Original Publication Date: 1992
Ghostwriter? Yes, Ellen Miles
Mallory gets a short-term job sitting for the Craine family's three young girls while their aunt recovers from a broken leg. From her first visit, she hears a cat meowing, but the Craines don't have a cat. Later, she and the girls find a white cat in their attic, and after that, some old letters that lead them to believe the cat is the ghost of one who lived with the previous owner of the house (there's a hilarious part with Dawn doing "official" tests to see if the cat is a ghost, and Mallory being skeptical of some of the tests). Then the rightful owner of the cat shows up...and looks exactly like the late owner of the house. Ghost or not, cat and man are reunited. The Craines end up getting another cat from a shelter.
Speaking of short-term (and the worst segue ever), Mallory's great-uncle comes to visit the Pikes for a month. It becomes clear pretty quickly that he's not the man her dad remembers: he has short-term memory loss (see?), gets confused easily, is irritable...turns out he's in the early stages of Alzheimer's. My great-aunt has Alzheimer's, and some of what Uncle Joe does in the book ring true. His visit is cut short, and he goes back to the nursing home where he can get better care. The family does learn how to interact with him better, and while Uncle Joe still has his struggles, when the family understands what's happening, they can get on with him pretty well.
Established or continued in this book:
The Girls (and Logan):
Claudia candy: none
Mallory's favorite vegetable is artichoke.
Very brief insight into Mallory, which helps explain why she, at the advanced age of eleven, takes care of her ten-year-old brothers: she wants to grow up so badly she does every grown-up thing she can think of.
Deep, dark secret: even though they're not little kids, Jessi and Mallory still play that they're horses (despite the above). *shifty eyes* I don't know what they're talking about.
Dawn's getting more self-righteous.
There is a slight reference to Mallory's family needing to watch its spending. Possibly a reference to when her dad lost his job?
Jordan Pike doesn't like waffles.
It might just be in this book, but Adam seems the most logical of the three Pike triplets.
Mallory's dad walks her to the Craines' door for her first job. Hooray for parental responsibility!
New clients: the Craine family (three daughters: Margaret, Sophie, and Katie)
SMS: nothing new
PSA time: nothing new
The Pike boys play mudball, which Mallory thinks is gross, because it's so filthy. My brothers played SLUGball. Like baseball, but guess what the balls were made from? Made the gardeners on our street very happy.
This was written before the word "tween" was invented: Mallory doesn't know what call the stage of life she's in.
This is Mallory's one and only mystery. She and Jessi each got just one, because Scholastic didn't want to encourage eleven-year-olds to go solve mysteries (but had no problem with thirteen-year-olds doing the same thing).
Starting 8th grade: 3
Halloweens in 8th grade: 2 (plus one in seventh)
Valentine's Days in 8th grade: 2
Summers after 8th grade: 2
BSC Fights: 6
SMS Staff: 24
Students (other than the BSC): 72; 50 8th graders, 2 7th grader, 10 sixth-graders, nine unspecified
Types of candy in Claudia’s room: 53 (bubble gum, Butterfingers, butterscotch candy, candy hearts, Cheese Doodles, Cheetos, a chocolate bar, chocolate-covered cherries, Chunky bar, cookies, Cracker Jacks, crackers (unspecified and whole wheat), cupcakes, dark-chocolate caramels, Ding-Dongs, Doritos, Fig Newtons, Fritos, fruit pie, gumdrops, Gummi Bears, Heath bars, Hershey's kisses, Ho Hos, jawbreakers, Kit-Kats, licorice, licorice whips, Lifesavers, M&Ms (regular and peanut), Mallomars, marshmallows, Mentos, mini candy bars, Necco wafers, Oreos (Double Stuf), Planter's Peanut bar, popcorn, potato chips, pretzels, pretzel sticks, red hots, Ring Dings, root beer barrels, salt water taffy, Snickers, taco chips, Tootsie Roll Pops, Tootsie Rolls, Triscuits, Twinkies, Yodels)
Crushes: Claudia-8 (Guy, Terry, Austin Bentley, Timothy Carmody, Arthur Feingold, Woody Jefferson, Trevor Sandbourne, Will Yamakawa), Dawn-5 (Travis, Lewis Bruno, Parker Harris, Price Irving, Richie Magnesi), Mary Anne-2 (Alex, Logan Bruno), Stacey-7 (Toby, Kelsey Bauman, Pete Black, Ross Brown, Pierre D'Amboise, Scott Foley, Sam Thomas), Kristy-1 (Bart Taylor), Mallory-1 (Ben Hobart), Jessi-2 (Curtiis Shaller, Quint Walter)