The Stranger Next Door

( 6 )


If there’s a mystery to be solved, Pete’s your man. Er, your cat. Pete’s a cat, specifically, Alex’s cat. And since Alex and his family moved into a new housing development, Pete is Alex’s only friend. Things start looking up for Alex when Rocky moves in next door. But Rocky isn’t very friendly, and Alex starts to suspect he’s hiding something. And when the neighborhood is terrorized by a rash of fires and vandalism, Pete knows that he’s got to investigate.

A clever...

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The Stranger Next Door

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If there’s a mystery to be solved, Pete’s your man. Er, your cat. Pete’s a cat, specifically, Alex’s cat. And since Alex and his family moved into a new housing development, Pete is Alex’s only friend. Things start looking up for Alex when Rocky moves in next door. But Rocky isn’t very friendly, and Alex starts to suspect he’s hiding something. And when the neighborhood is terrorized by a rash of fires and vandalism, Pete knows that he’s got to investigate.

A clever cat's heroism helps two twelve-year-old boys become friends after their families, one of which is in a witness protection program, move to neighboring houses in Hilltop, Washington.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Popular author, Peg Kehret, explains in her prologue that both she and her cat, Pete, have written this story. Pete is also a character in this book and periodically relates the events in the story from his point of view (Pete's story is told in italics). Pete is the pet of Alex Kendrill, a twelve-year-old boy who is looking for new friends in his new neighborhood. Alex and his family have moved into a brand new house in a new housing development that has very few residents. Alex's only friend at this point is his cat, Pete. He has had trouble with some of the bullies at school, so when he discovers that a boy his age is moving in next door, he is eager to make friends with him. Rocky moves in next door, but is not at all interested in becoming friends with Alex or anyone else. Rocky is trying to maintain a low profile because his family has just been placed in the witness-protection program. Not long after Rocky moves in, bad things begin to happen in the neighborhood—street signs are missing and an arson fire occurs in some of the homes. Tragically, Rocky's new home is one of the houses destroyed by a fire. Alex and his family come to the aid of Rocky and his family during this time. With the help of Pete the Cat, Alex discovers who is setting the fires. Unfortunately the arsonist captures Alex and imprisons him inside a burning house. This time Rocky comes to Alex's rescue, again with the clever help from Pete. The arsonist is captured and the boys begin to become close friends. 2002, Dutton Children's Books/Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers,
— Maureen Boyle
This mystery begins with two stories, first that of Alex and his family, who have moved into a new, upscale housing development, and second, of Clifford, whose parents suddenly uproot him from everything he knows and move cross-country, next door to Alex. Alex, his younger brother, parents, and Pete the Cat welcome the new neighbors, but the boys find Rocky—formerly Clifford—standoffish. As Alex is bullied at school about becoming too upper class, simple acts of vandalism begin in the new neighborhood and Alex suspects the bullies or Rocky. When the new neighbors' house catches on fire, things begin to take on a serious note. Meanwhile, Clifford/Rocky has learned that his mother is in the witness protection program and must testify against his biological father, a drug trafficker. Alex discovers that the person responsible for the fires in the area is the developer, and his discovery leads to the developer attempting to killhim. Through all of this fast-moving adventure, Rocky ends up saving Alex's life—with Pete's help—and they become friends. The gimmick to this book is the use of the cat, Pete, to tell part of the story. Printed in italic, his observations note things that humans do not. Pete has an integral part in the plot and is injured while trying to rescue Alex from another fire in a vacant house. This mystery involving secret identities, school bullies, arson, and monetary gain holds special appeal for young teens and reluctant readers. VOYA CODES: 3Q 4P M (Readable without serious defects; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2002, Dutton, 160p, $15.99. Ages 11 to 14. Reviewer: Patricia Morrow SOURCE: VOYA, February2002 (Vol. 24, No.6)
School Library Journal
Gr 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 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Fans of Kehret (Saving Lily, 2001, etc.)-and fans of cats-will appreciate this suspenseful novel about two boys who discover friendship after facing peril. This is thanks in no small part to the author's resourceful feline, Pete the Cat, who "cowrote" the novel (his contributions to Kehret's narrative are explained in the amusing prologue and are italicized throughout). Said feline also wrote a juicy role for himself within the storyline so that he figures in the solution to the mystery. Happily for readers, while Pete's "speech" sounds like plain old meow to his unknowing owners, his writing is perfectly comprehensible as English. Twelve-year-old Alex Kendrill has moved to a new housing development in Seattle with his parents, six-year-old brother, and pet cat. Friendless at school and picked on by some bullies, Alex's spirits pick up when he learns a new family is moving in next door. Believing he might make a new friend at last, Alex's hopes are dashed when the boy, Rocky Morris, in fact shuns contact and is evasive about himself and his past. Kehret keeps her story exciting and dangerous. There are vandals afoot, not to mention a mysterious arsonist who attempts to murder Alex in a terrifying episode in which Alex is trapped in a house that the arsonist has set ablaze. Add to this Rocky's constant fear that his family's closely guarded secret will be found out: they are in the Witness Protection Program because Rocky's mom's testimony before Congress will bring down a major drug kingpin. All these ingredients add up to a satisfying, fast-paced read. Readers will be caught up in the action even as they are amused by Pete's astute observations and adroit detective work. (Fiction.10-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142412480
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/19/2008
  • Series: Peg Kehret's Pete the Cat Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 253,406
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 4.88 (w) x 7.02 (h) x 0.49 (d)

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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Highly Recommended

    "The Stranger Next Door" written by Peg Kehrt is an exciting, comical, mystery book. The main character is an eleven year old boy named Alex, who has just moved into Valley View Estates. Then a boy named Rocky moves in next door, Rocky doesn't ever talk to Alex. What Alex doesn't know is that he is in the Witness Protection Program so he doesn't really want to play or talk because he is scared that his secret might slip out. The first week of school the new neighbor got in a fight with two other kids named Duke and Henry. Duke and Henry are mad at Rocky and Alex because they used to have dirt bike trails where their new houses are. A couple weeks later, someone was cutting down their street signs but the vandalism got much worse. Someone started setting fires to houses across the neighborhood. Could it be Duke and Henry trying to get their revenge on Rocky and Alex? I highly recommend this book. It keeps your eyes glued to the page. You never know what will happen next! Peg Kehret wrote this book so well and I would recommend anybody to read it. If you enjoy books that are funny, exiting, and suspenseful you will love "The Stranger Next Door" like I do and should defiantly consider reading this book sometime in the future. I rate this book about four and a half out of five stars!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    I loved it!!!!

    This book was a great read. I enjoyed it a hole lot. This book taught me that friendship is important and friends will always come through for you. It also taugh me to love my pets and try to understand their poing of view. Anyways I really loved this book and I think everyone should read it at one time or another. This book is great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Posted April 3, 2009

    An awesome book!

    The stranger next door is a awesome book that I think a lot of kids that love mysteries would enjoy. I love this book and I think Peg Kehret did an awesome job writing it.

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  • Posted January 4, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    LOVE it!

    This is such a good book! I love how Peg Kehret switches from different ponts of view! This is probably one of the BEST BOOKS EVER! Also, you should read Escaping the Giant Wave!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2008

    great book

    this book is beastly AWESOME! i loved it. the story 'plot' may be diffucult for the age 10 and under. this book keeps you on the edge of your seat and begging what will happen next in this mystery thriller. i HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone who likes a mystery.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2007

    the stranger next door a suspenseful tale

    A suspenseful tale about a kid named Clifford who has a great life until he and his parents had to leave their home and leave everything they owned behind. They could only take whatever they could fit into a suitcase. Clifford is upset when he had to leave his dog behind. Later his parents told Clifford why they had to leave. Clifford understood. They all even had to change their names. Clifford¿s name was changed to Rocky. This boy Alex and his brother benji were excited they were getting new neighbors. When Rocky arrives he doesn¿t talk to Alex or benji. Two days later someone sets rocky¿s house on fire. Alex¿s cat Pete knows what is going on but he can¿t be understood by his humans Find this book to find out what happens to rocky and how Alex feels about it. I liked this book because it has a lot of suspense and terror and mystery sneaking about it. The author peg kehret writes and includes her cat peat in 2 of her mind boggling stories.

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