Children's Literature - Jean Boreen
This latest installment in the "Sammy Keyes" mystery series finds Sammy thinking that she caused a man to have a heart attack when she suddenly appeared on the landing at the Senior Highrise home for the elderly. Responding to the man's dying wish to "make the money go away," Sammy surprises herself by spending some of it on herself and others. But the odd, uncomfortable feeling she has about the money pushes her to find out more about the dead man and the mysterious funds. In typical Sammy fashion, she finds herself using disguises and her creativity to crack the case. Along the way, she is aided by her grandmother, as well as her many friends. Sammy also has to deal with the economic and emotional breakdown within her best friend Marissa's family and its impact on Marissa and her brother, Mikey. In addition, Sammy's crush on Casey goes public, and then meets potential disaster after she finds out that her mother is actually dating Casey's dad. The combination of humor and tension that elementary and middle school readers have come to expect from Sammy are all on hand. This is another solid addition to the series. Reviewer: Jean Boreen, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Sammy Keyes is back, living her second 13th summer because her mother lied on her birth certificate to get her into school early. After two years of sneaking up and down the fire escape at the seniors-only residence where she lives with her grandmother, one would suppose that Sammy would not meet misadventure on her unique entrance to her home. But that's what happens when she assumes she has scared an elderly man to death after he has her toss three bundles of money into the bushes below. That event provides the mystery, and Sammy is off sleuthing again. The money is both trouble and a temptation as she retrieves it, keeps it secret, and spends it at the mall, buying her friend Marissa a bathing suit and giving some to Gram. Sammy is a whirlwind of activity, and the pacing is uneven as she spies on her friends from previous books, spies on elderly suspects, purchases a camera for sleuthing purposes, and gets a disguise. All of her old friends and enemies are back, and her budding romance with Casey Acosta continues. Van Draanen again deals with social issues with wit as Sammy charges through another mystery and walks a narrow line between opportunism and honesty.-Kathryn Kosiorek, formerly at Cuyahoga County Public Library, Brooklyn, OH
From the Publisher
Praise for Sammy Keyes:
“Wendelin Van Draanen’s superior middle grade mystery series continues to thrive, thanks to sizzling wit, true dialogue, and the most winning jr. detective ever in teen lit. (Take that, Nancy Drew!)”
—Midwest Children’s Book Review
Starred Review, Booklist, October 1, 2008:
"An exceptionally good entry in an already remarkable series."
Read an Excerpt
Holly Janquell is one of my best friends, and she happens to live right across Broadway from the Senior Highrise in an apartment above the Pup Parlor. I love going over to the Pup Parlor. You never know what crazy canine creation you'll find getting groomed there.
As far as the Pup Parlor humans go, you can expect to find either Meg or Vera, or both. Meg is Vera's daughter, and they were both friends of mine way before they adopted Holly. Grams describes them as "salt of the earth," but I don't really get that expression. I just know that they're hardworking and kind and trustworthy. They put it together about me living with Grams back when the only other person who knew was my friend Marissa. They never made a peep about it, either. They just minded their own business.
When I first met her, I thought Vera was, like, ninety. She's got wrinkles galore, she's missing teeth, and she's wiry. Her forearms look like stretched-out, over roasted chicken legs. You know, where all the fat's been burned away and what's left are tendons, shrively muscles, wrinkly skin, and bones.
But I don't think anyone who's ninety could wrestle a bulldog into a bathing tank the way Vera does. It's like seeing an Italian greyhound take down a mastiff. Those wiry arms go into action, and watch out! She'll have a dog tubbed and sudsed before you can get across the shop to offer help.
Meg's taller and stockier than her mom, but they let the world know they're related by the way they do their hair. They both have pouffy poodle dos decorated with little clip-on bows: red, pink, purple, polka-dotted. . . . They seem to have a different pair of bows for every day of the month.
I used to go hang out at the Pup Parlor just to kill time before going home, but now I go there because Holly lives there and it's fun to do homework together or help around the shop.
This time, though, I hadn't just dropped by. And, it being summer and all, I sure wasn't there to do homework.
This time I was there by official invitation.
Holly had called me at home Tuesday morning and said, "Hey! I'm inviting everyone over tonight to see pictures of our trip. Seven-thirty to nine-thirty. Can you come?"
I squinted at the phone. "You've got two hours of pictures?"
"No! It's a party. We're having pizza and salad, and dessert, too." Then she laughed. "But Vera did get a new digital camera before the trip, so expect to be bombarded."
I laughed, and after I cleared it with Grams, I said, "I'll be there!"
Holly also invited Marissa and Dot, so it was a real best friends reunion. "Sammy!" they cried when I entered the apartment. I hadn't seen Dot all summer because she and her family had been in Holland visiting relatives. She sorta blinked at me and said,"You're so tan!"
"Just my arms and face. It's a total backpacker tan."
She bounced up and down a little. "Did you bring pictures of your camping trip? I heard you saw condors!"
I snorted. "And snakes and scorpions and ticks and a dead boar and--"
Her face pinched up. "Eew."
I grinned. "So be glad--no pictures."
Dot shrugged, then looked kinda embarrassed as she said, "I brought some pictures of our trip to Holland." Then real fast, she added, "Meg and Vera said it was fine."
I eyed Marissa and asked, "Did you bring pictures of Las Vegas?" because her family had already taken three trips there this summer. Marissa scowled. "You can't take pictures in Las Vegas. Everything's too . . . big."
The doorbell rang. "Pizza's here!" Meg called from the kitchen. So we all swarmed downstairs, got the pizzas, and pounded back up to the family room, where Vera was setting up a slide show on a laptop computer.
Meg brought in a salad, more drinks, and plates, and we all got comfy on the floor around their oversized coffee table and dug in. Meg usually gives off a pretty serious vibe, but having an apartment full of teenagers seemed to agree with her. She sat back in a recliner with a piece of pepperoni pizza, reclipped one of her royal blue bows, and let out a happy sigh. "Ready, Mother?"
"I believe so," Vera said, then started the slide show.
"Bombarded" doesn't even begin to describe it. We saw pictures of Holly in the motor home, Holly at a meteor crater, Holly in the Painted Desert, Holly at the Grand Canyon, Holly cooking dinner, Holly next to a buffalo, Holly nose to nose with a chipmunk, Holly asleep, Holly waking up, Holly watching a Wild West show, Holly shopping for arrowheads, Holly standing by a pack of Harley-Davidsons, and Holly at Mount Rushmore. Fifty gazillion pictures of Holly at Mount Rushmore.
It might have been a real snooze, only luckily, Vera clicked through the shots fast and Holly had enough funny stories to go with the pictures to keep us entertained.
Plus, it was really good pizza.
From the Trade Paperback edition.