Books by Peg Kehret

Released: Oct. 16, 2014

"A diverting, fast-paced thriller aimed at girls. (Mystery. 8-12)"
In Kehret's neatly plotted suspense story, Emmy Rushford, a valiant sixth-grade girl, stumbles onto a burglar's lair while helping a youngster get food for herself and her hungry family. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 16, 2012

"A pet lover's delight. (9-13)"
In a dream house on land certified as a wildlife sanctuary, Kehret and her husband Carl made their home welcome to animals. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2010

Sixth grader Randy spots a dog tied to a tree in a sleet storm and resolves to help, but after visiting it, he realizes it's being seriously abused. Although he reports the cruelty to the police, he's told that without proof of abuse, which he must collect, they cannot intervene. The appearance of a ghost dog determined to push Randy into saving the animal—and some encouragement from a friend—finally motivate him to rescue the dog by stealing it and hiding it away. Later, after being found out by his mother, she reluctantly becomes the dog's official foster parent, even as they are being stalked by its violent owner. The ghost dog makes several appearances, each time presciently guiding Randy. A lecture he (bizarrely) receives in school on "evidence to look for if we think someone has a methamphetamine lab on their property," plays a major role in the conclusion, one of several too-convenient aspects of the resolution. Readers eager for ghosts and suspense may enjoy this only-average, sometimes improbable effort. (pattern for animal-shelter cat blanket, Web resources on ghosts and animal cruelty) (Fiction. 10-12)Read full book review >
RUNAWAY TWIN by Peg Kehret
Released: Oct. 1, 2009

A runaway teen travels from Nebraska to Washington searching for the twin sister she's been separated from for ten years. Haunted by memories of her sister, 13-year-old Sunny decides it's time to start looking when she stumbles upon an abandoned bag of money. A veteran of seven foster-care placements, Sunny doesn't want to leave her current home with Rita, who gives her space, makes her laugh and lets her choose clothes, books and music. Propelled by her dream of finding her sister, though, Sunny carefully escapes by bus, but she isn't prepared for the homeless dog, the bullies or the tornado she encounters en route. Nor is she prepared for what her search reveals. Narrating her tale in a realistic voice, Sunny explains she's not a bad girl. As she crosses the country alone, she's resilient in the face of danger, honest when temptation calls and pragmatic when she realizes Rita may be the family she needs. Although Sunny's resourcefulness and maturity stretch credibility, her dogged determination will inspire. (Fiction. 10-14) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 2008

Already feeling responsible for her father's recent death, 14-year-old Amy takes a babysitting job for wealthy Mrs. Edgerton, and right off the bat she and her three-year-old charge Kendra are kidnapped. Taken to an abandoned cabin by two bumbling, small-time criminals, the girls are offered for ransom, but instead of sending notes, the kidnappers videotape the girls and send DVDs to the parents. However, Amy has the wherewithal to send coded messages in the tapes, and part of readers' enjoyment is watching the filming and seeing if the parents can decode the messages. Kehret uses a third-person voice, allowing readers to follow the well-orchestrated actions of the various characters—kidnappers, hostages, parents, detectives, the nanny and other players who don't even realize they are players. The story is fast-paced, plot-driven and involving, with comic relief provided by the captors' fumbling machinations and little Kendra's behavior. A sure hit for the intended audience. (Thriller. 9-11)Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 2005

Twelve-year-old Josh expected his summer with an elderly relative in Carbon City, Wash. to be utterly boring. However, his aunt turns out to be amusingly eccentric, and a secluded tree house in the woods is a perfect place to read and watch deer. There he encounters the ghost of a one-legged coal miner, Willy Martin. Willie asks him to dig up his lost leg and bury it with the rest of his body. Surprisingly, Josh agrees, but he finds more than just leg bones; the man who stole the money the town had raised for an animal shelter had hidden it in the leg's uncared-for grave. Josh's first-person narrative literally opens with a bang, as Aunt Ethel shoots a bat in her kitchen his first night there. The action moves quickly to the suspenseful moment when the robber, seeking to retrieve his treasure, threatens Josh at gunpoint. A subplot involving taming an abandoned cat may add interest for animal lovers. Easy to booktalk, this is a solidly plotted ghost story for middle-grade readers. (Fiction. 9-12)Read full book review >
ABDUCTION! by Peg Kehret
Released: Nov. 1, 2004

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)Read full book review >
SPY CAT by Peg Kehret
Released: Feb. 1, 2003

As in a previous outing (The Stranger Next Door, 2001), "co-written" with this collaborator—her own pet—Kehret delivers an exciting, suspenseful thriller that satisfies on several levels, thanks in no small part to the inherent literary talent of said feline and the juicy role in which he cast himself in the drama. Pete's not only a distinguished author, but as a key player he's a spy of rare talent whose actions and "words" are rendered in italics throughout the narrative to distinguish his activities from those of his human coauthor and fictional foils. A rash of robberies has been perpetrated in a small town in which Pete the Character lives with his family. Benjie Kendrill, younger brother of Pete's owner, Alex, imagines himself a master spy and sets out to hunt down clues to the crimes. Exciting events ensue, including the inevitable robbery of the Kendrills' own home and the kidnapping of Benjie after he unwittingly gives himself and his store of knowledge away to the thieves. He's one smart, brave, and resourceful kid, though; along the way he picks up enough clues to nail these burglars to the wall. Pete is the cat's meow as he goes above and beyond to save Benjie and to lead the less-clever humans (who don't understand his "English") to the solution of the crimes and Benjie's successful rescue. Readers will keep turning the pages, though Benjie's harrowing experiences as a captive might frighten very sensitive youngsters. Kehret manages to include in her satisfying story humor, commentary about kindness to animals, and the importance of family and friends. (Fiction. 10-12)Read full book review >
FIVE PAGES A DAY by Peg Kehret
Released: Oct. 1, 2002

"I've never survived an avalanche or been shipwrecked off the coast of Africa or been abducted by a deranged arsonist. I haven't traveled back in time or seen a ghost or been arrested for shoplifting." The prolific Kehret (The Stranger Next Door, p. 415, etc.) has done none of these things, so where does she get her ideas for her fast-paced, well-plotted stories (as school kids ask her all the time)? "I have experienced the emotions that each of these situations creates. I've been afraid. I've been cold, lonely, and angry." The author takes readers through the story of her life and shows how she became a writer and where she gets her ideas. When she was ten, she edited Dog Newspaper, her neighborhood paper. Later, she wrote 25-word contest entries and won a trip to Hawaii from a department store and a new car for her entry on why she likes Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Dinner. Committed to writing five pages per day, she started writing articles and stories for magazines, books for adults such as Refinishing and Restoring Your Piano, and, finally, books for children. When her first children's books were published, she knew she had found her niche and no longer wrote for adults. Like her novels, this memoir is written in spare, lively prose with plenty of interesting details, anecdotes, and insights. Her bouts with polio as a child and post-polio syndrome later portray a person determined to enjoy each day and make the most of her talents. Readers will come to know and like this writer through this engaging, genial account and will want to get those novels they haven't yet read. (Nonfiction. 8-13)Read full book review >
SAVING LILLY by Peg Kehret
Released: Nov. 1, 2001

At first a class trip to the Glitter Tent Circus seems exciting, but as Erin and David complete the research for their project about animal abuse, they realize they must do something to stop the field trip and see if they can make a difference in the life of Lilly, a mistreated elephant. Their teacher, Mrs. Dawson, is determined to take the class to the circus, remembering her childhood fun visiting the big top. She forbids Erin and David from handing out information or circulating their petition, so they devise a plan to hold a sit-in on the day of the trip. Only five students decide to attend, and the brave students who opt to remain in school soon attract the attention of the media and local animal-rights activists. The students learn that Lilly, one of the mistreated elephants at the Glitter Tent Circus is scheduled to be sold to an organization specializing in big game hunting. Mrs. Dawson realizes her error and together the students, teachers, and administrators decide to try and buy Lilly and send her to an elephant sanctuary. Raising the money is going to prove to be a hard task for a class of sixth-graders, but together they make it happen. With only occasional lapses in believability, this story entertains and informs as it highlights the darker side of animal entertainment. (Fiction. 8-12)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2001

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) Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 2000

Twelve-year-old Megan Perk unwittingly becomes involved in a criminal's plan to embezzle money from a construction company and is also the only eyewitness in a serious hit-and-run accident. The chain of events starts when softhearted Megan determines to save a group of feral cats that she discovers in an empty field near her house. Shane Turner is a convicted criminal who is embezzling money from his brother-in-law's construction company. When he spots Megan hanging around the site of the company's next project, he sees his whole plan of stealing even more money and then making a perfect getaway going up in smoke. Shane's scheme requires that the construction project start right away—any busybody do-gooders interested in saving a bunch of worthless wild cats who might delay the start of the building will throw a serious wrench into the plan. As if things weren't getting complicated enough, one day when Megan is feeding the cats, she hears a screech of brakes, horns blaring, and then sees the crash as a car and a minivan plow into each other. The story comes to a suspenseful climax involving a hot-air balloon, Megan's abduction by Shane, followed by a daring escape, which she engineers. Megan's relationship with her little sister is particularly well-handled: Kehret captures the annoyance the older sibling feels towards Kylie, as well as the guilt Megan feels when she knows she's being mean to her sister. There are moments of compassion and empathy when Megan realizes that Kylie is a person with feelings, too. An absorbing and suspenseful novel with a strong female main character. (Fiction. 9-13)Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 1, 1999

Taking a page from Avi's The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (1990), Kehret (I'm Not Who You Think I Am, p. 223, etc.) pens a similar story of a girl who goes to sea. Determined not to be separated from her seriously ill mother, Emma, 12, embarks on a plan that results in the adventure of a lifetime. Sent to live with Aunt Martha and her arrogant son, Odolf, Emma carefully plots her escape. Disguising herself in her cousin's used clothes, she sneaks out while the household slumbers and stows away on what she believes to be a ship carrying her parents from England to the warmer climate of France. Instead, the ship is the evil, ill-fated Black Lightning, under the command of the notorious Captain Beacon. Emma finds herself sharing quarters with a crew of filthy, surly, dangerous men. When a fierce storm swamps the ship, Emma desperately seizes her chance to escape, drifting for several days and nights aboard a hatch cover and finally carried to land somewhere on the coast of Africa. Hungry, thirsty, and alone, Emma faces the daunting prospect of slow starvation, but survives due to a relationship she builds with a band of chimpanzees. This page-turning adventure story shows evidence of solid research and experienced plotting—the pacing is breathless. Kehret paints a starkly realistic portrait, complete with sounds and smells of the difficult and unpleasant life aboard ship. (Fiction. 8-12) Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1999

In an age of missing children, Kehret (The Blizzard Disaster, 1998, etc.) spins an exciting tale about a deranged mother and the child—not hers'she stalks. Ginger has long had the feeling that somebody is watching her; during her 13th birthday party in a restaurant, she sees a strange woman staring at her, who also appears to write down the license plate number when Ginger's family drives away. Questions nag at Ginger but she brushes them off, facing other, more ordinary problems. A meddlesome parent, Mrs. Vaughn, is trying to get Mr. Wren, Ginger's basketball coach, fired; wanting more playing time for her own daughter, Mrs. Vaughn has concocted a list of complaints, claiming that Mr. Wren doesn't teach basic skills. Ginger, an aspiring sports announcer, has videotaped many of the practices and has the evidence to prove Mrs. Vaughn wrong, but is afraid—as is most of the community—of getting on the woman's wrong side. The stalking of Ginger, her near-kidnapping, and her attempt to live honorably by coming forward to save Mr. Wren converge in a dramatic climax. While the story reads like a thriller, the character development and moral dilemmas add depth and substance. (Fiction. 10-12) Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1999

An amiable collection of short anecdotes about unwanted dogs who were dumped at animal shelters by their owners; Kehret (Small Steps, 1996, etc.) tells of eight strays who were subsequently adopted and accomplished great things. Tracker, who "began life unwanted and unloved, as do far too many puppies," went on to become a movie star. Kirby's owner died and snapped and snarled at everyone; he was about to be euthanatized when a shelter worker said softly, "Hey, Kirby. Want to go for a walk?" and the dog's personality changed; he recognized the invitation and forever after was a loving dog. Joey was trained as a "service dog" by her owner, who has multiple sclerosis; Joey performs such tasks as picking up dropped items, opening doors and cupboards, and helping her owner's mobility. The most amazing story dog is Bridgette, who was able to predict, by picking up "subtle shifts in body odor and electromagnetic fields," when someone was going to have a seizure. This allowed her owner to lay down before a seizure. The hoards of dog-lovers out there will not find these incidents astonishing, but vindication, so there's a ready audience to cry over and gasp at the tale behind every dog. (b&w photos, notes) (Nonfiction. 10-14) Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 1998

On November 11, 1940, Janis Huff is reluctant to leave her Minnesota farmhouse for school because she fears that in her absence her father will shoot her beloved old horse, Pansy, who has become blind and can no longer work off the cost of her feed. Janis goes, but school is dismissed early because of a rapidly approaching snowstorm. She sets off for home in what soon becomes a raging blizzard, and ends up hopelessly lost. Meanwhile Mr. Huff has tried to round up his 40 head of cattle—the family's livelihood—but can rescue only 15 before he has to return to the farmhouse, exhausted and nearly frozen. Other rescues efforts ensue; while all this is happening, two kids living in the 1990s decide to use an "Instant Commuter" to travel back through time to that fateful day, hoping for a firsthand report on the blizzard. They land on the Huff farm just as the blizzard reaches its full intensity, and their jaunt becomes a struggle for survival. The time-travel angle is sheer silliness, but Kehret admirably pulls several threads of suspense into a coherent whole; the blizzard becomes a magnificent star in this old-fashioned, surprisingly gripping tale. (Fiction. 8-12) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1997

Looking for a place where he and his cat can stay, a Seattle boy treks to San Francisco in this ingenuous cautionary adventure from Kehret (Small Steps, 1996, etc.). Behind in the rent, and with the car about to be repossessed, Spencer's mother decamps in the middle of the night, finding temporary refuge for herself and Spencer across town, at Aunt May's. She tells them that Spencer's cat, Foxey, has to go; desperate to keep him, Spencer forces him into a box and heads for San Francisco on a stolen bike, hoping to find his father. Kehret has an agenda, but she makes her points indirectly: Spencer experiences more discomfort than danger (although he is robbed by other runaways), and acts in ways he knows are wrong, from theft to hitchhiking. Foxey is far more troublesome than the hazards of the trip, and Spencer's efforts to keep his terrified pet from running off come close to mistreatment. They arrive in San Francisco by chance—retired carpenter, Hank Woodworth, pays Spencer's bus fare and takes Foxey in temporarily. Spencer finds his father, and Hank dies, leaving Spencer a college trust fund and ready cash for his mother. It's a distressingly tidy resolution, but Spencer's impulsive escapade may give readers infatuated with the notion of running away some second thoughts. (Fiction. 10-12) Read full book review >
SMALL STEPS by Peg Kehret
Released: Nov. 1, 1996

From a writer known for her fiction, a moving memoir about a 12-year-old who got polio in 1949 in Austin, Minnesota. Kehret (Earthquake Terror, 1996, etc.) describes the disease, the diagnosis, the severe symptoms, treatments, physical therapy, slow recovery, and return home with walking sticks—and how she was forever changed. After her fever broke and she lay paralyzed in the hospital, her parents delivered a big brown packet of letters from her classmates. ``I had a strange feeling that I was reading about a different lifetime . . . none of this mattered. I had faced death. I had lived with excruciating pain and with loneliness and uncertainty about the future. Bad haircuts and lost ball games would never bother me again.'' There are touching black-and-white photographs of her roommates, who had already been there for ten years. Kehret's were the only parents who visited her each Sunday, and soon ``adopted'' her fellow polio victims. A simple, direct, and sometimes self-deprecating style of writing tenderly draws readers into Kehret's experiences and the effects of the disease firsthand. Almost a half-century later, this lovely book refocuses attention on what matters most: health, love of family, friends, determination, generosity, and compassion. (Nonfiction. 8-13) Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 1996

Kehret (Danger at the Fair, p. 226, etc.) provides pulse- pounding suspense from beginning to end of an action novel that few readers will be able to put down. While Jonathan and his family are camping on an uninhabited island, Jonathan's mother breaks her ankle. His father takes her to a mainland hospital, leaving behind Jonathan, his handicapped sister, Abby, and their dog. Soon afterward an earthquake strikes, destroying their camper and the bridge to the mainland. With no way of knowing if his parents are alive or able to send help, and as the water rises to cover the island, Jonathan must find a way to keep his sister and himself alive. Although he is brave and resourceful, the earthquake is only the beginning of the trials and terrors that rapidly mount beyond even an adult's ability to cope. Abby's whining is too grating for her to be likable, and Jonathan is almost incredibly empathetic, but the rapid rush of events will involve even less-practiced readers. (Fiction. 10+) Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 1995

Ellen Streater is at the county fair with her friend Caitlin when she sees a fortune teller's trailer and decides to find what the future has in store. The Great Sybil puts Ellen in a trance whereby her hand begins to write of its own accord, in a style that is not her own. What is written is a warning about a ``little one'' in danger, and Ellen suspects that the reference may be to her younger brother, Corey. She discovers that he is trying to catch a thief, a man who will kill Corey and if necessary, Ellen, in order to avoid arrest. But this plucky young heroine has her priorities straight. The result? Kehret (The Richest Kids in Town, 1994, etc.) has created another page-turning adventure. (Fiction. 10+) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1994

Peter Dodge III is terribly lonely when he and his family move to a new town and he can't seem to make any friends. His one goal is to earn $235 for air fare so that he can go back and visit his best friend, Tommy, over the summer. Peter has a whole notebook full of money-making schemes, and he recruits Wishbone Wyoming—also a Third—to help him implement them. Wishbone is game, and the two young entrepreneurs try everything from an alternative health club to a rubber-duck race in a local stream. All the ideas are ingenious. The only problem is that Peter and Wishbone don't make any money. (Maybe if they had written the contestant numbers on the rubber ducks with waterproof markers, or the address of their club on the flyers....) Eventually Peter realizes that he doesn't care anymore whether or not he earns the $235 because he is having so much fun just trying. Visiting Tommy doesn't seem as important, either, since Peter would rather stay home and spend the summer with his new best friend, Wishbone. Clever antics in this fun book from the author of Horror at the Haunted House (1992). (Fiction. 9+) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1992

A small, sturdy ghost-story featuring characters introduced in Terror at the Zoo (1992). Ellen and motormouth little brother Corey volunteer to appear in staged dramas of historic executions and deaths as part of a Halloween haunted-house fund-raiser in aid of turning an old mansion into a museum. Ellen, cast as Joan of Arc and burned nightly at the stake, develops a fondness for a valuable collection of Wedgewood acquired by Lydia, a long-dead inhabitant of the home. Lydia appears to warn Ellen that many of the pieces have been artfully counterfeited and switched, while the real ones are headed for England. Ellen catches on—well behind readers—after overhearing a crucial, convenient phone call. Confronting the perpetrator, she nearly goes up in real flames—but then finds a way to put Lydia to rest. Here, Kehret doesn't mess around with complex twists, trusting readers new to the mystery genre to revel in her special effects and in Ellen's personality—thoughtful, careful, genuine. Light, but with many simple, deft touches. (Fiction. 9+) Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 1992

Ellen and Corey have the chance to camp overnight at the Seattle zoo; but what was planned as a special birthday present nearly proves to be the death of them when they come up against an escaped convict who thinks of the zoo as a safe hideout. When their parents' flight is delayed, Ellen (12) and Corey (8) are afraid they'll have to miss the anticipated campout, but they're able to convince the zoo administrator that their parents have just pulled into the parking lot. Anxious to leave (her daughter is giving birth), she lets them stay after-hours, with the result that the children are left unchaperoned overnight. Meanwhile, convict Tony Haymes plans to kidnap a rare baby monkey and use the ransom to flee to Mexico. As the kids are separated at various points—each trying to elude Haymes, find the other, and rescue the monkey—their experience becomes more and more frightening. When they are finally rescued, it's due in part to Ellen's ability to communicate nonverbally with the elephants. For readers who can swallow the supposition that Ellen can command a bull elephant telepathically, the book works pretty well as a suspense novel. Kehret's attention to detail is less than perfect (How does Ellen know that the trail of peanut shells she follows was left by her brother?), but she arranges the children's isolation at the zoo realistically enough, and the plot is scary. Acceptable additional fare. (Fiction. 10-12) Read full book review >
CAGES by Peg Kehret
Released: May 1, 1991

It's bad enough that Kit doesn't make the cast of the school play; when she goes home, her stepfather is drunk again. Later, seeing conceited classmate Marcia at a jewelry store, she impulsively tries to steal a bracelet and is arrested, fined, and sentenced to a period of community service at the local Humane Society. Kit's shame and humiliation increase as she lies to keep the incident secret, even from steadfast friend Tracy; worse, she discovers that her final exam in speech is to be an oral report on shoplifting. Kit's character and her distress are simply drawn but believable. The plot takes several melodramatic turns (a beloved stray is put to sleep just as Kit is arranging its adoption; her mother is suddenly hospitalized; her stepfather goes on another binge and has a serious auto accident) that make the concluding release still more effective: Tracy confesses eloquently to her class and is awarded not only an ``A'' but a coveted scholarship. Kehret pushes her message hard, but in positive ways. (Fiction. 11-14) Read full book review >