Sammy Keyes and the Dead Giveaway

Sammy Keyes and the Dead Giveaway

4.6 50
by Wendelin Van Draanen

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"The most winning junior detective ever in teen lit. (Take that, Nancy Drew!)" —Midwest Children's Book Review

The bad news: Sammy's made a deadly mistake.
The good news: No one knows she did it.
The delicious dilemma: Everyone thinks her archenemy Heather is to blame.
Now Heather is in a major jam,


"The most winning junior detective ever in teen lit. (Take that, Nancy Drew!)" —Midwest Children's Book Review

The bad news: Sammy's made a deadly mistake.
The good news: No one knows she did it.
The delicious dilemma: Everyone thinks her archenemy Heather is to blame.
Now Heather is in a major jam, and in some ways it's only fair—Heather has pinned more than a few crimes on Sammy. Besides, there are distractions galore to keep Sammy from confessing. Like the end of the school year. And the Farewell Dance. Especially the dance, since she's going with Heather's (dreamy) brother Casey. But Sammy knows the truth has an uncanny way of resurfacing, and when it does, the stench can be more vile than the junior high cafeteria.

The Sammy Keyes mysteries are fast-paced, funny, thoroughly modern, and true whodunits. Each mystery is exciting and dramatic, but it's the drama in Sammy's personal life that keeps readers coming back to see what happens next with her love interest Casey, her soap-star mother, and her mysterious father.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Middle-grade readers will relish the gory, scary details of caring for big cats. . . . Solid book bait."—Kirkus Reviews

"This fast-moving read offers suspense, adventure, and a sympathetic protagonist."—Booklist

Samantha "Sammy" Keyes has a major problem. She made a deadly mistake, but no one knows she did it. Theoretically, she would like to confess, but that would exonerate the chief suspect, who happens to be Sammy's archnemesis, seventh-grade villain Heather. With the end of the school year approaching, our favorite junior high sleuth finds it easier to contemplate the Farewell Dance than fessing up. A nifty addition to Wendelin Van Draanen's adventure/mystery series.
Children's Literature
Sammy is always getting into trouble at school, thanks to her class enemy, Heather Acosta. When Sammy accidentally kills her teacher's pet lovebird at school, she sneaks into her homeroom closet and discovers Heather performing a treacherous deed of her own. Heather is stealing ballots for the seventh grade awards so she can write in her own name and be this year's winner. Sammy wants to tell her teacher, but she will also have to confess to her own misdeed. Right now the teacher thinks Heather is guilty of killing the bird, and that is sweet revenge for Sammy. Sammy's grandmother, with whom she lives, tries to teach her to do good deeds as a Christian. So Sammy walks Mrs. Willawago's dog, Captain Patch, because her neighbor has had foot surgery. However, the big mutt loves to dig holes in Mrs. Willawago's neighbors' yards. Sammy's dog walk ends up involving more than just holes in the ground when she uncovers a conspiracy by a city councilwoman to sell abandoned property to the city for the building of a recreation center. Thanks to her efforts, though, all lies are revealed in the end and Sammy's first date with a boy is more fun than she ever dreamed possible. 2005, Alfred A. Knopf/Random House Children's Books, Ages 11 to 15.
—Debbie West
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-Irrepressible Sammy Keyes, girl detective, returns to charm young mystery fans in the tenth book (Knopf, 2005) in the series by Wendelin Van Draanen. Sammy, who is completing seventh grade, is horrified when a teacher's beloved bird dies. Although Sammy is responsible, the teacher blames her rival, Heather. Sammy sees Heather steal ballots for the Class Personalities election, so she allows Heather to take the fall-for awhile anyway. Everyone at school is chattering about the school dance and Sammy is dismayed when Casey, Heather's brother, invites her to go with a group of friends as a "non-date" date. Along the way, Sammy gets distracted by a problem concerning urban renewal and begins snooping. Narrator Tara Sands' youthful voice is just right for the young characters in the story. A great listen for youngsters who are ready to move beyond Nancy Drew.-Tricia Melgaard, Centennial Middle School, Broken Arrow, OK Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sammy Keyes Series
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.13(w) x 7.63(h) x 0.71(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt


It's funny how you can think you know someone pretty well, and then something happens or they do something that makes you understand that you didn't really know them at all.

My homeroom teacher, Mrs. Ambler, is that way. I always figured she was just another long-suffering adult who was sick to death of dealing with junior high school kids. I also always thought that she was at least fifty. Probably well on her way to sixty. You know, old.

Then one day she came into homeroom with two lovebirds. I'm talking the feathered variety, not the gross pimply kind you see swapping spit behind the locker rooms.

Anyhow, these birds would've looked perfect on the shoulder of a midget pirate. They had orange faces,
green bodies, a little splay of bright blue tail feathers, and I thought for sure they were baby parrots.

But when Mrs. Ambler parked the white domed cage on her desk and Tawnee Francisco asked, "Are they cockatiels?" Mrs. Ambler smiled at her and said, "No, they're lovebirds."

Now, this may seem like a perfectly normal exchange to you, but (a) I didn't even know there was actually such a thing as a lovebird, and (b) Mrs. Ambler's voice when she said "lovebirds" was all soft and sweet and...feathery.

Then I noticed her face. It was all soft. And sweet. And...well, not feathery, more glowy.

It was not the Mrs. Ambler I was used to seeing, that's for sure. I glanced at my best friend, Marissa
McKenze, who sits way up front in the corner, and she was sort of blinking at Mrs. Ambler, too.

Then Heather Acosta pipes up with, "Lovebirds, Mrs. Ambler? How adorable."

I rolled my eyes and Marissa did the same, because ever since end-of-the-year elections for Class
Personalities started drawing near, Heather's been on the world's most revolting kiss-up campaign.

The whole idea of Class Personalities is stupid to begin with. It may be a "tradition" at William Rose Junior
High School, but what it really is, is an overblown popularity contest. But since popularity is the pulse that drives Heather's blood, I guess that explains why she's dying to win something. Anything. You should see the way she's been circulating through campus lately, oozing a diabolically contagious form of congeniality. She's nice. She's sweet. She's helpful. She's concerned. And she's all that with such true-
blue sincerity it's frightening.

Unfortunately for her, after nearly a full school year of her schemes and lies, I think that most people are smart enough to be suspicious, except for one thing—Heather's also been acting contrite. You know—she's just so, so sorry for her part in any trouble this year. I've heard her tell teachers, "I know I made mistakes, but I've learned so much!" and "You know, I'm just so grateful for the experiences—I feel I've really grown as a human being!"

That's the kiss-up game she's been playing with other people, anyway. To me she's been whispering,
"Count 'em and weep, loser."

Please. Like I care if she wins some stupid popularity contest?

She's not just after Friendliest Seventh Grader, either. Oh no. She's hedging her bets by going for Most
Unique Style, too. One day she comes to school looking like a punk princess in black and chains and ratted red hair; the next she's all decked out like an old-time movie star, wearing satin shoes and a matching handbag, her hair all smoothed back.

It's so transparent it's pathetic.

But anyway, the minute Heather finds out that Mrs. Ambler's birds are lovebirds, she kicks into total kiss-
up mode. "Oh, how adorable," she gushes. Then she asks Mrs. Ambler, "Were they a gift from your husband?" like that would just have been the sweetest, dearest thing a man could do for his wife.

Well, Marissa and I may be able to see right through Heather, but not Mrs. Ambler. She goes from, like,
forty watts of glow to about seventy-five and gives Heather the brightest smile. "How did you know?"
Then she nuzzles her nose at the cage and says, "He gave them to me for our anniversary."

"How romantic," Heather sighs. "How long have you been married?"

Mrs. Ambler smiles at her again. "Fifteen years today."

"Fifteen years? Wow! And he buys you lovebirds? He must be terrific." Then she asks, "So how'd you meet?"

Mrs. Ambler keeps on letting herself be suckered. "In graduate school," she tells Heather. "We got married shortly after I got my master's degree."

Whoa now! A master's? A master's in what? Honestly, all I've ever seen Mrs. Ambler do is take roll and read the announcements and reprimand kids when they get out of line. I know she's in charge of the yearbook and has some class with special-ed kids. Oh, and she teaches eighth graders how to study or get focused on their goals or...I don't know what. But nothing that would seem to take a master's degree.

So while I'm busy trying to digest that, I'm also chewing on the math involved in this new Ambler
Information. I mean, let's say you're twenty-two when you graduate from college. A master's is what?
Two more years of college? So even if you tack an extra year on for good measure, Mrs. Ambler would have been at most twenty-five when she got married. And if she'd been married for fifteen years, that meant that this fifty-, well-on-her-way-to-sixty-year-old woman that I'd seen nearly every day for the whole school year was only...thirty-nine or forty?

I was stunned. I mean, forty is plenty old, but not nearly as old as I'd thought she was. And she was probably also a lot smarter than I'd given her credit for. Plus, at that moment she wasn't just my boring,
worn-out homeroom teacher, she was a woman who was embarrassingly in love with her husband.

"I hope I find a man like him someday," Heather was saying.

Meet the Author

Wendelin Van Draanen has been everything from a forklift driver to a high school teacher, but is now enjoying life as a full-time writer. The author lives in central California.

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Sammy Keyes and the Dead Giveaway 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 49 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought it was good but when it was over I was so excited for summer but then I remembered it was March.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought that this was a great book. Maybe not the best in the series but still just as great. I love how Wendelin writes her books. When I got started today I just couldnt stop. Please Wendelin write more Sammy Keyes books. And there is a kiss instore for Sammy I just know it. Oh my so GOOD.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was really good. The problem was that the reason I got it was because I wanted a good mystery and there really was not any in this story. It was regular fiction. It was still well written and age appropriate. Ive read better.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This series just keeps getting better and better! I love this one especially. I loved every page, and it was torture to stop. Everyone should read this one!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! I really thought Casey was going to kiss Sammy on the lips! I will be very disappointed if the rest of the Sammy Keyes books aren't published soon! Casey and Sammy still have a kiss waiting for them. I have to adnit that there was less actoin in this book.I loved the dance scene!
Guest More than 1 year ago
oh my god, I read this book like crazy. I totally could not put it down. If Wendelin van Draanen doesn't write more Sammy Keyes books, I will be so depressed. DEFINETLY read this if you like Sammy Keyes. If you haven't read any before, then start with the Hotel Thief.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I give this book five stars, like all the other Sammy Keyes books, but has the series turned from mystery to sappy love story? There seemed like very little action in the book with the exception of Sammy obsessing over Casey asking her out.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read all of the Sammy Keyes books(i've read them like a million times) and I just love them! I love Sammy's humorous and spunky personality! I like this book as well, and totally recommend it! Keep writing more!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really loved this book. It was so good!! You'll never want to put this book down if you read this book. I loved the Dance scene with Casey, Marissa, and Danny. This book was AWESOME!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love all the Sammy Keyes books! They are written so well that you never want to put them down!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was really really good--I liked the whole thing with Casey and Marissa and Danny. The big thing that Sammy did wasnt as bad as i thought it was--but i was really shocked at the end. Overall very good.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Another awesome book in the Sammy Keyes series.Wendelin Van Draanen once again knocks our socks off.Sammy Keyes and the Dead Giveaway rocks with an awesome story line and a main character with 'spunk'!Can't wait for the next book!Highly reccomend!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book! Fans of mystery and middle school humor will falin love with Sammy!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very entertaining kept me on the seat of my chair the whole time and i finished in two days because i couldnt stop reading! Definetly reccomend it! :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a fun read and it keeps you guessing all the way through! I recommend this book to anyone who likes a funny mystery!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is great! Full of twists and heather is evil wich makes u want to read more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great for all ages! Sammy always does the right thing at the end, well in this case its in the middle of the book but still. And she solves the real mystery and goes to the school dance-with the adorable casey-and has a good time all in one night! And of course only Sammy Keyes can do all that !;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Greatest auther eva
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is like ok but i like sammy keyes series yall should read it sometimes
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