Feisty seventh grader Sammy Keyes is sleuthing againthis time solving a crime in the art world. At a local art gallery reception that she attends with her grandmother and their 72-year-old friend, Hudson, a robber ties to steal one of the artist's paintings. Realizing the robber is armed only with a water pistol, Sammy comes to the rescue. The would-be robber escapes, but when the artist does not want the police to investigate, Sammyand her Gramsbecome suspicious. Hudson's interest in the artist whose work was the robber's target only upsets Grams and further motivates her and Sammy to uncover the truth. In addition to the mystery, Sammy wrestles with her school relationships, including with nemesis Heather and Heather's older brother, Casey, the boy Sammy likes, and seeks to understand the meaning of art and friendship. Sammy is a delightful character, full of sass and energy and unafraid to speak her mind, whether to a rude artist or her best friend, Marissa. The complicated mystery plot keeps readers guessing and the ending satisfies on multiple levels. Another book in the series, Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief, won the Edgar Allan Poe award for best children's mystery fiction. 2005 (orig. 2003), Dell Yearling/Random House, Ages 10 up.
Valerie O. Patterson
To quote from the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, March 2003: This is the eighth book about Sammy Keyes, the middle-school sleuth who lives with her grandmother while her mother pursues a film career in Hollywood. For an art project, Sammy goes to an art gallery to try to understand what art is, accompanied by her grandmother and 72-year-old Hudson. A relationship seems to be forming between Grams and Hudson, but then Hudson develops a crush on one of the artists featured in the exhibit, making Grams furious. It is this artist who becomes the focus of the mystery of the book. How can such a selfish, small-minded person be capable of producing such wonderful paintings? Meanwhile, Sammy's social life at school is changing. The menace Heather still makes Sammy's life miserable, but Heather's brother Dan seems especially interested in Sammyand this is confusing. There is a Renaissance Faire, and a play. Throughout, the story offers what we expect from a Sammy Keyes mystery: smart young people who are independent thinkers. Grams' character is developed more thoroughly in this story, and we can see where Sammy gets some of her strength and intelligence. The thorough discussion of what makes art meaningful is quite an achievement. KLIATT Codes: JRecommended for junior high school students. 2003, Random House, Dell Yearling, 272p., Ages 12 to 15.
Irrepressible, spunky heroine Sammy is back solving the mystery of an art gallery theft in this eighth title of the Sammy Keyes series. Sammy's school assignment is to interview a professional artist and learn what art is about. She attends an art gallery premier with her grandmother and older friend, Hudson, but the event is interrupted when a bandit attempts to steal local artist Diane's paintings from the wall. Sammy foils the robbery and then pairs up with her grandmother to discover why the thief would want only this particular artist's work. They discover that the art world is full of petty, competitive people and that Diane might not be as blameless as first believed. Their investigation is further complicated by other characters who have hidden motives. Propelled by numerous plot twists, sneaky characters, and intrigue, this story does not have as much adventure and daring as other series titles. The danger does not seem convincing, and the potential villains do not appear wicked. More an insightful study in character, this installment features the gutsy Sammy relentlessly investigating, analyzing, and using the little information she has discovered to successfully solve the mystery. The middle school subplot of cat fighting between Sammy and her nemesis, Heather, and Sammy's crush on Casey provide a realistic backdrop and will involve readers. Sammy is still a funny, smart, and independent character who will keep readers cheering and waiting for her next adventure. VOYA CODES: 3Q 3P M (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2003, Knopf, 272p,
Gr 5-8-Wendelin Van Draanen's eighth title in the Sammy Keyes series (Knopf/Borzoi, 2003) finds the middle-school detective solving the mystery of an art gallery theft. Sammy is attending a gallery event with her grandmother and elderly friend, Hudson, when she foils an attempted robbery. She finds an unlikely ally in her grandmother, who is more fully developed in this story. Grams and Hudson seem to be developing a relationship until Hudson becomes mesmerized by the victimized artist. Although she is distracted by bother her grandmother's love life and her own, Sammy eventually unravels the mystery. She discovers that the art world is not unlike junior high school with its own share of intrigue, backstabbing, and confusion. Tara Sands does an excellent job of narrating the story, infusing Sammy with just enough attitude for a seventh grader. Mystery fans will enjoy the plot and interesting cast of characters.-Katherine Devine, Westminster Academy, Elizabeth, NJ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Shenanigans take a back seat to affairs of the heart in this teenaged Sherlock's eighth outing. Assigned to find and analyze "art" at either a local gallery or an upcoming Renaissance Faire, Sammy tries both, and stumbles into a tangle of vicious intrigue, inflated egos, hidden motives, and general bad behavior-not unlike junior high school, where Sammy continues to be whipsawed by encounters with archenemy Heather Acosta and her friendly, disturbingly attractive brother Casey. Having foiled an attempted robbery at the gallery that looks more and more like a setup, Sammy smells something fishy-and finds an unlikely ally in her grandma, with whom she lives illegally in a seniors-only apartment, and whose budding romance with Sammy's septuagenarian confidante Hudson seems headed for the rocks after a charming artist turns his head. Despite robberies, shocking revelations, mysterious strangers, and pumped-up language ("Anyhow, I blasted over to art class, and the minute I blew through the door . . . "), Sammy's preoccupation with Gram's love life and getting her own feelings for Casey in order, along with ruminations about good art vs. bad, orient this episode more toward character and personal issues than its suspenseful, danger-laden precursors. Still, thoughtful readers will understand from Sammy's anguish, when she sees a work of art that had moved her profoundly destroyed by its larcenous owner, that there are moral felonies at least as wicked as the more conventional legal kind. (Fiction. 11-15)
Praise for the Sammy Keyes series:
“Van Draanen offers such an explosive combination of high-stakes sleuthing, hilarity, and breathlessly paced action that it’s impossible to turn the pages fast enough.” —Kirkus Reviews
“There’s no stopping Sammy.”—Publishers Weekly
“An intelligent, gutsy, flawed, and utterly likable heroine.”—Booklist
"Move over, Nancy Drew—a new sleuth is on the scene.”—Girls’ Life
"Think a combination of Carl Hiaasen’s Flush and Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books and you’ll be right on target.” —School Library Journal
“A high-quality, high-amp mystery series.” —The Horn Book
“This funny, clever series is NOT for kids only. I challenge the most seasoned mystery reader to guess ‘who done it.’” —Cozies, Capers, and Crimes
“Sammy Keyes comes armed with attitude.” —Orlando Sentinel
“Sammy doesn’t find mysteries to solve—they find her.” —Arizona Republic
“Humor, romance and adventure; this story is an absolute blast.” —Chicago Tribune
“If you haven’t met Sammy Keyes yet, now is the time.” —Children’s Literature