Title: Sammy Keyes and the Hotel ThiefAuthor: Van Draanen, WendelinPublication Info: New York: Borzoi Books (Knopf), 1998Age Groups/Grades: Ages 10-13/Grades 4 – 6
Topics: mystery/detectives, grandmothers, robbers
Summary: Thirteen-year-old Sammy, who lives illegally at her grandmother’s “seniors only” apartment sees a crime committed while she’s looking through her binoculars—and the thief sees her. Booktalk: Sammy Keyes’ life is already crazy. She’s living illegally with her grandma in a seniors-only apartment complex while her mother tries to find an acting job out in California. While looking through her binoculars at the “seedy hotel” across the road—when her grandma has specifically told her NOT to be she sees someone who looks vaguely familiar committing a crime and then, the thief sees her. No way the thief could be sure she saw him right? Well, maybe not if she hadn’t waved at him. To complicate things, her grandma’s neighbor has taken to spying on the apartment trying to prove that Sammy’s living there, which means that Sammy and her grandma have to get pretty creative to get Sammy in and out. Oh, and did I tell you that, on the first day of middle school, Sammy gets poked in the butt with a pin and gets suspended? Will the neighbor catch Sammy? Will the thief figure out who she is and come after her? Will her entire seventh grade year come crashing down around her? Read Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief by Wendelin Van Draanen to find out.
Notes: As an avid mystery fan, I am all too often looking for a new series to read when I “catch up” with a favorite author’s latest. Looking at the genesis of this illness, I realized that it started in elementary school when I got hooked on two mystery series--the Three Investigators (Hitchcock) and Nancy Drew (Keane). Reading each new book in those two series was like having a mini-reunion with old friends. Sammy Keyes promises to be a series and a character well worth revisiting.