Mo O’Hara, New York Times bestselling author of the My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish series
Life is short. Diamonds are fur-ever.
Internationally famous cat burglar Ophelia von Hairball V adores jewelsthe only thing she loves more is a challenge. She's never met a safe she couldn't crack.
Now the Furry Feline Burglary Institute (FFBI) offers her the ultimate caper: steal the giant Himalayan diamond and win their top award!
There's a catch! The FFBI sends an enthusiastic inventor to help Ophelia...but this cat works alone, and Oscar Fishgerald Gold smells fishy.
Can the smartest, stealthiest, and snazziest of cats learn to work with a fintastic sidekick and prove she's still the world's most purr-fect burglar?
Adventure, heists, and teamwork abound in this fun, witty middle grade series brimming with cat-tastic black-and-white illustrations.
Includes graphic novel-style pages!
This book has Common Core connections.
Check out the whole Snazzy Cat Capers series!
Snazzy Cat Capers
Snazzy Cat Capers: The Fast and the Furriest
An Imprint Book
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
REBEL WITH SOME (LOVELY) CLAWS
The gold-leaf invitations had been delivered by white doves. Crystal chariots drove A-list guests to the front doors. Ball gowns glimmered with gems. It had been a long time since Ophelia von Hairball V attended a masquerade ball at a castle, but in her disguise, she sparkled as brightly as everyone else — probably more.
"Hold on." A security guard stopped her. "Your invitation seems different." He shone his flashlight to take a closer look.
"Different? Really?" she inquired. She quickly shifted her attention to the guard's outfit. "Your uniform is superb." Ophelia loved a good costume as much as a good forgery, and her forged invitation was purr-fectly identical to the real ones — with one important difference: She'd crafted it with a higher-quality gold. "But your wig seems crooked. May I fix it for you?" she asked.
The guard frowned. "Crooked? I don't like crooked."
"Sometimes crooked is okay" — Ophelia grinned — "but never for paintings or hair." He let her straighten his wig.
"Your invitation looks fine. Sorry to keep you waiting. We had an attempted robbery a few days ago and we're on high alert." The guard waved her in.
PURRRR. Inside the doorway, Ophelia's ringtone was drowned out by an orchestra playing "O Fur-tuna" and the complaints of spoiled guests upset that their jewels were too heavy.
Ophelia opened her handbag to sneak a peek at her phone. The Furry Feline Burglary Institute! Normally, Ophelia von Hairball V pounced on a call from the FFBI. But just yesterday, she'd sent her sixteenth inventor packing. Sixteenth! It was a record for the most inventors ever returned to the FFBI, so she was sure the Feline Director (code name: MEW) was calling to scold her.
PURRRR. Not a big fan of scoldings, Ophelia silenced her phone. Maybe she'd call Director MEW back tomorrow to tell her side of the story. She'd sent Norman — the sixteenth inventor — packing for a lot of very good reasons. For example, he was obsessed with knock-knock jokes, his off-key singing tended to attract stray animals, and if he saw a bug, he froze like a statue. But most importantly, Ophelia fired him because she liked to work alone. The FFBI should know by now that she didn't want or need a helper. She was the greatest cat burglar in the world — a solo act.
Ophelia took a deep breath, tightened her mask, and elegantly glided into the crowded room. In no time at all, she was twirling around the dance floor, moving toward the staircase. But she wasn't there to mingle. Instead, her grand plan was to sneak upstairs and liberate a sparkling emerald tiara from its cold, steel safe.
Truth be told, the last thing Ophelia needed was another tiara. Recently, she'd been bored with her tiara pile, so she'd returned (anonymously, of course) several dozen to their former owners.
But this tiara was special. Every month, the FFBI sent out special challenges to the elite cat burglars. Practice makes purr-fect, after all. The cat who checked the most items off the list was the winner. Pierre, her cousin and archrival, had double-dared Ophelia to try to get the emerald tiara because he didn't think she could pull it off with the panache she was infamous for. Ophelia desperately wanted to show him that she could. And once the tiara was in her paws, she planned to flaunt her burglar-tastic superiority during the next FFBI meeting.
A waiter in a black tuxedo and matching gloves stopped to offer Ophelia goodies from a silver tray. "Caviar?"
"Oh." She licked her lips. "You've discovered my weakness." She was tempted to stop and have a little snack. "What I wouldn't give for a taste," she admitted, "but I'm on a rather tight deadline this evening. I have to leave the party early. Alas, no time for treats."
Ophelia noted the waiter's silk gloves and flashed her most charming grin. "Those gloves are so lovely. ... May I?"
"Keep them! They give me the worst rash!" he exclaimed.
Ophelia handed him a generous tip. She put on the gloves, then poked her claws through the tops of the fingers.
"Divine!" she whispered. A purr-fect fit. Plus, she wouldn't leave any paw prints! Ophelia waltzed through the crowd and checked the time. It was eleven thirty. She only had until midnight to get the tiara and exit the castle.
She discreetly checked the castle's blueprint, which she had printed on her fan. Then, with a practiced eye (and the longest eyelashes in the land), Ophelia scoped out the ballroom. She noted the objects that might help or hinder her escape.
Dozens of twinkle-light ropes dangled from the upper-floor railings. On the dance floor, hundreds of guests formed a twirling rainbow of silk and lace. In the corner, a two-story chocolate fountain was a sweet magnet to a crowd of jet-setters. All over, sleepy security guards half-heartedly scanned the room.
Ophelia climbed the stairs to the second floor. Just down the hallway was a tiny room disguised as a closet. Inside was a safe.
It was really no wonder that her cousin Pierre hadn't figured out a way to crack it — the safe was an old-fashioned design. The second best burglar at the FFBI, Pierre turned up his nose at anything classic (or classy, for that matter). Ophelia thought he was a disgrace to the cat burglar profession.
The FFBI had been around for centuries, and their cat burglars (especially the elite) treated each heist as an opportunity to hone their skills. But it wasn't easy; there were rules to follow. A great cat burglar needed to be stealthy and smart, and perform purr-fect crimes! It was also an unwritten rule that the classiest cat burglars didn't keep the priceless objects they pilfered. (Although it sometimes took a little while to return very, very pretty things to their owners.) For a good cat burglar, it was all about the chase.
Even though Pierre was an elite cat burglar, he didn't bother with the honor code among kitty thieves. Pierre had always preferred brute force over brains. He did things the easy way, not the right way. Ophelia thought his careless habits were dangerous for the whole FFBI organization. She never missed a chance to show him that a superior cat burglar could win both small challenges and big competitions with charm.
It took Ophelia only thirty seconds, a doctor's stethoscope, and a gentle paw to crack the safe. When she heard the combination click into place, she ever-so-carefully swung the door open.
"Well, well." She gazed at the tiara. It was beautifully lit by moonbeams. "Aren't you just a glorious trinket?" Plucking the sparkling piece from its pressure-sensitive velvet pad, she placed it atop her head. It was a lovely fit and purr-fectly matched her gown — which, of course, had been her plan.
She did a fast calculation and guessed that it would take the castle's tired security guards at least sixty seconds to respond to the safe's silent alarm. That was plenty of time to make her escape. Using the twinkle-lights as a rope was the best way to gracefully (and quickly) get back down to the main floor.
Ophelia landed on the main level and got just a few feet across the dance floor when a guest in head-to-toe purple sequins blocked her path. "Darling! Where in heavens did you come from? And WHO made your mask? Calvin Claw? Kitty Klum? It's outstanding!"
"Neither. I craft most of my own disguises ... er, outfits. I try very hard not to buy things."
A small army of now-alert security guards came into view. They were standing by the door, looking rather frantic. Ophelia sensed that they were moments away from locking down the castle.
"Please excuse me." Ophelia curtsied. "I need some air." And a distraction.
Twirling back through the dancers, Ophelia made herself invisible among the crowd and headed to the chocolate fountain. There, she set the fountain's speed to high and used her new gloves to lock it in place. A few seconds later, chocolate flowed at an incredible pace ... and then overflowed. Few things were more distracting than waterfalls of liquid chocolate! As guests started slipping on the chocolate-covered floor, rich laughter turned into gooey groans.
The chaos gave Ophelia the few extra seconds she needed to slip unseen out of the castle. As always, she was exactly on time for her preplanned helicopter pickup. Being on time is, after all, a sign of class — and one of her trademark moves.
During the journey home, Ophelia catnapped. She dreamed of a fairy-tale genie in a shiny gold bottle who told her to make a wish. Her dreams usually came true — so she cleverly wished for another wish.
What she got instead was an unexpected surprise.CHAPTER 2
CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FUR
Back at her lair, Ophelia was forced to let Director MEW of the FFBI rant a bit. "Number four was returned for 'not French-braiding the hair that sprouted from his ears.' Number nine was rejected for 'not fully appreciating my genius.' Number twelve was sent back for 'throwing fart-bombs in her sleep.' How does one even 'throw' farts, Ophelia?! And what was wrong with Norman? He had no ear hair! He didn't withhold compliments! And no gas issues. In fact, I handpicked him! He was purrrr-fect for you!"
As MEW ranted, her face pinched and squashed in ways Ophelia had never seen it pinch and squash before. Ophelia knew MEW wasn't finished, and she knew better than to interrupt. "Ophelia — sixteen inventors! In one year! It's disgraceful."
Over the video conference call, Ophelia tried very hard to look very sorry. "I'm sorry, MEW, but I work best alone."
MEW tried to stay calm. "You don't get it, do you? You can't just keep returning purr-fectly brilliant inventors! There was nothing wrong with Norman!"
"I disagree! Besides his bug phobia, I put up with a lot of knock- knock jokes! But the biggest issue here," Ophelia pleaded, "is that we all know I don't need a sidekick inventor and I don't want one."
"Since last year, official FFBI policy mandates that every agent has an inventor. There are no exceptions. What's the FFBI's motto, Ophelia?"
"Precisely! But that's not easy! Our purr-fect crime rate is going down — cats are getting caught. The Central Canine Intelligence Agency is definitely ramping up. As you know, they have a weird habit of marking their territory — they put their CCIA logo on everything, so we've been able to detect their increased presence all over the world! Every cat operative has to be more careful. And that means each of us needs a paw-rtner in crime."
Ophelia knew MEW was right about the increasing threat of the CCIA. Those dogs would stop at nothing to bring down the FFBI. They just didn't understand the genius and skill behind the work of the feline thieves. But even if they were smart, Ophelia had never met any dog who was a match for her brains. She absolutely did not need an inventor to slow her down.
"Can we please talk about this later, Director MEW? I'm exhausted from last night's long journey. Would you like to see the lovely tiara I picked up in the Alps? I won the latest challenge!"
Oddly, MEW didn't look like she cared at all about Ophelia's new tiara. "Lovely or not, I don't know why you're wasting time in the Alps with that small challenge when you should be in Paris. Surely a measly tiara is not worth losing the big competition!"
Ophelia thought she must have misheard. "Uh, pardonnez-moi? Paris?"
"Every other agent — including Pierre — is a whole forty- eight hours ahead of you. Time is running out!"
Ophelia felt the blood rush from the tips of her claws into her gorgeous ears. Pierre? Her archrival was getting ahead? She had no clue what MEW was talking about, but the thought of Pierre beating her at anything made her furious. "Competition?! Director, what do you mean? Why am I supposed to be in Paris?"
"It's the —"
"HISS! I apologize." Ophelia had to cut MEW off. "Please excuse me for one moment. There's a very persistent and pesky stranger at my door."
MEW smiled. "Oh, please answer it. I should go. Call me if you have any questions. And remember, Ophelia — the inventor is mandatory. No refunds! No returns! No exchanges! Au revoir!"CHAPTER 3
P.U.G. & PRICKLES
At the door was a lone goldfish in a tank of water with high-tech gadgets. He seemed to know Ophelia quite well since he didn't even introduce himself. He bowed and declared, "Your wish is granted! I've arrived!"
Suddenly, Ophelia remembered her dream and clutched her head in her paws. She had wished for a wish. ... Instead, here was a fish.
"Did you say, 'you're mine'?"
"Yes. Mine." The fish looked flustered. "Well, I'm yours. And you're mime. Oops, I mean mine. You're not a mime. Are you a mime? Well, anyhow, we belong to each other. Partners!"
"Sorry — I didn't quite catch your name?" Ophelia inquired, hoping he was simply a very enthusiastic salesfish selling door-to-door.
"Oscar Fishgerald Gold of the FFBI. Senior inventor at your service!" He beamed at her. "I've been sent by —"
Too flustered to remember her manners, Ophelia interrupted him. "Oscar, do you sing?"
"Er, badly. But not in public."
"Do you tell knock-knock jokes?"
Ophelia wished she could close her eyes and make this all go away. "Do you burp the alphabet, chew your nails and spit them out on the kitchen table, or breathe loudly during nap time?"
Oscar didn't miss a beat. "I wish, never, and does the occasional gurgle count as breathing loudly?" He smiled, and Ophelia wondered if he was toying with her. "May I please come in now?"
Ophelia considered saying no, but she thought she saw Thug — the new, nosy dog next door — poke his head under the fence. The last thing she needed was for that mutt to chomp the new fish inventor. MEW would blame her if anything happened to him. Ophelia yanked Oscar and his suitcase inside and closed the door.
Oscar studied her less-than-thrilled face. "Lis-ten, Ophelia: I know I'm the seventeenth inventor assigned to you, and that means you're picky about your partners. I respect that. If you give me a chance, you'll see that I can help you become an even better cat burglar than you already are." He smiled. "Go ahead and give me a challenge!"
Ophelia closed her eyes in a long blink. She wanted to challenge him to disappear, but MEW would be oh-so angry. ...
"Okay, okay. You want something to do? Go fetch the mail."
Oscar hesitated. "No offense, but I'm a senior inventor. I have more IQ points than you have shoes. I'm not a dog and I don't fetch things!"
An interesting thought gripped Ophelia. Perhaps if she gave the overeager fish nothing to do, maybe he'd get bored and go away on his own.
"Fine." She shrugged and flicked her whiskers. "Don't worry about it. I'll get my own mail. Why don't you just relax? There's really not much to do around here."
Ophelia dropped her phone. "What the —? Do you always say 'ta- da'? And is that wretched dog-robot design a joke?"
"Yes, I suppose I do say 'ta-da' quite a lot. Like a magician. However, P.U.G. is no joke." Oscar grinned. "It's quite a good likeness to that dog next door, wouldn't you say?"
"Listen, fish: I could drain your tank at any moment."
"Let's allow P.U.G. to prove its worthiness." Oscar whistled. "P.U.G.! Go get the mail!" The robot bounded outside at top speed.
When the mechanical abomination didn't return for several minutes, Ophelia poked her nose outside to see what was happening. Its head was in the dirt, its metal butt sticking straight up, and all four supersonic paws were frantically clawing up Ophelia's award-winning rosebush.
"Your dumb dog-bot invention is broken!" she yelled to Oscar. "You asked for the mail and it's digging up my garden!"
"Impossible," Oscar answered. "I coded it myself. P.U.G. is perfectly programmed to be quite doglike and very obedient."
Suddenly, P.U.G.'s tail started wagging and it emerged from the freshly dug hole with a small bag in its mouth. Proud and panting, it dragged the sack through the dirt and dropped it in front of Ophelia. Curious, she opened it and reached inside to retrieve the contents.
"YEOW! MEOW!" Her delicate paws became victims of several rose thorn prickles. But her pain was quickly replaced with puzzlement. The bag was full of dozens of unopened letters — all addressed to her!
Who would steal her mail and bury it in her garden? And why?!CHAPTER 4
A PURR-FECT STORM
What's in the bag?" Oscar was jumping out of his fins with curiosity. "Giant opals? Priceless coins? Secret love letters?"
"No, you nosy fish. They are ... invitations." Ophelia could hardly believe it. With each letter she opened, new waves of anger curled her whiskers. After a few moments, all of her fur stood on end. She pulled out one envelope after the other. Every one had the FFBI seal on the corner. "This bag is filled with invitations and reminders about the latest and greatest Furry Feline Burglary Institute Purr-fect Heist Competition! The one that's happening in Paris RIGHT NOW! The one that I can't win, because I didn't even know about it!"(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Snazzy Cat Capers"
Copyright © 2018 GrumpyFish Creative, Inc..
Excerpted by permission of Imprint.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
1 REBEL WITH SOME (LOVELY) CLAWS,
2 CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FUR,
3 P.U.G. & PRICKLES,
4 A PURR-FECT STORM,
5 PAWS-ITIVELY PREPARED,
6 FIN-VENTOR ON THE MOVE,
7 A SERIES OF UN-FUR-TUNATE EVENTS,
8 NOT A-MEWS-ED,
9 SEA YOU LATER,
10 PLANS FUR-LORN,
11 MEW, MEW, MEW-SEUM,
12 CAT-CH ME IF YOU CAN,
13 TIP THE SCALES,
15 CRIMINAL MEWS-TERMIND,
ABOUT THE AUTHOR & ILLUSTRATOR,