GHOST CATS by Susan Shreve


Age Range: 10 - 12
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Rich in cats and ill of temper, this sketchy tale from Shreve (Jonah, The Whale, 1998, etc.) is narrated by a sixth grader who is not taking a change in family life well. It’s an unusual sort of change: after more than a decade of moving from country to country, Peter’s family has settled at last in a Boston townhouse, and he doesn’t like the prospects of going to the same school for years, seeing his mother absorbed in law school studies, or watching his younger siblings exchange their old closeness for outside friendships. In flashbacks and snatches of dialogue, Peter angrily introduces each member of his household, including the six cats, as he recounts domestic tempests and incidents, family ties and rituals, plus an ambiguous subplot in which three cats die or disappear, then show up again in the final scene as ghosts. With parents who know when to pay attention and when to back off, Peter adjusts by school year’s end, but the story is rescued from outright conventionality only by Peter’s uncommon yen for the peripatetic life. Amy Goldman Koss’s Ashwater Experiment (p. 723 ) is a livelier take on a similar theme, and Shreve’s supernatural climax, despite the title, drops into the story like a stone. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-590-37131-2
Page count: 128pp
Publisher: Levine/Scholastic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1999