Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief

Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief

4.7 59
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

What Sammy should have done was put the binoculars down and call 911. What she does instead is tighten up the focus on her right eye to get a better look. There's something very familiar about thisSee more details below


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

What Sammy should have done was put the binoculars down and call 911. What she does instead is tighten up the focus on her right eye to get a better look. There's something very familiar about this thief.

But when Sammy eventually spills her story to Officer Borsch, he doesn't believe her. He treats her like some snot-nosed little kid. Well, Sammy's not going to stand for that. She's a snot-nosed seventh grader now, and she knows what she saw. And somehow she's going to prove it.

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.

From the Hardcover Library Binding edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Sammy, an intrepid girl detective, discovers a number of secrets about the hotel across the street from her home. "The solution will likely come as a surprise, and the sleuth delights from start to finish," said PW. Ages 10-13. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Jackie Hechtkopf
Sammy lives with her grandmother in a seniors only building. That means she sleeps on the couch and all her things must stay tucked away in one bottom drawer. It also means she has to sneak in and out of the building to avoid a nosy neighbor. Sammy doesn't let these inconveniences stop her. Nothing stops Sammy Keyes. She lives an action-packed life of excitement she either finds or creates. In this mystery series debut, Sammy witnesses a robbery while spying with binoculars. Realizing that the thief looks oddly familiar, she waves, and the chase begins. The fast-paced mystery and its resolution are peppered with funny interactions with friends, suspects, and an ongoing conflict with a girl named Heather. Sammy's snappy voice is distinctive throughout. This quick-witted girl has an assertive personality kids will love but teachers may question. Sammy is so feisty, she thinks hitting another girl in the nose is a stupid reason to be suspended. At the end of the book, she engineers a public humiliation of her enemy and the vice-principal that is so complete, other students congratulate her for punching Heather out. A fun book for individual pleasure but not a classroom reader.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-In this recording of the first Sammy Keyes mystery by Wendelin Van Draanen (Knopf, 1998), actress Tara Sands brings the irrepressible Sammy to life. She gets the phrasing and timing just right, and manages to sound like a 13-year-old girl without overdoing it. She conveys the other characters' voices well, too, especially the flamboyant Gina, a.k.a. "Madame Nashira," victim of the hotel burglary Sammy witnesses in the first chapter. Sammy careens from one adventure to another--getting suspended from school on the first day of seventh grade, nearly getting her grandmother kicked out of a seniors-only apartment building, and sneaking onto the roof of the mall--all the while pursuing clues to the identity of the hotel thief. Fans of the series will enjoy this recording, and it is likely to create new fans as well.-Sarah Flowers, Santa Clara County Library, Morgan Hill, CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Horn Book Magazine
Samantha Keyes is one tough, smart, resourceful seventh grader-capable of holding her own against Mrs. Graybill, her nosy, suspicious neighbor (Sammy lives, surreptitiously, with her grandmother in a seniors-only complex); her nasty nemesis-classmate, Heather Acosta; the condescending policeman who heads the investigation into the theft Sammy witnesses; and, of course, the thief himself. Sammy is also pretty impetuous (there's a lot of "what I should have done was...but..."), which Van Draanen makes clear from the opening scene: as Sammy trains her Gram's binoculars on the burglary-in-progress at the hotel across the street, the thief looks up and sees her through the window; rather than call the police, Sammy waves. Events snowball from there as Sammy bests horrible Heather by uncovering the scam she is trying to pull at Sammy's expense, and deduces (through Van Draanen's clever and uncondescending clues) the surprising identity of the thief -- all while trying to avoid getting caught by Mrs. Graybill, suspended from school, or yelled at by Gram. Sammy, with her self-reliant personality and breezy first-person narration, is clearly the literary by-product of the better sort of fast-food adult mysteries such as Sue Grafton's . . .series, and Van Draanen has captured the adult-mystery knack of making the investigator's character and private life at least as interesting and complex as the plot. This may be light fare, but it's the kind you want to gobble up quickly-and in quantities.
Kirkus Reviews
Van Draanen (How I Survived Being a Girl, 1997) debuts a live-wire young sleuth in this nonstop whodunit. The day before starting seventh grade, Samantha peers through her grandmother's binoculars and spots the latest in a rash of burglaries. The burglar spots her right back, setting in motion a headlong chain of events that, over the next few days, takes Sammy and her rich but loyal friend Marissa from back alleys to the roof of the local mall in an effort to finger the crook while escaping his clutches. Meanwhile, Sammy also has to cope with a hostile police officer, a new school, malicious classmate Heather, and in the seniors-only high-rise where she lives with Grams while her own mother pursues a Hollywood career, a suspicious neighbor. Heather's villainy and subsequent public humiliation may be overdone, but Van Draanen expertly keeps all the subplots at a rolling boil while strewing the tale with red herrings, suspects, and clever clues. Children will admire Sammy's inadvertent genius for ruffling feathers as much as they'll like her sharp powers of observation and deduction; she is a tough new gumshoe with another caper scheduled for fall.

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Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sammy Keyes Series
Sold by:
Random House
Sales rank:
840L (what's this?)
File size:
250 KB
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

What People are saying about this

Sue Grafton
If Kinsey Millhone ever hires a junior partner, Sammy Keyes will be the first candidate on the list. She's feisty, fearless, and funny. A top-notch investigator!
Margaret Maron
A winning debut! This girl sleuth is no well-mannered Nancy Drew. She's endearingly hot-tempered, nosy, and not always obedient -- in short, she's someone I want to read about again.
Joan Lowery. Nixon
A great story with plenty of shivers and suspense. Make friends with Samantha Keyes.

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