Mark Louis Baumgart
Mallory Pike is eleven-years-old, and she's a member of the Babysitters Club and she's got a new client, and it's the Craine family and it's three small girls. As she babysits the girls she hears mysterious meowing sounds, and with the three girls help she tracks down the origin of the sounds, and it turns out to be a real cat!
But this storyline is not enough for this Baby-Sitters novel, as Ann M. Martin gives the reader a two-storyline novel, and the second storyline has to do with Mallory's Dad's brother, her Uncle Joe. Because, as Mallory is trying to solve the ghost cat mystery, she and her eight other siblings will learn that her father's fabled brother is coming for a visit that will last a full month, and the Pike family is predictably excited.
Unfortunately, the Uncle Joe that that visits is a far cry from the Uncle Joe that the Pike family has been hearing about. This Uncle Joe turns out to be a total disappointment, as he turns out to be a humorless, obsessive-compulsive, and tiresome old man, and Mallory begins to wonder just how she and her family will take a whole month of this Uncle Joe.
Then by accident, while babysitting the Craine girls, Mallory
finds a box of letters in the attic in which the letter writer describes finding, taking care of, then losing, a white cat very similar to the cat which has been found in the Craine attic. Meanwhile Mallory is still hearing stray cat sounds in the Craine household, and in places where the new Craine cat isn't.
While I liked huge chunks of this novel, and I probably would have liked them even more were I the same age as this novel's target audience, there were also things that I didn't like. I liked that Martin evidently thought enough of her audience that she felt that they could handle two separate and non-connected storylines, one of which deals with the possible supernatural, and the other with a family dealing with a family member's Alzheimer's. And it was how that this novel addresses early onset Alzheimer's that surprised me, because Uncle Joe never comes across as a daffy jokefest, a cartoon, or as a cheap punchline, as some more "adult" novels have done. Good work here.
What I didn't like was that there was this novel just had too much filler. There is one whole chapter, for instance, that only exists as a set-up for the next Baby-Sitters Club Mystery novel, and which serves no real purpose being in this mystery.
Another thing that I didn't get was the Pike household. There are nine children, and for me, the whole household seems to be too chaotic and anarchic to be believable.
Then there are the first twenty pages, which only seem to exist as a directory to the whole Baby-Sitters Club members and their family, including a ton of characters that will never appear in "Mallory And The Ghost Cat". If I wasn't so obsessive-compulsive myself then I probably never would have gotten through this twenty-page listing, and this infodump would have stopped me from completing this novel right there. The more important part of this listing could have been integrated throughout Martin's novel, causing us to not have to wade through such an unwieldly infodump. If I were the target audience, and believe me, I'm not, I would have just sped-read through it, but being me, I had to just slog through it.
And the whole idea of the Ghost Cat? It's never really explained. Was there a ghost cat or not?
Still most tweener fans of this series will probably love "Mallory And The Ghost Cat" much more than I ever will, as it blends elements of both the Baby-Sitters Club and the Goosebumps series, although I'm giving it three stars for the Uncle Joe storyline.
For this site I have also reviewed these other novels of interest:
The Case of the Somerville Secret by Robert Newman.
The Ghost of Windy Hill by Clyde Robert Bulla.
Ghost Train by Lyle Harper.
Gray Ghosts of Taylor Ridge by Mary Francis Shura.
Mystery Of Mordach Castle by William MacKellar.
Mystery of the Blue-Gowned Ghost by Linda Wirkner.
Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End (Pirates Of The Caribbean) by T. T. Sutherland.
Silly mysteries by John Peterson.
Skull Island (Usborne Adventure) by Lesley Sims.
A Ufo Has Landed by Milton Dank & Gloria Dank.