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Literature / The Mouse Watch

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"It's basically like the MI-6 of mice!"

"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!"
The heroes' Badass Creed
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The Mouse Watch is the first in a series of young adult novels written and illustrated by J.J. Gilbert (the Pen Name of children's author and storyboard artist Jason Lethcoe) and published by Disney Hyperion Books. The concept is a Spin-Off of Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, with Breakout Character Gadget Hackwrench as part of the supporting cast.

The premise: Bernadette "Bernie" Skampersky is a daring 12-year-old rodent with a dream. Ever since she witnessed the murder of her beloved big brother Brody, she's been trying to join the Mouse Watch, an elite group of high-tech international crimefighters/do-gooders organized by Gadget. When the Watch finally recruits Bernie, she's paired up with another rookie, a nerdy teenage rat named Jarvis Slinktail — which she has a hard time accepting because a rat killed Brody, which has made her prejudiced against the entire species. However, Bernie and Jarvis are forced to work together when their training is interrupted by an emergency which leaves the fate of the world in their paws.

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At least two more books chronicling the adventures of Bernie, Jarvis and their teammates are on the way, with the second novel, Underwater, scheduled for release in May 2021.


"For the Tropes!":

  • Action Girl: Bernie, to be sure. The first time we see her, she's using an improvised zip line while having a neighborhood kid film it because she thinks it'll be a way to get Mouse Watch to finally notice her. Other example include Alph and Major Flatpaw.
  • An Aesop:
    • "Life is about relationships with others."
    • Also, don't judge someone just because they're different from you.
  • Animal Testing: According to Dr. Thornpaw, the scientists who experimented on him wanted to learn what effects acid-based cleaning products, chemically bonding lipstick and electric shocks would have on his body. The results turned him into a literal and figurative monster.
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  • Bad Boss: Dr. Thornpaw uses a Trap Door to dispose of henchmen who question him.
  • Bamboo Technology: Played with. Ordinary mice use castoff items from the human world, but Mouse Watch has its own tech, which is usually more advanced than the equivalent human devices.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: The default for the mouse and rat characters, whose outfits don't include shoes.
  • Battle Cry: "For the Watch!"
  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Dr. Thornpaw was "shaped by pain" due to the horrific experiments he endured, and now he wants Revenge on all humanity.
  • Big Applesauce: Dr. Thornpaw is based in New York City; his headquarters are in the crown of the Statue of Liberty. The climax has the Mouse Watch trying to stop him from taking over NYC.
  • Big Eater: Jarvis might not look like one, but he talks about food and being hungry a lot.
  • Big Good: Gadget, who created the Mouse Watch and invented most of its tech.
  • Big "YES!": Bernie does this when Mouse Watch saves the zombified humans from the subway train.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Tabasco sauce, Jarvis' Trademark Favorite Food. He eventually uses it to subdue Digit by stuffing it into his mouth.
  • Child Soldiers: It's never brought up, but the Mouse Watch has no problem accepting 12-year-olds like Bernie and teenagers like Jarvis into its ranks.
  • Cool Bike: The Pop! Cycle, a Mouse Watch vehicle that is stored in a small tube, then instantly assembled by Nanomachines when the user presses a button.
  • Cool Old Lady: Gadget has evolved into the Steve Jobs or Elon Musk of mice. And while it's uncertain how old she's supposed to be here, when we finally see her she's wearing bifocals.
  • Cool Train: The S.W.I.S.S., the Mouse Watch's high-speed maglev transport. It's part of an underground subway system that covers the whole world, and it takes Bernie and Jarvis from Los Angeles to New York City in ten minutes.
  • Cyborg: Dr. Thornpaw lost one eye, one arm and both legs to horrific "research" by human scientists. He replaced them with mechanical parts that he crafted himself.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: As seen elsewhere on this page, Bernie, Jarvis and Dr. Thornpaw all have one of these.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to both the Rescue Rangers cartoon and competing children's book series such as Geronimo Stilton. Some scenes are surprisingly intense, and the R.A.T.S. villains are scarier and more threatening than the likes of Fat Cat or Norton Nimnul.
  • Death Course: Thornpaw traps the captured Watchers in a deadlier version of the mazes he was subjected to as a test animal.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Parents: Bernie's parents, Clarence and Beatrice, are mild-mannered mice who refuse to let her join the Mouse Watch at first, but finally realize how important it is to her and change their minds. Their initial reluctance is understandable, since they've already lost one child and Bernie is pretty reckless.
  • Foreshadowing: When several text messages from Mouse Watch members are shown during a training video that Bernie watches, one of them reads "Need more intel on something called KRYPTOS. Please advise." Guess what the name of R.A.T.S.' leader turns out to be?
  • Fun with Acronyms: R.A.T.S. (Rogue Animal Thieves Society) and S.W.I.S.S. (Secret Watcher International Sewer System). EEK (Emergency Equipment Krate) combines this trope with Xtreme Kool Letterz.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Gadget, even more so than in Rescue Rangers now that she's no longer restricted to Bamboo Technology. The things she comes up with for the Mouse Watch are pure sci-fi.
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: The Watchers' smart goggles are wondrous devices that act as Everything Sensors, create holographic disguises, summon the S.W.I.S.S. train, and do pretty much anything else the story needs them to do.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Kryptos, the mysterious mastermind in charge of R.A.T.S., who makes a Cameo at the very end of the book.
  • Heroes "R" Us: The Mouse Watch, whose agents go wherever they are needed to make the world a better place.
  • Hypno Fool: Humans infected by Thornpaw's mind control gas will do anything they're told, including sticking their hand in a fire and standing in the path of an oncoming subway train.
  • I Have Your Wife: Jarvis says that he and his siblings only worked for R.A.T.S. because the organization was holding their parents hostage. At least, that's what R.A.T.S. told them. In reality, Jarvis' parents had already been killed for refusing to join.
  • In-Series Nickname: Mouse Watch agents are sometimes called "Watchers".
  • Jerkass Realization: Bernie has one when she realizes she was wrong about Jarvis.
  • Labcoat of Science and Medicine: Dr. Thornpaw and his acolytes wear them.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Whenever Mouse Watch operatives are seen by humans, the Watch maintains The Masquerade with drones that emit "Sleep Spray", which somehow also erases the relevant memories.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Bernie has a nasty habit of rushing into danger without any plans or preparation. Fortunately, she's resourceful enough to think her way out of trouble, and when that doesn't work her fellow Watchers come to her rescue.
  • Los Angeles: Where the book's action starts. The Skamperskys live in the area, and the first Bernie sees of the Mouse Watch is the L.A. office.
  • Ludicrous Precision: One of Candroid's specialties.
    Bernie: How many R.A.T.S. operatives are there in the world?
    Candroid: One million three hundred thousand four hundred and six. Not including the one currently on the premises.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Thornpaw, a Cyborg Evil Genius who has a score to settle with the human race.
  • Mind-Control Device: Dr. Thornpaw's Evil Plan is to subdue and eliminate the human population of New York City, allowing rats to take over. To accomplish this, he uses R.A.T.S. agents, plus a drone stolen from Mouse Watch, to infect people with his mind control formula, a modification of Gadget's sleep spray that smells like warm melted cheese.
  • Mind-Control Eyes: Dr. Thornpaw captures Ernie Mortenson, an elderly human security guard at the Statue of Liberty, and uses him as a test subject for the mind control formula. Ernie's eyes change hue several times before finally turning "an unearthly, sickly yellow color", indicating that the formula works.
  • The Mole: When Candroid reveals that a R.A.T.S. agent has infiltrated the Mouse Watch, Bernie immediately suspects Jarvis and is not shy about repeatedly accusing him. She's wrong — Digit is the traitor.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Dr. Thornpaw, though it's unclear who gave him his title.
  • Mouse World: A central trope. Mice have their own society and avoid interaction with humans, but the Mouse Watch is always looking out for us.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Bernie and Jarvis are new to Mouse Watch, and we're introduced to the organization through their eyes.
  • Nebulous Evil Organization: R.A.T.S. All we know about them so far is that they want to Take Over the World, and their leader thinks that rats (the species) "deserve more" than just ordinary lives.
  • Never Say "Die": Averted Trope. Words like "die" and "kill" are used in the book.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: In Grand Central Terminal, Bernie gets chased by a mean dog and spotted by humans, causing Mouse Watch to summon a Sleep Spray drone to cover her retrieval. However, the drone crashes, and Dr. Thornpaw grabs it and uses it to help distribute his mind control formula.
  • Nice Mice: The Mouse Watch are a group of brave, heroic mice who dedicate their lives to protecting the world. Bernie, the flawed but sympathetic protagonist, is an example of this trope more often than not. However, Digit the turncoat is an aversion.
  • Non-Action Guy: Not only is Jarvis a timid Nerd who doesn't enjoy the risks of field work, he's always warning the impulsive Bernie to follow orders, think before acting, and not take unnecessary chances. However...
    • Cowardly Lion: When Bernie or the other heroes need him, he's always there, and he'll do whatever it takes to save his friends.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: One of the Watch's strictest rules. Lampshaded when Bernie volunteers to be left behind because I Will Only Slow You Down, only for one of her teammates sets her straight.
    Alph: We never, ever leave an agent behind, Skampersky. Don't you forget it.
  • Occam's Razor: Jarvis explains the concept to Bernie, who eventually uses it to solve the puzzle that allows the captured Watchers to escape from Thornpaw's clutches.
  • Pintsized Powerhouse: Due to being sickly as a child, Bernie is small for her age, and she's pretty sensitive about it. Still, she doesn't let her size get in the way of joining Mouse Watch or taking on the bad guys.
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: Jarvis finally gets fed up with Bernie's persistent anti-rat bigotry and takes off just as they're about to confront Thornpaw. True to the trope, Bernie gets captured almost immediately, and Jarvis eventually comes back for her.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: As noted, Bernie starts with a negative attitude toward rats, although she gets over it when she learns that Jarvis has been a good guy all along and Digit, a mouse, is the real double agent.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Rambunctious Bernie is the red, cautious Jarvis is the blue.
  • Robot Buddy: The Candroid, a mouse-shaped android that helps the Mouse Watch. Gadget gave it that name because "it 'can' answer almost anything you ask it."
  • Sequel Hook: The book's epilogue. We're introduced to Kryptos, who says that he anticipated Thornpaw's failure and is ready to launch another scheme.
  • Sequel Series: As noted, this is one to Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers. Gadget is the Big Good, while Chip and Dale make a Cameo. (invokedWord of God is that Monterey Jack and Zipper aren't in the first three books, but will probably appear if the series continues.)
  • The Social Darwinist: The reason for one character's Face–Heel Turn.
    Digit: The fact is, there's nobody more important than yourself. Nature demands the survival of the fittest. You have to take care of number one. Everything about the Watch being as good as all of its parts is sentimental nonsense. In the end, it's every mouse for itself.
  • Songs in the Key of Lock: Dr. Thornpaw uses a musical lock to imprison the LA Watchers. The solution? "Three Blind Mice".
  • Tears of Joy: How Bernie reacts when Gadget inducts her into the Watch.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Bernie's attitude toward Jarvis until they finally become friends.
  • Through a Face Full of Fur: Jarvis blushes "bright pink" at one point.
  • Tracking Device: Mouse Watch give Bernie a hair clip that contains one of these. She eventually tricks Dr. Thornpaw into putting it in his pocket.
  • Tragic Bigot: If Brody hadn't been killed by a rat, Bernie's attitude toward Jarvis would have been very different.
  • Troubled Sympathetic Bigot: Bernie struggles with her Fantastic Racism towards rats, alternating between being suspicious of Jarvis and starting to like him in spite of herself.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Bernie becomes "far more animal than intelligent mouse" during the climactic fight, savagely attacking the Big Bad. It doesn't do any good, because said villain is bigger and stronger than she is.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: When he and Bernie finish their ludicrously fast cross-country ride on the S.W.I.S.S. train, the first thing Jarvis does when he gets off is throw up in the station.
  • We Can Rule Together: Dr. Thornpaw invites Bernie to become one of his minions, noting that their resentments and mistrust of others make them Not So Different. Although she refuses the offer, Bernie is ashamed when she admits to herself that he has a point.
  • We Help the Helpless: The "Watchers" do more than fight R.A.T.S. and solve crimes. They save animals (and humans) who are in any kind of danger, and the training video says their duties can include "helping an elderly person cross the street" and "helping build a well for a thirsty village".
  • Would Hurt a Child: Dr. Thornpaw doesn't hesitate to attack Bernie and Jarvis. Or make a human little girl one of the potential victims of a rampaging subway train.
  • You Dirty Rat!: Played Straight, Averted and Played for Drama. While most R.A.T.S. agents are indeed rats, the organization has members from other species. Also, there are many rats who have either resisted joining the group or done so involuntarily, including Jarvis and his family.
  • "You!" Exclamation: Bernie does this when she realizes that Dr. Thornpaw is the rat who killed Brody.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Bernie dyes her hair electric blue. See it in this color pic.
  • You Killed My Father: What do Bernie and Jarvis have in common besides joining the Watch at the same time? It turns out It's Personal for both of them, because they both lost family members to R.A.T.S.

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