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The Stranger Next Door Hardcover – April 15, 2002

4.6 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Pete the Cat Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grades 4-8--Alex is less than thrilled when his family moves into a new housing development. The 12-year-old has left his old school and friends behind, and his new classmates blame him because the new houses were built over their old dirt-bike paths. He becomes hopeful when a family with a son his age moves in next door. However, sullen Rocky is not responsive to Alex's attempts at friendship. Things get worse when street signs begin disappearing and fires start in the neighborhood, one destroying Rocky's house. Alex is sure that the boy is hiding something. Part of the story is told from the point of view of Alex's cat Pete, who can understand the speech of humans, even if they can only interpret his meows as demands for food in return. The feline helps to solve the mystery and to save Alex's life. Characterization is solid, though characters react a little too stoically to traumatic revelations and events. The story moves swiftly and holds interest. However, because of the fast pace, little attention is given to explaining the motive behind the arson, which involves insurance fraud, a concept that will be unfamiliar to most children. A quick, exciting read to entice reluctant readers.
Heather Dieffenbach, Lexington Public Library, KY
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Gr. 4-6. In the tradition of adult mystery writers Rita Mae Brown and Lillian Jackson Braun, Kehret introduces a new sleuth (and coauthor), observant Pete the Cat, a hefty, self-assured feline who doesn't shy away from danger or his food dish. Pete's owner, Alex, is having a rough time: his family recently moved into a new housing development where there aren't any kids his age; he misses his old neighborhood and friends; and he's being bullied by boys who resent the loss of their favorite dirt bike trails in the development. When 12-year-old Rocky and his family move in next door, Alex is thrilled, though Rocky's evasiveness and aloof behavior are puzzling. Is he hiding something? Could he be responsible for the rash of vandalism and arson in the development? Pete, of course, discovers who is behind the crimes. The problem then becomes one of making his humans understand. Kehret packs a lot of action and tension in this easy-to-handle mystery, leavening it nicely with Pete's entertaining swaggering and sleuthing. Chris Sherman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 680L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Juvenile; 1st edition (April 15, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525468293
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525468295
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.7 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,384,939 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

A Kid's Review on August 18, 2011
Format: Paperback
I think the book is hilarious because every time the cat tries to tell the humans something, they think the cat wants food. The cat actually seems smarter than the humans in the book. The story is about people moving in. Soon after they move in, there are mysterious fires and signs being cut down. The police started investigating the fires. The funny part is, the cat knew who was setting the houses on fire and tried to tell the police. If the humans could understand the cat, the book would be very short. It also wouldn't be as funny... I would definitely reccomend this book to people who like funny books.
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A Kid's Review on October 25, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book keeps you on the edge of your seat when you read it. There is this kid and his name is Alex and he and his family just moved into this brand new house just built. The neighbour hood is called Valley View Estates. There is this new family moving in next to him and he hopes there is a boy his age moving in. This book was great and it was over in a jiffy!
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A Kid's Review on April 20, 2005
Format: Paperback
The Stranger Next Door is an amazing and a heart pounding book because a little cat ends up doing a big thing. The main characters are Alex an ordinary boy, his friend Rocky, and a cat that knows everything. The problem is that someone keeps on setting houses on fire, and the only one who knows who did it is Pete the cat, unfortunately he can't talk. The setting is in Kansas. I like it because there are problems in the book, and if you keep on reading you will figure them out. Lastly I like it because in the end Pete the cat leads Rocky to find Alex who is stuck in a burning house. So actually Pete the cat saved his owners life. You should read this book because it is the best book I have ever read.
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A Kid's Review on February 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
The Kedndrill family moved to a new housing development. The Morris family had to move from Washington to South Calaforina because they are in the witness protection program and the reason they are in it is because Rocky's dad is a drug dealer and the morris helped the FBI get him. The mob wonts to kill them so the moved. Rockys mom had to go back to washington to testify against Rocky's dad. While she is gone there house is set on fire by the owner of the house. The cat saved the morris because he sleep out side and saw the fire and went back in the house to wake up Alex. Two days later there was two more fires. Alex was taken hosage and was put in one of the house taht was getting set on fire. The cat was trying to save Alex but no one would follow him to the house. Alexs dad saw the flames and called the fire department. The cat tryed to save alex but he got hit with a board that was on fire. Pete passed out and when he woke up Alex was out of the house and pete fwas going to the vets.
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Format: Paperback
This book is actually better than I expected. Although the author's cat helped write parts of this book, in the story we know what the cat is thinking and saying, but the people in the book only hear it meowing which makes it more realistic. Shortly after an aloof family move in next door to Alex's family, houses burn in the neighborhood, including the new neighbor's. Pete the cat sees what happens and using his cat intelligence, makes his people aware of what is happening.

This book has both mystery and adventure, plus it's a quick fun read with the Pete the Cat being one of the main characters. I think any kid who likes cats would enjoy this book very much, I did!
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A Kid's Review on June 20, 2010
Format: Paperback
It starts when Alex (an 11 year old boy) was in bed and he started to smell smoke, he ran outside and couldn't believe his eyes. The house next door was on fire!!!!!!! Alex and Pete his cat have been through a lot of things in the story I can't even explain. They are pretty much the main characters in the book.

My favorite part in the book is when Alex gets rescued in a house that was on fire. To get more details, you are going to have to read the book itself. I would recommend this book to readers who LOVE mysteries!! Peg Kehret is a great writer, especially in this book. -- Grace
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
She picked it up and couldn't put it down. Typically she is asking how much more time tile I can finish reading. On this book I never heard a word til she was done then she was talking all about it. Thanks Amazon!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book after discovering several 4th grade girls giggling over it in the corner of my library. They were reading it aloud to each other with one being the humans and one being the cat and having a great time. Any book that interests kids that much without it being something that adults wouldn't want them to read has to be OK.

Being a true fan of Sneaky Pie Brown, I found some of the dialogue of Pete a little bit too similar and the plot was a bit on the weak side but still a fun book for kids -- epecially the animal lovers. I plan to buy a few more of the series now.
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