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Sammy Keyes and the Hollywood Mummy

Sammy Keyes and the Hollywood Mummy

4.9 33
by Wendelin Van Draanen

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Sammy heads for Hollywood -- and a head-on collision with her mother! The elusive Lady Lana (a.k.a. Sammy's mom) ran off to Hollywood nearly a year ago to get "discovered." But when Sammy discovers that her mom has changed her name, dyed her hair, and told everyone she's only 25, she decides Lana needs a little reality check. I mean, it's one thing to have her


Sammy heads for Hollywood -- and a head-on collision with her mother! The elusive Lady Lana (a.k.a. Sammy's mom) ran off to Hollywood nearly a year ago to get "discovered." But when Sammy discovers that her mom has changed her name, dyed her hair, and told everyone she's only 25, she decides Lana needs a little reality check. I mean, it's one thing to have her mom ditch her. But it's another to find out she's created a life for herself where Sammy can't possibly exist.

But Hollywood is a shock. Everyone is pretending in this starlet-eat-starlet world. So when a woman is killed in the room next door, Sammy's hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't have a motive...including her mom.

Editorial Reviews

She's feisty, fearless, and funny -- and she's back for her sixth exciting mystery. This time, Sammy Keyes, the savvy seventh-grade sleuth, and her best friend Marissa head to Hollywood to tackle the biggest mystery of Sammy's life -- her mother. Not only is Sammy shocked to learn that she's changed her name, dyed her hair, and created a life for herself where Sammy doesn't even exist, there's also the matter of an unsolved murder -- and Sammy's determined to get to the bottom of it.
This book in the popular series takes Sammy to Hollywood to be with her mother, an aspiring film actress. It feels like a real shift, with Sammy in a whole new place and surrounded by many new characters. The mystery involves murder this time, and Sammy's mother is in a bad position. Readers of the series will be glad to know more about Sammy's mother, and many may welcome the change of pace and more complex plot. Others may miss the old familiar setting. But never fear, at the end, Sammy is heading back home to her grandmother. Category: Paperback Fiction. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2001, Random House, Dell Yearling, 256p.,
— Claire Rosser; KLIATT
Children's Literature
In the sixth book in the "Sammy Keyes Mystery Series," thirteen-year-old Sammy and her friend Marissa hop a Greyhound to Hollywood and begin a search for Sammy's mother who recently moved there to become a star. When the two sleuths find her, they learn that she has changed her name to Dominique Windsor, shaved ten years off her age and transformed herself into a glamorous creature barely recognizable to her daughter. She is living in something akin to a sorority house for movie-star wannabes, run by a domineering man named Max. When a housemate, a rival aspiring actress, is murdered, Sammy's mother becomes the suspect. It is up to Sammy to untangle this web of increasingly disturbing and seedy events. Could her mother be the murderer or the next victim? Sammy, who has the hardened, smart voice of a young girl who has seen more than her share of emotional turmoil, deals with plenty of disturbing themes in the course of this fast-paced read. Abandonment is one theme, of a girl who deserves far better than her mother seems able to give her. Not your average mystery series heroine, Sammy Keyes gives us something to chew on, and something to be thankful for¾substance. 2001, Borzoi Books/Alfred A. Knopf, . Ages 9 to 12. Reviewer: Karen Deans
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7 Fans of the Sammy Keyes mysteries will enjoy Tara Sands' spirited telling of Wendelin van Draanen's melodramatic tale of mystery and abandonment (Random, 2001). She does a fine job of bringing the feisty Sammy to life, capturing the heroine's sense of adventure and her longing to connect with her estranged mother. Sammy's mom decided to go to Hollywood to become a star and left Sammy with Gram. Sammy and her friend Marissa take a bus to Hollywood to find her mom. Hoping to find glamour and beauty, the girls encounter a world filled with seedy characters and harsh realities. Sammy's mother, who now calls herself Dominique and wants to pass herself off as a 25-year-old starlet, is not thrilled when Sammy appears. The story offers a satirical look at what it takes for a woman to make it in Hollywood. When one of Dominique's rivals ends up dead, Sammy thinks her mom may have murdered the woman. Many twists and turns follow, keeping listeners hooked. Although the author overplays the message that Hollywood is filled with duplicitous people who should learn to be themselves, fans of the series and of mysteries in general will enjoy this energetic tale.-Brian E. Wilson, Evanston Public Library, IL Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
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

Product Details

Perfection Learning Corporation
Publication date:
Sammy Keyes Series
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.75(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt


The alarm rang at six-thirty. And that's when I learned that my mother doesn't even wake up the way she used to. No snooze button. No moaning and groaning. No "Oh, please!" from under the covers. Instead, she clicked off the buzz, swung out of bed, smiled, and cried, "It's gone! It's completely gone!"

I wanted to moan and groan and say "Oh, please!" from under the covers, but instead I asked, "Your headache?"

She stands up. "Yes! C'mon, girls. Rise and shine! I told LeBrandi we'd switch back right at six-thirty. She's got to get her things, and I've got to get mine." She comes over and sits on my edge of the bed. "Samantha, I'm really sorry about this. About all of this. And I'll come home the first chance I get so that we can talk -- now that I know you want to talk. But I think you can see that this is not the time to discuss things. If I can get the part of Jewel, then we'll have some options. But in order for me to do that, I've got to live and breathe nothing but Jewel so that I can become sort of a reincarnation of her."

Marissa sits up and rubs her eyes. "Why can't you just be a new Jewel?"

My mother takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly. "Jewel is already an established character. And sure, it'd be a lot more fun for me to do my own interpretation of her, but this is a big, big role. The casting director has made it very clear that the producer wants to fill the part as closely as possible in likeness, manner, and voice to the old Jewel, so that Lords fans will embrace her return. Once you're accepted by the viewers, then you can start making subtle changes."

"Is that why your hair's all..." Marissa ruffled the top of her head, trying to find the words.

"Exactly. It has really helped me get into character. Max says it also shows commitment, which is something this casting director is looking for. And now that I think about it, it may have helped LeBrandi and me to make the final cut."

"LeBrandi did her hair like that, too?"

My mother nodded. "We did it at the same time. It was scary --" she grinned at us -- "but fun."

Marissa says, "But I don't get it. If Jewel's got amnesia, maybe she doesn't remember how she used to be. I mean, she doesn't even know who she is, right?"

"Marissa, all I can tell you is that if this is what the producer wants, this is what you try to deliver."

"What happened to the old Jewel, anyway? Did she die in real life?"

"No," my mother says, standing up. "The truth is, she got too old and too fat. Now come on, girls. Let's get going."

We got dressed quickly and stuffed our jammies away, and we were following her to the door when she says, "Why don't you wait right here." She checks her watch. "If LeBrandi's not ready, I don't want you standing out in the hallway with that suitcase."

So she goes out while we wait. And when she isn't back a minute later, I stick my nose out and look up and down the hallway. Marissa says, "Well?"

"She's gone."

She looks out, too, checking both directions. "Where'd she go?"

"I have no idea."

She points to the left. "That's her room, right?"


"Maybe she went inside."

Just then we see her, scurrying toward us from the bathroom. She comes inside the room, shuts the door, and says, "The room's locked, she's not in the bathroom, she's not in the gym...do you think she's still asleep?"

She's really just talking to herself, so she doesn't wait around for an answer. She goes back to her door, knocks, and whispers, "LeBrandi! LeBrandi, wake up!"

I whisper, "Don't you have a key?" and that's when I look down at our doorknob and notice that it doesn't have a keyed lock. All of the doors just have privacy locks like you find on people's bathrooms.

So I say, "She must be in there. You wouldn't lock it unless you were inside, right?"

She knocks a little louder, "LeBrandi! LeBrandi, it's getting late!"

Marissa offers, "Maybe she locked it by accident. I've done that before."

My mother comes back and says, "What am I going to do?"

I shrug and say, "Just break in."

"Break in? How? I'm not going to rip the door off its hinges."

"No, Mom --"

"Samantha!" She barked it like a dog with laryngitis.

"Sorry! Aunt Dominique."

"Well, what? How would you get in?"

"All you need is something like a cake tester."

"I don't happen to have a cake tester!"

"Anything skinny and hard. A paper clip. A piece of wire. A bobby pin?"

She's all over it. In two seconds flat she's got the drawers of LeBrandi's desk flying in and out, but the best she can produce is a pencil.

"No. It's got to fit into that little hole in the middle of the knob."

She starts tearing through the empty drawers of Opal's desk. "Well, help me look! Maybe there's something in LeBrandi's dresser."

So we go rummaging through LeBrandi's underwear and stockings, bathing suits and polo shirts, and find absolutely nothing that will work. Then a pair of socks stabs me. Just digs in and jabs me. I squeal, "Owwww!" then yank my hand out of the drawer as blood erupts from my ring finger.

My mother whispers, "What happened?"

I stick my finger in my mouth and mumble, "I got jabbed by a sock!" She frowns. "Jabbed by a sock? And you're bleeding?"

I check my finger, then pop it back inside my portable blood vacuum. "Grm-hm."

Marissa's looking through the drawer. "Which pair?"

"They're sort of an olive green...yeah, those! Careful!"

Now, to my mother, bleeding is like farting. It's just not something you do in polite company. And if you do have an accident, well, you excuse yourself and leave the room before anyone realizes what you've done.

But I didn't have anywhere to go, so I just stood there, sucking on my finger while Lady Lana wrinkles her nose like the room is full of gas. Then Marissa untucks a pair of socks and gasps, "Look at this brooch!"

It's a large gold oval pin with a red stone in the middle. And even though the stone is too big to be a ruby, from the way it's cut and set, it sure seems like something expensive.

My mother gasps, too, and very gingerly takes it from the palm of Marissa's hand. She looks at the front, then the back. And when she sees the spear of gold used to pin the thing on, she says, "That would draw blood, all right."

I nod and say, "It'll also open a door."

It's like she'd forgotten. "Oh!" She hands me the brooch. "Here!" So I take the thing, and that's when I see that the design etched in gold around the stone isn't just swirls and swiggles. It's two snakes. Intertwined. And I don't know why, but all of a sudden I get the creeps. Like I hadn't just been jabbed by a brooch -- I'd been bitten by a snake.

I look at my mother and say, "These are snakes."

She jumps back and looks around frantically. "Snakes? Where?"

"On the brooch, Mom. Right here."

She takes a quick look at it and says, "So what?" Then she adds, "And it's Dominique, Samantha."

"Oh, right."

I don't know why the snakes bothered me. Snakes are actually pretty cool. Unless they're coiled up and rattling, ready to inject you with poison, that is. But as I grabbed my backpack and followed my mother next door, I kept looking at the snakes, twined together around the stone, and something about it felt strange. Foreign. Like this brooch didn't belong anywhere near California.

Then I remembered the decorations downstairs and asked my mother, "Where do you think LeBrandi got this?"

She looked around nervously, then checked her watch. "I don't know. I don't care. Would you just open the door?"

So I did. I pushed the pin in, popped the lock out, opened the door, and stepped aside.

My mother blinks at me. "You made that look so easy...! Where'd you learn how to do that?"

"It is easy. And everyone knows how to do that." I look at Marissa standing there with her suitcase. "Don't they?"

She shrugs. "That's what I do whenever Mikey locks himself in my room...but I think I learned it from you."

My mother peeks into her room, then motions us in, whispering, "She's still asleep! I can't believe it."

Other than the light from the hallway, it's pretty dark inside the room. But I can see the silhouette of someone in the bed against the wall. My mother sits on the edge of the mattress and shakes her a little, saying, "LeBrandi? LeBrandi, it's time to get up!"

Something about this is giving me the creeps. And it's more than the fact that my mother's room is like a little cave, small and dark and cool-it's the air. It feels like it's charged wrong. Like the ions are clashing, and angry or something.

So I put the brooch in my sweatshirt pocket and flip on the light. My mother jumps, but LeBrandi keeps right on sleeping, the covers tucked up to her neck as she faces the wall. My mother shakes her again. "LeBrandi! Wake up!"

That's when I notice the orange vial of prescription pills sitting all by itself on the dresser, which butts up to the head of the bed. I whisper, "Look!" and point.

She grabs the pills and reads the label, saying, "I told her to stop taking these! She's missed morning conference twice already because of these!"

I moved a little closer. "Sleeping pills?"

"Yes." She hands them over to me, saying, "Opal got her started on them." She shakes LeBrandi again, only this time she shakes her hard. "LeBrandi! Wake up!"

Now, the first thing I notice when my mother hands me the vial is that it's empty. No rattle of pills inside. Then my mother rolls LeBrandi onto her back. And while she's smacking LeBrandi's cheeks with her fingertips, saying, "Wake up! LeBrandi, wake up!" the air seems to be zapping all around me. I mean, one look at LeBrandi and I know.

No matter how hard my mother slaps her, she's never going to wake up again.

Meet the Author

WENDELIN VAN DRAANEN was a classroom teacher for many years before becoming a full-time writer. The books in the Sammy Keyes mystery series have been embraced by critics and readers alike, with Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief receiving the Edgar Allan Poe Award for best children’s mystery. Wendelin is also the author of many award-winning novels, including Flipped, The Running Dream, Runaway, Confessions of a Serial Kisser, Swear to Howdy, The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones, and Wild Bird. You can find her online at WendelinVanDraanen.com and @WendelinVanD, and you can follow Sammy Keyes on Facebook.

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Sammy Keyes and the Hollywood Mummy 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so thrilling! I totaly loved it! If you haven't read it, you must!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome! Thats the first word l think of when anyone says sammy keyes. This book was lets say a bit creepy in that one scene with the sarcophogus... l think l spelled that wrong but what ever. Sammy really is amazing because well first she saved her moms life!? Hello... that is amazing right there! Actually in almost every book she saves someones life! I also like that sammy brought along with her marissa. But l was hoping that the next book after the curse of mustache mary would be another story with you know casey in it? Im pretty sure lm not the only one that was thinking that... But it was way worth it to read this awesome mystery and to learn more about sammys mysterious mother, her life now and you will see how much sammy really loves her!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
How many pages is the sample?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome book! One of my favorites
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She has so many suspects and ends with what you wouldn't suspect. I had to read the book for school and now going to read another.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous98 More than 1 year ago
This is on my top three list of my fav book. It has an absouloutley thrilling plot and Sammy's dialoge has a feisty bite like no other!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sooooooo good. It was really gripping; I never wanted to put it down. It keeps you alert to what funny thing will happen next. You will never believe how it ends!!! I LOVED IT!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was great! Beyond expectations! Blew me away! Better than the Runaway Elf! You just gotta read this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A wonderful page-turner with a thickening plot by the minute.Read Sammy Keyes and the Hollywood Mummy and try to figure out the ever- increasing mystery.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i read this book first in the series, so that might be why i think it's the best.... but whatever, it's still really really good! actually, all of van draanen's books are super super awesome. i especially enjoyed thinking about who was the murderer as i read this book, and i really couldn't put it down! you'll just LOVE the humor in this book and also the character Sammy Keyes. She's the coolest mystery solver ever
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sammy keyes is reallllly cool. She is like a real 13 year old in real life. I also like how this isnt a little kid book. It is for kids but it is not afriad to add some great drama that older kids enjoy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed Sammy Keyes and the Hollywood Mummy. It had action and suspense. It is one of my favorite mysteries. I love the way the author writes and is clever in writing mysteries.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book!It has such a clever ending and is really interesting!Sammy Keyes is fun and sassy.All of her characters are very developed and you can really tell what they are like. you really need to read this!
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book is good. the mystery never gets boring when Sammy Keys is invloved! this book has so many susp[ects and is a great book evryone in the world should read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book throws you off and it has so many twist and turns that even I coulnd't figure it out till the very end of the book. If you are intrested in the ancient Egypt this is the best sammy keys book to read!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I so love this book, its so funny and at the same time gets you thinking like a detective.This book will keep you up all night reading until you finish it, thats what happened to me!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sammy Keyes is a great mystery book for kids of ages 10 and up. I'd recomend this book to anyone because it leaves you thinking 'what will happen next'. It is a very unpredictable book because you'd never guess that Max was bad, and that LeBrandi died. I hope you like it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sammy Keyes is a great mystery book for kids of the ages 10 and up. I'd recommend this book to anyone because it leaves you thinking 'what will happened next'. It is very unpredictable because you'd never guess that Max was bad, and that LeBrandi was ed.I hope you like it!