4.8 41
by Peg Kehret

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Matt is missing. Bonnie's brother left his classroom to use thebathroom —and disappeared. A police dog traces his scent to the curb, where he apparently got into a vehicle. But why would Matt go anywhere with a stranger? Overwhelmed with fear, Bonnie discovers that her dog is gone, too. Was Pookie used as a lure for Matt? Bonnie makes one big mistake in her…  See more details below


Matt is missing. Bonnie's brother left his classroom to use thebathroom —and disappeared. A police dog traces his scent to the curb, where he apparently got into a vehicle. But why would Matt go anywhere with a stranger? Overwhelmed with fear, Bonnie discovers that her dog is gone, too. Was Pookie used as a lure for Matt? Bonnie makes one big mistake in her attempt to find her brother. In a chilling climax on a Washington State ferry, Bonnie and Matt must outsmart their abductor or pay with their lives.

Editorial Reviews

Thirteen-year-old Bonnie's younger brother, Matt, and his dog, Pookie, are missing, and none of the clues are adding up at first. Denny, Matt's father, has never actually seen his son after the divorce from Matt's mother, Anita, but Denny recognizes Matt when he is with his sister. Donning a wig, false mustache, and fake UPS uniform, Denny pretends to deliver a package at the school where Matt attends. Matt walks out of his classroom and right into the path of Denny, who puts on the act of coaxing him into his car. Denny tells Matt that Pookie is injured and needs to be taken to the vet quickly. Bonnie's unsettling dream on the day before Matt is kidnapped fortunately allows her to follow her instincts to help find him. Although this mostly fast-paced read involves some heart-stopping moments, especially when Denny reveals a gun, some aspects slow the story, such as the couple who finds Pookie in the park and decide to keep him as their pet. Savvy teens will appreciate that even in a post-September 11 world, the school abduction scene is realistic. Matt, a sharp kindergartener who realizes that he is in a bad situation, will tug on the heartstrings of teens who have younger siblings. Bonnie plays a strong role as an intelligent and caring sister who eventually foils Denny's plan to kill her when all three are together on a ferry. Tough issues such as divorce, nightmares, domestic violence, safety, and awareness are well balanced and provide material for thoughtful discussion. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2004, Dutton, 224p., Ages 11 to 14.
—Kelly Czarnecki
Bonnie is a pretty typical seventh grade student. She is responsible for her six-year-old brother after school and so she leaves the middle school directly to join her brother in the bus line and get him home. But on this Friday her brother isn't standing in the line waiting for her. In fact, he has disappeared from the elementary school. The school is searched, the teachers are brought in, and finally the police arrive, but Matt Stolter is still missing, abducted by his father. Denny Thurman is a desperate man and intends to use Matt to get money to pay off gambling debts. He disguises himself to cover his tracks and uses a pet dog to lure Matt away. While Bonnie and her mother talk to news media, hang posters, and wait for news, Denny hides Matt in an apartment and tells him that his mother and sister have died. After a week, Matt is bored and Denny needs more money—fast. Matt, Bonnie and Denny end up at a Mariners game in Safeco Field where the situation goes from coincidence to climax. The novel follows the situation at home and at Denny's as the sense of loss and missed clues mount up. Coincidence provides much of the suspense. There is little violence and the story is happily resolved. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2004, Penguin, Dutton, 224p., Ages 12 to 15.
—Janis Flint-Ferguson
Children's Literature
With the innocent assistance of his dog Pookie, six-year-old Matt is spirited away from his school by his ne'er-do-well lost father. Thus begins a tight scenario that lays out all the dos and don'ts of capture, police/Amber Alert searches, and pursuit in a modern-day kidnapping. The suspense is heightened by scenes cutting between the abducted boy and his older sister, Bonnie—not to mention the elderly couple who blithely adopt Pookie after discovering him apparently abandoned in a park. Kehret is obviously writing a cautionary tale for younger readers (witness the book's Junior Library Guild Selection), so keeps the dramatics and the villain's perfidy at a reasonable level while still making her point. While it is a pity that we live in a society in which such a theme should be necessary, Kehret's theme does fill a gap. Fortunately, it also works as straight suspense. 2004, Dutton, Ages 8 to 12.
—Kathleen Karr
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-Matt, a kindergartener, meets his 13-year-old half sister every day after school for the ride home. When he fails to show up, Bonnie immediately notifies his teacher and principal, and a full-scale search ensues. Even though Matt has been taught "stranger danger," he is lured into the kidnapper's car with his own dog, stolen from his house. The kidnapper is the boy's father, whom he has never met, and who tells Matt that his mother and sister are dead. So even though the boy knows his phone number, he doesn't try to call. The story portrays a kidnapper's determination and the ease with which a child can be swayed by a stranger despite years of teaching. The novel also does a good job of incorporating modern-day search techniques, such as an Amber Alert, and explaining their use. The plot stretches a bit when Bonnie spots her brother at a Seattle Mariners game, but it does make for a suspenseful ending as she also becomes a victim. The story is resolved happily but with a twist showing the remorse of the people who could have helped along the way but didn't for various reasons. This novel has enough suspense to keep children interested, and it will also appeal to reluctant readers.-Diana Pierce, Running Brushy Middle School, Cedar Park, TX Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In a highly suspenseful but simply written kidnapping story, 13-year-old Bonnie tries to find her five-year-old brother, Matt, when the boy is taken by his sociopath father, whom he's never met. Kehret tells the story from many different perspectives, including those of Bonnie, Matt and the kidnapper, Denny. She dramatizes the police and community efforts to find the boy, and highlights Denny's twisted personality as well as little Matt's responses to his predicament and the missed opportunities of others who inadvertently come into contact with the case. When Bonnie decides to pursue Denny on her own, her efforts lead to a dramatic climax that may put her own life in danger. Kehret writes these stories over and over again, but she always demonstrates a deft touch in maintaining suspense while keeping her narrative light enough for the age of her intended audience. It's entertaining and enlightening for older children as well as some reluctant adolescent readers. (Fiction. 9-14)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Sales rank:
760L (what's this?)
File size:
1 MB
Age Range:
10 Years

Meet the Author

Peg Kehret was born in Wisconsin, grew up in Minnesota, spent fourteen years in California, and now lives with her husband in Washington State. They have two grown children, four grandchildren, one dog, and one cat.

Peg's novels for children are regularly recommended by the American Library Association, the International Reading Association, and the Children's Book Council. She has won many state "young reader" or "children's choice" awards. Peg's characters are ordinary kids who find themselves in exciting situations and who use their wits to solve their problems. There is usually humor as well as suspense in her books. A long-time volunteer at The Humane Society, she often uses animals in her stories.

Before she began writing books for children, Peg published plays, short stories, articles, and two books for adults. She is a frequent speaker at conferences for librarians and teachers.

At the age of twelve, Peg had polio and was paralyzed from the neck down. Because she can remember that experience and her year of recovery so vividly, she finds it easy to write in the viewpoint of a twelve or thirteen year old. Most of her main characters are that age. Her autobiography, Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio, won the Golden Kite Award from the Society of Children's Book Writers&Illustrators, and the PEN Center USA West Award for Children's Literature.

When she is not writing, Peg likes to watch baseball, bake cookies, and pump her old player piano.

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