Stuffed Animals for Hire: The Christmas Operation and all characters, stories, and artwork copyright Mark Bousquet 2012.

Stuffed Animals for Hire: The Christmas Operation and all characters, stories, and artwork copyright Mark Bousquet 2012.

My latest book, STUFFED ANIMALS FOR HIRE: THE CHRISTMAS OPERATION is now available for purchase in PAPERBACK and KINDLE formats.

I’m really happy with how this novella turned out. I had as much fun writing it as anything else and the idea is to pepper 2013 with several of these novellas (CHRISTMAS OPERATION is roughly 35,000 words).

SAFH is a kid’s book, but it’s also a tribute to the television shows I watched as a kid: The A-Team, Magnum PI, Knight Rider, Hardcastle and McCormack, Riptide, Dukes of Hazzard and generally any show where Post and Carpenter did the music. Recommended age? If you let your kid watch superhero cartoons or Knight Rider reruns, SAFH should be age appropriate.

Here’s the back cover description:

Jurgen the Gorilla. Throne the Lion. Bronze the Golden Eagle. Ray the Brown Bear. Bottle the Dolphin. Dev the Lynxwoman. 3 the Triceratops. Ptera the Pterodactyl.

These eight stuffed animals make up the Return Squadron. For seven months they have worked together to return disconnected stuffed animals home. But now … on their final mission, the Return Squadron seek to steal the legendary Map of Everything.

Before Christmas morning arrives, three of the Squadron will turn traitor, four will be stranded, and one will never see another Christmas.

And here’s a taste of the first chapter:

Chapter 1
Joy to the World

Ray pressed the binoculars to his pure black, marble-sized eyes. The brown teddy bear wanted this operation over, and not just because it was two days until Christmas. He wanted to collect the map they were here to steal and head back to Boston, where Mister Squid was perfecting a teleport unit that would send them all where they wanted to go. Half the members of the Return Squadron were people he’d miss, but the other half …

“Daydream later,” Ptera scolded from above. “We’ve got an operation to complete.” Her gentle, German voice came to him in his earpiece, and Ray looked up to see the purple-furred pterodactyl flapping her cloth wings near the domed, glass ceiling. Ptera was all business and Ray scolded himself for being distracted. They had spent the last seven months together and, if everything went right, this would be their last mission together.

Ray looked out from his perch on the second floor of the luxurious California mansion, a bow by his side and a quiver of arrows on his back. His brown, furry body easily fit between the white, marble columns that held up the railing for the humans who lived here. The mansion was dressed up for Christmas, and the Caddingtons were at a Christmas party. The time was 9:22 and the family would likely be home by 11. There was a father, mother, and young son, and from what Ptera and Bronze had told them, it was a miracle any of them had acquired the Map of Everything since it was pretty clear none of them knew what it was or what it was rumored to be able to do. Wreaths and boughs of holly were hung all over the mansion, and there was a large Christmas tree in the center of the circular room below him.

It would have felt very much like Christmas, Ray thought, if they were home in Massachusetts with all the snow. Here, out in Los Angeles, it was 68 degrees at almost 9:30 at night and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Ray felt it was kinda hard to get in the Christmas mood without any snow. Heck, when he looked out the back window, he could still see that the pool was operational. What was Christmassy about that?

Of course, it wasn’t just that they were here but why they were here that had him lacking the Christmas spirit.

Ray the Brown Bear did not enjoy being a thief.


— Thanks for reading, everyone. For more on THE CHRISTMAS OPERATION, check out my Next Big Thing Blog Hop write-up.

Merry Christmas!

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