I wasn’t a huge fan of this one, because I am not a cat person at all. So, I HATED reading a book all about one. It is like the book about Jessi pet-sitting for that family with a zillion animals.
I can’t really remember the details of the plot, but I remember how after awhile I noticed the 8th graders in the series had all gotten a second or third mystery book, and Jessi and Mal only had one each. I guess they thought it was to unrealistic to have 11 year-olds running around solving crimes? Thirteen-year-olds doing it makes much more sense.
Mal gets a bunch of sitting jobs for a new client, the Craines, a family with three little girls. When she is at their house, she hears meowing, and thinks they must have cat. But, the girls tell her they don’t have any pets. I know, it is off to a thrilling start. When Mal and the girls keep hearing the meowing, they decide to search the house. The Craines think it must be a “ghost cat,” because they keep hearing it but not seeing it. Then, Mal takes the girls into the attic, and they see a white cat that got in through a hole in the wall. Mrs. Crane lets the girls take care of the cat while they look for the owner. They decide to name it “Ghost Cat.”
At her next sitting job for the Craines, Mallory takes them back to the attic where they find a box of old letters. They look through them and it turns off they are from a guy who used to live in the house (the person he was writing to, gave them to the relative that lived in the house next). One day this guy found a white cat and adopted him. When the cat died, the guy “was never the same again.” Mal decides that the cat they found must actually be the ghost of this cat. She actually tells the girls this, and invites Dawn over to “test” whether the theory is true. Of course, the tests show it was a real animal. Then, the real owner is found, and he comes to pick up the cat. And he looks a lot like the pictures of the old guy who used to live in the house. So, this adds to the ghost speculation, but it is the end of the story.
There is also a subplot, where Mal’s Great-Uncle Joe is staying with the Pikes. He is living in a nursing home in town, but Mr. Pike invites him to spend a few weeks with the family. Joe doesn’t exactly take to having eight rowdy children around all the time, and the kids, as well as the rest of the BSC are upset about this and think he’s mean. Uncle Joe finally starts to warm up to the kids, right before he moves out. However, we also find out Uncle Joe has the early signs of Alzheimer’s, so there’s not really a happy ending on that storyline.
- I can remember this scene vividly. Mallory is making English-muffin pizzas for her family’s dinner, and goes into a long explanation of how much she likes artichokes.
- When Mal finds out Uncle Joe is staying with them, her first question is to ask if her parents will still need her to baby-sit. Cause all teenagers want to spend their free time taking care of their younger siblings.
- Jordan Pike likes to eat peanut-butter-and-banana-and-salami sandwiches. What is it with the Pikes and their weird food combinations?
- Not a lot of outfits in this one, the only one we get is for Claire Pike. She likes a dress that looks like Lucy’s from Peanuts. Well, she is certainly no Suri Cruise.
- On an unrelated note, does anyone else find the existence of a Suri Cruise Fashion blog, just a little creepy?
- The welcome sign for Uncle Joe says, “Welkome Uncle Jow!” But, we can’t blame Claudia for it, Margo and Claire made it by themselves.
- When the kids are hanging the sign, the triplets get a hammer and nails. Why would they need that for a paper sign? And what kind of baby-sitter lets kids make holes in the wall for no real reason?
- The Craines are new clients because their Aunt Bud, who usually sits for them, broke her leg riding her motorcycle. When Mal meets her, she assumes she will have tattoos and wear leather…and wonders what to do if Aunt Bud offers her a beer. (Bud) turns out to be totally normal though. And Bud is a nickname for Ellen.
- When they are looking for the cat, Mal asks the kids if they are allowed in the attic. They say “yes,” but only if an adult is with them. Of course, Mal decides she qualifies.
- When Claudia meets Uncle Joe, she actually calls him, “Uncle Joe.” And unlike what usually happens in BSC-land, he gets pissed and yells at her to call him Mr. Pike.
- Karen and her friend are playing that stupid “Lovely Ladies” game. I always thought this was an excuse to dress-up, but it turns out they actually run through some lame dialogue, where they call themselves “lovely ladies” a million times. And they say the same thing every time they play. Now, I thought Karen was supposed to be imaginative. When I was little, my friend and I would act out different parts/scenes when we dressed up, and would put on “shows” for our parents. What is the fun of doing the same thing over and over?
- I remember this part too….and I think it may have happened in a Sweet Valley Twins book. (Or some other similar series). Mrs. Pike insists on cooking only plain food, all the time, for Uncle Joe (and by extension the whole family). Then at the end, Uncle Joe reveals that he actually loves spicy food, and sneaks hot sauce at every meal.
- How is it responsibly baby-sitting to bring Dawn over, tell a 6-, 4-, and 2-year-old that their pet might be a ghost, and then perform “tests” like pouring flour on the floor to see if the cat leaves footprints?
- Karen goes on a sitting job with Kristy, so she can play with Melody Korman. But Melody pretends to be a cat all night, so Karen gets bored and goes home early.
- This book is WAY to heavily cat-themed.
- Dawn has all these ghost-busting “gadgets” that she sent away for. Mallory can tell they are cardboard, so I don’t know why Dawn would think they would work. I bet even Claud wouldn’t think that.
- This mystery is really the lamest ever. Seriously. I can’t even figure out what it actually was. I know I complained last week that an actual mystery was too ridiculous, but there is a fine line between trying to figure out what psycho is stalking you and trying to figure out where some cat noises are coming from.
- After Ghost Cat is returned to his rightful owner, the Craine girls think the man was a ghost too. And Mallory decides she can’t come up with an argument with this. She then declares the mystery “solved” because the owner and cat were reunited and happy.
- The Craine girls tell Mal that after the cat is returned home, they haven’t heard meowing from the attic. Um, how is that evidence that the cat was a ghost? I mean, they think it is because sometimes it sounded like the cat was in the attic when it wasn’t. But that could just be the house. Evidence of there being a ghost would be if the noises did continue after the physical cat left.
- Mr. and Mrs. Craine decide to get a cat of their own, and the girls pick one out that looks like Ghost Cat. Cause that isn't predictable or anything.
- At least this book gives an explanation for why the Craines need a million sitters for this book and then are never heard from again – their usual sitter is Aunt Bud, who can sit again once her broken leg is healed.
- It is really sad to think about this guy writing letters, who is never the same again after his cat died. I mean, this is in the same book as someone having Alzheimer’s. It’s rather depressing.