Celebrate the Season: The Twelve Pets of Christmas


By Taylor Garland

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Celebrate the true spirit of giving….

This Christmas, Quinn Cooper is combining the two things she loves the most, painting and animals, by making ornaments to raise money for her local pet shelter’s “12 Pets of Christmas” drive. The goal of the drive is to find forever homes for twelve cats and dogs before Christmas. With half the proceeds from her ornaments going to the shelter, Quinn plans to use the rest of the money she raises to buy a plane ticket to visit her best friend, who moved away last summer. As Christmas draws closer, the adopt-a-thon is going great… but Quinn’s favorite dog at the shelter, Buddy, is proving especially hard to place. Quinn finds the perfect home for the dog, but the family can’t afford to take on the financial responsibility of adopting him. Will the magic of Christmas help make sure that Quinn-and all the pets-have a very merry Christmas?

©2017 Hachette Book Group. All rights reserved.


Quinn Cooper didn’t even want to blink. If she blinked, she might miss something—and there was so much to see! Finer Arts, the art supply store in Quinn’s hometown of Marion, was her favorite place in the whole world.

Quinn trailed through each aisle—past the vibrant rainbow of paints; past the colored pencils in every hue imaginable; past handmade paper flecked with bits of gold and silver; past the long strands of glittering crystal beads. Every aisle inspired Quinn to start a new project. But now, she knew, was not the time. Not when she had so much to do!

Reluctantly, Quinn tore herself away from the handspun yarn section and headed toward the counter. The store’s owner, Ms. Morimoto, smiled as Quinn approached.

“Hi, Quinn! I have a surprise for you,” Ms. Morimoto began.

Quinn’s eyes lit up. “Did they come? Did they come?” she asked.

“Voilà!” Ms. Morimoto announced as she pulled a red box from under the counter. Her eyes were twinkling as she passed it to Quinn. “Careful, now… they’re very fragile.”

Quinn held her breath as she eased off the lid. Nestled inside the box were twelve perfectly round ornaments, each one made of delicate blown glass. The ornaments reflected the bright lights overhead, but otherwise they were completely blank.

“They’re perfect!” Quinn exclaimed. “Thank you, Ms. Morimoto!”

“It’s my pleasure,” the older woman replied. “I always try to make sure our special orders arrive as quickly as possible.”

“The timing is perfect,” Quinn said. “I’ll be able to paint them over Thanksgiving break!”

“Are they for your family’s Christmas tree?” asked Ms. Morimoto.

Quinn shook her head. “I’m going to donate them to the Marion Animal Shelter’s fund-raiser,” she replied. “They’re kicking off a special event this year—the Twelve Pets of Christmas.”

“Oh, yes—I’ve seen the flyers,” Ms. Morimoto replied. “Tell me more.”

“Mrs. Alvarez—she’s the shelter director—well, she had this amazing idea,” Quinn began. “The Twelve Pets of Christmas is a big promotional campaign to encourage people to adopt pets instead of buying them from a store. It kicks off with a fancy fund-raiser in ten days! There’s going to be food, and dancing, and special Christmas cookies, and an auction with some really cool stuff, and portraits of the Twelve Pets that we especially hope will be adopted before Christmas. I’m donating twelve hand-painted ornaments. I’m going to paint animals on them.”

“Genius!” Ms. Morimoto said. “I’m so impressed that you’re using your artistic talents for such a good cause, Quinn.”

“It’s the least I can do,” Quinn said. “I love helping out at the animal shelter after school. And that’s not all! At the benefit, I’ll be—”

Quinn’s voice trailed off.

“On second thought, maybe you could come see for yourself?” she continued. Quinn rummaged around in her backpack until she found a ticket to the fund-raiser. “All the volunteers got two free tickets. Would you like one of mine?”

Ms. Morimoto looked surprised, but only for a moment. Then a broad smile crossed her face. “I’d love to come. Thanks, Quinn!” she said as she took the ticket.

“Great! And that way you can see all the finished ornaments, too,” Quinn replied. “I hope they turn out okay. I’ve never painted on glass before.”

“I’m sure they’ll be beautiful!” Ms. Morimoto assured her. “Just remember that the colors you use will shift a little, depending on the color of the ornament. And, you know, you could always add a little…”

Quinn waited expectantly while Ms. Morimoto reached under the counter again.

“Here you go—on the house.” Ms. Morimoto gave Quinn a small jar of crystal glitter. “It’s Christmas,” she finished. “There’s no such thing as too much sparkle!”

“Thank you!” Quinn said.

“Just sprinkle it on while the paint’s still wet and you’ll be good to go,” Ms. Morimoto told her. “I’ll see you at the benefit—and all your ornaments, too!”

“Bye, Ms. Morimoto,” Quinn said as she carefully cradled the box of ornaments in her arms. “Thanks again—for everything!”

“Stay warm,” Ms. Morimoto called out. “It looks like it’s going to snow.”

“I hope so!” Quinn said, laughing. “Bye!”

When Quinn stepped outside, she realized that it didn’t just look like snow; it smelled like snow, too. That crisp, cold tang in the air was instantly recognizable. In her warm parka, Quinn didn’t mind the chilly temperatures as she walked a couple of blocks home to the condo where she lived with her dad and their pet cat, Piper. It would be unusual to get a big snowstorm before Thanksgiving—but not impossible. Quinn couldn’t help grinning as she remembered the massive blizzard that had hit Marion last winter, closing school for an entire week! Quinn and her best friend, Annabelle, had gone sledding on the big hill in Center Park for hours. Then, because school was closed, Annabelle got to sleep over at Quinn’s house for two nights in a row!

It was a great memory—but it made Quinn a little sad, too. If there was a big snowstorm this year, she and Annabelle wouldn’t be sledding together, and Annabelle wouldn’t be spending the night. Just three months ago, Annabelle had moved all the way to California… and Quinn had no idea when they would get to see each other again. That was one of the reasons why Quinn was so grateful for the opportunity to volunteer at the animal shelter. Playing with the kittens always made her laugh, and she loved taking the dogs for walks in the neighborhood. Quinn knew how important it was to shower the shelter animals with lots of love and care while they waited to be adopted. Happy animals were much more likely to be adopted—and happy animals knew that they were loved. Most of all, though, staying busy helped Quinn keep her mind off how much she missed Annabelle.

“Hey, Dad!” Quinn called out as she walked through the front door.

“Hey, Q!” he called back from his office. As an illustrator, Quinn’s dad worked from home in an office that was nearly as well stocked as Ms. Morimoto’s store.

“Look—my ornaments came!” Quinn announced as she carefully placed the box on the kitchen table.

“Great news,” Dad said as he appeared in the doorway. “I had a feeling Ms. Morimoto would come through for you.”

“Four days with no school, no homework, nothing but painting…” Quinn said in a dreamy voice. “One more day until Thanksgiving break, and I can’t wait!”

She snuck a glance at the clock. Technically, the rule was that Quinn had to finish her homework before she could paint or draw, but maybe Dad would make an exception today.

As if Dad could read her mind, he laughed. “Go ahead, Q,” he said. “I don’t see why you can’t do your homework after dinner today.”

“How did you know what I was thinking?” Quinn asked, smiling.

“You got that look in your eyes,” he said knowingly. “That I can’t wait to get started gleam. I recognized it right away.”

Quinn crossed the room to give her dad a big hug. “Thanks, Dad,” she said. “I promise I’ll get all my homework done after dinner. And I’ll do the dishes, too!”

“Even better!” Dad joked.

Quinn scooped up the ornaments and hurried back to her room. It was hard for Quinn to keep her desk tidy—it was always cluttered with school papers, pencils, and books—but she kept her art table perfectly organized. When she had the urge to paint or draw, the last thing Quinn wanted to do was waste time cleaning up!

Quinn’s acrylic paints were already arranged in rainbow order. She’d picked out a few metallic accent colors, too—silver, gold, and crimson—which shimmered under the bright light as she poured little pools of paint onto her palette. Then Quinn picked out a gold ornament from the box. She stared at it, deep in thought, as she tried to decide what, exactly, she would paint there.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Quinn didn’t even notice that she was tapping the end of her paintbrush against the side of her palette. The gold ornament reminds me of Annabelle’s dog, Bumblebee, she thought. But if I paint him, he’ll blend right into the ornament.

But there was no reason Quinn couldn’t paint a dark brown dog instead!

Quinn had been painting animals for ages—especially her friends’ pets—so it wasn’t too hard for her to paint a chocolate-brown version of Bumblebee. She grinned to herself as she made one of the dog’s ears flop the wrong way. It made the dog on the ornament look curious and playful—and ready for fun!

I have got to text a picture of this to Annabelle, Quinn thought as she examined her work. But the ornament didn’t feel quite finished. There was something missing… but what?

It’s not festive enough, Quinn suddenly realized. With quick, sure strokes, she painted a wreath of dark green leaves around the dog’s face. Then she added a few bright red holly berries for a pop of color.

“Less is more” was one of those things adults liked to say, and most of the time, Quinn couldn’t disagree more. Fewer chocolate chips in a cookie and less frosting on a cupcake were definitely not better than the opposite.

But when it came to artwork, Quinn knew it was usually true. Sure, she could add more and more decoration to the gold ornament, but something deep inside told her that it was just right—just the way it was.

And just in time, too, as Dad called to Quinn from the kitchen, “Dinner’s ready!”

Quinn carefully nestled the ornament back in the box, with the painted side up so that it wouldn’t smudge. One down… eleven to go. Quinn couldn’t wait to find out what she’d paint next!

Quinn leaned close to the mirror as she applied a thin coat of sparkly lip gloss. She didn’t usually wear makeup—but this wasn’t a usual night. The Twelve Pets of Christmas gala fund-raiser was in just an hour!

Quinn smoothed her hands over her tulle skirt. Tiny specks of glitter were embedded in the purple material so that Quinn’s dress sparkled whenever she moved—almost like one of the ornaments she’d painted! Mrs. Alvarez had been delighted by Quinn’s ornaments when she’d delivered them the day before. Quinn could only hope that everyone else attending the auction would feel the same way.

“Ready, Q?” Dad called from the hallway.

“Almost!” Quinn replied. Then she rummaged around in her jewelry box, looking for the perfect accessory: her gold locket with the shape of a paw print on the front. When Quinn found the necklace, she clutched it in her palm as she hurried over to Dad.

“You look beautiful, kiddo!” he announced with a big smile. “When did you get so grown-up?”

Dad. Come on,” Quinn said—but she smiled all the same. “Can you help me with this?”

“I’ll do my best,” he replied as he fumbled with the tiny clasp.

“Thanks, Dad,” Quinn said after the necklace was on. “Now I’m ready!”

“Want to walk?” Dad asked. “I don’t think it’s too cold tonight.”

“Sure,” Quinn replied. Their condo was only a couple of blocks from downtown, so just about everything was within walking distance.

The night air was crisp and cool as Quinn and her dad walked toward the Palladium Center, where the gala would be held. To Quinn, everything was sparkling—from the tiny lights that twinkled in the trees to the stars that shone high overhead. She was so excited about the gala that she almost skipped a little as they walked.

Quinn and her dad were among the first guests to arrive. Quinn could hardly believe the transformation that had happened at the Palladium Center in just twenty-four hours. When she’d dropped off the ornaments the day before, the ballroom had been bare and, under the bright fluorescent lights, almost kind of ugly.

But now?

It was one of the most festive and fancy places Quinn had ever been! Each wall was lined with a long table. The table closest to the door had large portraits of each of the Twelve Pets of Christmas—Lobo and Nana; Rufus and Snowdrop; Tops and Tippy; Paisley, Polka, and Dot; Pixie and Applesauce; and of course, Buddy, one of Quinn’s favorite pets.

On the right side of the ballroom, the table was laden with desserts: tiny chocolate-iced eclairs; peppermint-striped candy-cane cookies; cupcakes topped with frosting wreaths and sparkly sugared cranberries. Quinn’s favorite, though, were the gingerbread doghouses decorated with every candy imaginable. She gasped in delight when she realized something.

“Dad! Look!” Quinn cried. “There are six doghouses—and each one has a gingerbread dog in front and a gingerbread cat perched on the roof! And—and they’re the Twelve Pets up for adoption!”

Dad grinned. “That’s some impressive attention to detail,” he said approvingly.

Quinn leaned close to each doghouse to get a better look. “Look!” she said. “There’s Applesauce and Snowdrop… and this one looks just like Rufus.…”

“Quinn!” a voice said.

Quinn spun around to see Ms. Morimoto from the art store. “You came!” she said excitedly. “Thank you!”

Ms. Morimoto smiled. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” she replied. Then she turned to Quinn’s dad. “Hi, Alan. You must be so proud of your daughter.”

“Well, of course,” Dad replied as he wrapped his arm around Quinn.


On Sale
Oct 10, 2017
Page Count
176 pages

Taylor Garland

About the Author

Taylor Garland has written books for children of all ages. When she isn’t dreaming up stories, Taylor loves giving out Halloween treats.

Learn more about this author