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.
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 ShermanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved