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Sammy Keyes and the Dead Giveaway Paperback – May 8, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8–From the untimely death of a lovebird and the corrupt politics of the school's Class Personalities election, to the broader issues of eminent domain and even murder, Sammy is once again at the heart of the action. Her disarming and endearing knack of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and her equally charming desire to do the right thing make her one of the most lovable sleuths around. While she confesses her responsibility for an accident to her teacher, she gives this description: Sheer panic set in. But there was no turning back. No getting off this ride. I was strapped in by my own conscience, about to catapult over the edge, hard and fast. I held my breath, closed my eyes, and prayed the drop wouldn't kill me. This comedy of errors with its final cascade of stunning revelations will have readers on the edge of their seats.–Elizabeth Fernandez, Brunswick Middle School, Greenwich, CT
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 5-8. Nearing the end of seventh grade, Sammy begins to display convincing and admirable wisdom along with realistic anxiety about such teenage rites as a school dance. Her increasing maturity clearly shows in her attitude toward an ailing senior citizen, who lives in a decayed neighborhood that seems ripe for urban renewal. While helping the elderly lady with her dog,^B Sammy notices the local council member seems to be working both sides of the eminent domain issue. She also becomes aware that someone is purposefully throwing rocks through the windows along the street. Following a "group nondate" to the dance, Sammy and her friends go into the crumbling neighborhood, and that's when Sammy figures out what's going on. This is one of the best entries in the popular, long-running series. Sammy and most of her friends are well-developed characters with adventurous spirits, and the clever twist at the end of the story is sure to delight Sammy's fans. Francisca Goldsmith
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Series: Sammy Keyes
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling (May 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440419115
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440419112
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #875,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

"Through writing, I open up my heart and soul in ways I never could in everyday life. The joy, the pain, the wonder and loneliness I felt in growing up, meld into stories which I hope will help kids believe in themselves and have compassion for those around them."--Wendelin Van Draanen

Wendelin Van Draanen is the winner of the 1999 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Children's Mystery Book for Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief. Sammy Keyes and the Search for Snake Eyes is a 2003 Edgar Award nominee.

Visit Wendelin Van Draanen's Web site at for the lastest on The Gecko and Sticky, Sammy Keyes, Shredderman, and more!

How in the world did I wind up writing a book about a kleptomaniacal, talking gecko lizard? I'm the first to admit-talking animals are not my thing. First person, realistic fiction-that's what I like. And yet, after Sticky appeared as a sidekick television character in my Shredderman series and uttered his first "Holy guaco-tacarole!" I was hooked. He's so funny. And so full of mischief.
I always develop a backstory for my characters to get to know them. Even if they're secondary characters, I have to understand their background and motivations before I let them into the story. The premise of the third Shredderman book (Meet the Gecko) is that a television crew comes to town to shoot an episode, and Shredderman helps out the star of the show. Not wanting to deal with the legal complications of using a real television show, I made up my own: The Gecko and Sticky. In the process, I came up with the hero (Dave Sanchez-a boy who has the "superpower" of being able to walk up walls, and is known as the Gecko), the sidekick (Sticky who is, as you already know, a talking gecko with . . . h'hem, sticky fingers), the villain (the deadly, diabolical, and definitely demented Damien Black), and Damien's sidekicks (the Bandito Brothers, who are, in fact, not brothers, but a thieving mariachi band).
It was definitely wilder than anything I'd come up with before, but hey-it was just a made-up TV show, right?
Ah, how diabolically infectious made-up TV shows can be!
Sticky, you see, got under my skin. His "Ay-ay-ay"s and his "What the jalapeno was that?" and his "You cut me to the quick, senor" enchanted me, and I was sorry when his role in the Shredderman books was over.
After the Shredderman quartet was complete, I began getting lots of fan mail from kids (and teachers) asking me to please write more Shredderman books. It was tempting, because I love Nolan and the gang. But I'd completed my mission with the quartet; so instead, I started writing The Gecko and Sticky.
My first attempt resulted in an over 200-page manuscript. That was closer to a Sammy Keyes novel than a Shredderman book. So I hacked it up, threw it out, and started all over.
My next try had me at 150 pages-still too long, and something about it wasn't quite right. So I chucked it and asked myself what in the world I was thinking, writing in the voice of a lizard.
But then on a flight from New York to California, I started hearing a voice. It wasn't my voice. Or the guy snoring in the seat beside me. It was, you know, a voice. One in my head.
Yeah, we writers hear them, and although we will almost certainly deny it if you press us about it, we also listen. It's how I wrote Swear to Howdy; how Bryce appeared in Flipped; where Holly's poems came from in Runaway . . . and it's how the narrator took over the storytelling for The Gecko and Sticky.
It's a man's voice in my head. (Okay, I concede that I might need some help.) But he's funny as all get-out, and I like to listen to him. He's the voice of someone who loves the art of storytelling; of someone who will hold a child's wide-eyed attention as he shares the wild antics of a boy and his mischievous gecko; of someone I'd plead, "Just one more chapter, please?"
So I hope that explains it, because I really must go. He's talking to me again and I've got to get back to Dave and Sticky. They are, after all, in the midst of some deep, diabolical doo-doo . . .

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By impossible girl on October 19, 2005
Format: Library Binding Verified Purchase
The Sammy Keyes series just keeps getting better. In this newest installment, we have a great twist. For once, Sammy ISN'T blamed for something that happens and Heather, her archenemy, is. This book begins and, as the others in the series have proved, has the reader along for a wild ride for the remainder of the story.

Sammy, as usual, finds comfort in telling Hudson her problems and also by opening up to Grams. Noticeably missing from this book entirely, however, was Officer Borsch. I don't know what happened to him, but when the police were summoned, we were introduced to two new characters, Squeaky and the Chick.

This book will be a must-read for fans of the series. In it, Sammy tells about her middle school life and how it's still hard to avoid that "Where do you live?" question that she often gets from the grown-ups around her. Sammy even joins Casey and his friends for the 8th grade dance (although she is a 7th grader). The first REAL date for Sammy, the boys have rented a black Hummer limo, which they designate "The Black Pearl". The pirate banter is hilarious and will have you saying "argh!" while trying to get the song "Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me!" out of your head.

Sammy is always TOPS on my list and this book is nothing to miss!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on November 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Have you ever had a big secret that you couldn't tell anyone? Maybe a bad test grade that you couldn't tell your parents about or a mistake that made you so embarrassed your cheeks turned scarlet red? Whether you're willing to admit it or not, we've all had skeletons in the back our closets at some point or another. In Sammy Keyes and the Dead Giveaway, Sammy definitely has one- literally too!

Wendelin Van Draanan, the award winning author of Sammy Keyes and the Dead Giveaway, is also the author of the other installments in the Sammy Keyes mystery series and other novels like Flipped. The main character in this novel and the other books in the series is, as you may have guessed, Sammy Keyes. Sammy is a 13 year old girl finishing up seventh grade and is like any other normal teenage girl who plays softball and wears her signature high tops, or so it seems. In reality, Sammy actually lives illegally with her Grams in the Senior Highrise because her mom went off to become a superstar in Hollywood and her dad's whereabouts are unknown. She's bullied around by Heather Acosta, the pierced archenemy of Sammy's since her first day of school at William Rose Junior High School. She's friends with a wealthy girl who does a special dance every time she gets nervous, a Dutch girl who goes by the name of Dot, and a young lady who used to live in a box. She is a clever, witty, and quick teen who knows how to push peoples' buttons. She has a 72 year old friend named Hudson Graham who loves to rack her brain when she is confused about a mystery she's trying to solve. Mysteries you ask? Yes, Sammy is a local super sleuth in the town of Santa Martina. She solves the crimes before the police and knows how to think outside of the box. In this suspenseful novel, Sammy is faced with a big internal secret.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By sapoguapo on August 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book is good, but not as funny as some of Wendelin's other books. Sammy is a strong character, as always, and I especially liked the way the teacher goes nuts after her bird disappears, Sammy feels quite guilty about that. It was a very pleasant read, but the mystery part itself wasn't all that compelling, and for me it wasn't laugh-out loud funny like the Art of Deception, but it's definitely at par with other Sammy Keyes books. It features a strong moral in terms of sticking up for what's right even when it's the tough choice. Wendelin's Shredderman series is hilarious and Flipped is also a really good book, whereas this book features some fun pirate talk but not much in the way of the funny and embarrassing teen romance scenes that cropped up in the Art of Deception, and the mystery bit is never tense or particularly exciting. Four stars is maybe even a bit much for this book, 3.5 is probably more like it.
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A Kid's Review on May 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I give this story 3 stars. Sammy Keyes is a quick read with a weak character description. The two main characters are Sammy Keyes and Heather, Heather is self centered and possibly a cheater. Sammy is a regular teen but she likes to solve mysteries and gets to the bottom of things.

The setting is the school and a small suburban town in current day. There's a train that is a house in the in side that's home for a woman and a dog that Sammy takes care of.

The plot is center on school popularity, cheating, and a dead bird. The mystery is Heather is cheating to be the most popular. Sammy kills the teacher's lovebird by accident. There is also a plot to steal a house from her neighbor.

The theme is about truth and lying and how the truth comes out.

I'll say all of you people out there that like mysteries and don't care about the character description would like this book. The thing I like about this book is the settings and the plot. The description of the settings explain it very simply, and make it seem like it was written about my school. This book is confusing. The confusing part is how she solves the conflict. At some parts that can make it challenging for some people but I think it's pretty good for me. :)
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