, stowed their backpacks beneath them, and secured their safety harnesses. The electronic female voice said, “Please state your destination.”
“Portland, Oregon,” said Bernie.
“Portland station,” replied the S.W.I.S.S. “Please be sure your restraints are properly fastened. Arrival time, T minus three minutes, twenty-six seconds.”
Bernie and Jarvis had barely fastened the buckles on their harnesses when, with a sonic BOOM! the train shot down the tracks like a bullet from a gun.
As the mouse-size train flew down the rails, navigating old sewer tunnels that intersected with the Watch’s specially constructed new ones, Bernie thought of how different her current reality was compared to her old one.
Back in Thousand Acorns, her hometown, mice had to make the most out of everyday objects. For example, a thimble might make a good bowl for soup. A bottle cap could be an end table. And just about anything that could be salvaged from a toy store or a fashion doll’s wardrobe could be reimagined or altered to fit a mouse. It was creative but always just a little bit uncomfortable.
Now that she was an agent at the Mouse Watch, she enjoyed all kinds of new, mouse-size comforts and devices. This was definitely thanks to Gadget Hackwrench, the head inventor and leader of the organization. Gadget was a legend from her days working with Chip and Dale’s Rescue Rangers, and Bernie had studied everything there was to know about her hero, including her early inventions, like the Ranger Plane.
Since breaking off from the Rescue Rangers and starting her own organization, Gadget had progressed with the times and had turned her genius brain to developing the amazing tiny tech and miniature comforts that the Mouse Watch now relied upon. Bernie never knew how great life could be until she’d become a Watcher. She was living the dream, even though her new life was also filled with danger.
But for her, danger added a little spice.
Not so much for Jarvis. The only spice he craved could be found in a small bottle of hot sauce.
That, and solving a good puzzle.
As if on cue, Bernie’s watch pinged, alerting her that the timetable for her rescue operation was ticking away. When on a mission, the smart watch counted down rather than up, and she noticed that she only had thirty minutes to complete the task.
She felt nervous. Bernie had no idea who they were going to rescue, but she knew that it must have been a really important mission to have such a short and urgent countdown to get there. A thirty-minute rescue meant that it was a top priority. Someone was most certainly in immediate danger.
Well, they assigned the right rodents to the job, Bernie thought. She and Jarvis were both eager to prove themselves.
Even though the S.W.I.S.S. was incredibly fast, Bernie couldn’t help but wish it could go even faster. Every agent would be evaluated on their mission performance and, although she’d never been a stellar student in school back home, here at the Mouse Watch she was determined to get top marks as a Level One recruit.
Almost as quickly as it had begun, the train ride was ending. Bernie reached for the straps of her backpack as the train slowed, anxious to bolt out of the doors and get to the address on her smart watch display.
“Mount Tabor Park,” she murmured. The watch showed that the Portland neighborhood was about twenty minutes from the Portland Mouse Watch terminal. In order to get there on time they were going to have to really move.
“Better get your Pop! Cycle ready, Jarvie,” said Bernie. “We’ve got a race ahead of us. . . .”
“Do you really have to call me that?” mumbled Jarvis. “It sounds so babyish.”
Bernie glanced over to Jarvis, who was slouching in his seat, arms folded across his chest and his hoodie pulled low over his eyes.
“Mmmgh,” said Jarvis.
Bernie pulled back his hood so she could see his face. The skinny rat stared at her with his big brown eyes. Bernie could tell that, in spite of the motion sickness pills, he looked a little queasy.
“You okay?” asked Bernie.
“Ugh,” said Jarvis, sitting up. “I hate these stupid trains. Why couldn’t Gadget invent some kind of dematerializing transport device, one that would go BRZZZT! and your atomic particles would be immediately reassembled wherever you wanted to go?”
“I’m no scientist, but turning yourself into a bunch of random particles sounds like a bad idea,” said Bernie. “Although, if anybody could figure out how to do it, Gadget could. Hey, I’ve got some water in my backpack. You can drink it if you think it will help settle your stomach.”
Jarvis shook his head and motioned her away. “Thanks, but I’ll be okay. Just get me back on solid ground.”
Bernie felt the train glide to a stop as it approached the Portland terminal, and a few seconds later the door slid open and the voice said, “Arrived. Please disembark.”
Without hesitation, Jarvis grabbed his backpack and they both rushed out the door. Unlike New York’s Grand Central Terminal platform, the Portland stop was a very simple affair, just a brick platform beneath a manhole cover. Bernie spotted a mouse-size iron ladder that had been installed next to a small doorway.
She checked her watch. “We’ve only got eighteen minutes! Hurry!”
“Seriously, Bern,” groused Jarvis. “How does the S.W.I.S.S. not affect you at ALL?”
“I have a very sturdy constitution. I think it may be part of why I got recruited.”
It was true. Bernie was small, but she was mighty. Nothing kept her down for long. Even a broken leg hadn’t stopped her from traveling all the way to the Mouse Watch headquarters for her first day on the job.
Bernie led the way, scrambling up the tiny ladder and emerging through the door into an old back alley. Outside, the fall weather felt cool and crisp. The sky was dotted with a few dark clouds, but between them, the late-afternoon sun shone through. According to the map in her goggles’ display, they’d emerged at a spot near the Hawthorne Bridge, a spectacular truss bridge that spanned the massive Willamette River.
The sun’s fading rays sparkled on the water, dazzling their eyes. If they’d had the time, Bernie would have loved to scamper along the banks of the river with Jarvis and maybe find a spot for a picnic—hidden away from human eyes, of course. In that brief daydream, Bernie would have brought plenty of Tabasco sauce, and she and Jarvis would have spent a lovely afternoon joking and laughing as the sun went down.
It was a beautiful thought. But there was no time for goofing around. Someone important was in serious danger.
“Let’s ride,” said Bernie, lowering her goggles. “We’re—”
“Burning daylight. I know,” finished Jarvis.
With a practiced motion, they reached into their nylon backpacks and retrieved aluminum cylinders, which snapped apart with a POP! A gleaming, futuristic-looking pod shot out from each tube, unfolding automatically into a mouse-size motorcycle.
Bernie never got tired of Gadget’s tech. It was like magic. Her boss really was amazing.
VROOOAOOWWW! Bernie hit the gas hard with her hind paw, and the engine revved into gear. The map to Mount Tabor appeared on her goggles as she rocketed down the scenic Portland city streets, sticking to shadows cast by the curbs. Jarvis followed close behind.
Bernie watched the countdown clock in the corner of her screen and winced. This one was gonna be close!
She increased her speed. Bernie knew that anyone who might have been looking in their direction would have seen two very tiny figures weaving in and out of gutters and next to sidewalk curbs, avoiding random pieces of litter and the occasional pothole or crack. They would have perhaps mistaken the two small riders for a couple of normal, if fast-moving, rodents, or exceptionally large low-flying insects. Bernie knew that only the most observant among the humans would have been amazed to see that they were really a mouse and a rat, each clothed in tiny jumpsuits, rocketing down the street on custom high-tech motorcycles.
Gadget had taught them that, as a rule, humans tended to ignore the unusual because it was easier to believe what fit neatly into their worldview.
Crime-fighting rodents did not fit into most people’s worldview.
This was an advantage for every Watcher.
The Mouse Watch always tried to hide its activities from human eyes as much as possible, and this human tendency toward denial worked to their benefit. It helped them to get from place to place in public while avoiding detection.
As Bernie and her best friend sped to their target, hoping beyond hope that they wouldn’t be too late, she wondered what the mission would be. They hadn’t been told exactly who they were rescuing or from what, but it had to be important if they’d been directed to drop everything to get there so quickly.
To calm her nerves as she raced along, she recited the Mouse Watch creed to herself:
Every part of a watch is important, from the smallest gear on up. For without each part working together, keeping time is impossible. We never sleep. We never fail. We are there for all who call upon us in their time of need. We are the MOUSE WATCH!
And with the inspirational thought of those very special words, words that meant everything to her, Bernie took courage and raced on into the gathering darkness, anxious to get to their destination before time ran out.
About J. J. Gilbert:
J. J. Gilbert has worked in Hollywood for most of his life as a director, animator, producer, and storyboard artist for companies such as Walt Disney Studios, and has been bringing mice (and other creatures) to life for years. He lives in California with his wife and kids. His favorite kind of cheese is Stilton.
3 winners will win a finished copy of THE MOUSE WATCH UNDERWATER, US Only.