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Sammy Keyes and the Power of Justice Jack

4.7 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews
Book 15 of 18 in the Sammy Keyes Series

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • ISBN-10: 0307974073
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307974075
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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 www.wendelinvandraanen.com 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

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Sammy Keyes' town of Santa Martina is so chock full of odd folks that she thinks nothing could surprise her. Then she meets Justice Jack, who is a colorful character who believes himself to be a bona fide superhero, complete with stretch bodysuit (gold and red), red knee and arm pads, and a golden chest plate with a black lightning bolt and a red J. To complete his get-up, Justice Jack wears a utility belt, gold gloves, a fancy helmet and a black mask. Justice Jack rides around in a dirt bike called "High Roller" with a sidecar, flying a red pennant imprinted with a big gold J.

When Sammy first glimpses Jack, she and her friends are celebrating the Christmas arrival of Sinterklaas with their Dutch friend, Dot DeVries, which involves cookies falling through the ceiling and other exotic festivities. They hear someone knocking on the front door. When Dot's little sisters rush to the door, believing Sinterklaas has left gifts on the front porch for them, instead they find Justice Jack, who is carrying a peacock that he hopes to return to its rightful owner. Mr. DeVries points him in the direction of neighbors, but when Dot's dog needs to go outside, Sammy and her friends can't resist checking out the action. What they find is quite the scene: Justice Jack surrounded by men and Sammy's old friend, police officer Borsch.

Officer Borsch addresses Sammy by name, which absolutely stuns Justice Jack. It seems that her reputation as a crime fighter has preceded her. Justice Jack can't get over the fact that he is standing before the person who broke up a dogfighting ring, uncovered counterfeiters, brought a blackmailer to the attention of the law...and all the other amazing detective feats she has accomplished.
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Format: Hardcover
Wendelin Van Draanen delivers another winner with her masterful storytelling. In the fifteenth book in the Sammy Keyes series, readers are introduced to Santa Martina's most colorful, zaniest character ever. Justice Jack rides around town on a dirt bike wearing spandex, a tool belt, and a mask. Is he a bona fide crime-fighting superhero, or just an attention-grabbing oddball?

Readers are entertained by 304 pages of mystery, relationships, dialogue, fascinating conversations, and crazy fun. The sub-plots intertwine beautifully with nonstop action that includes: a wild Sinterklaas celebration with Dot's family, the search for the missing resident and money from the senior high-rise (where Sammy secretly lives with Grams), the mystery of the city hall statue, and the real story behind Justice Jack's persona.

If you've never been introduced to the spunky, funny, leap-before-she-thinks Sammy Keyes, now is the time. Put this title on your must-read list, and enjoy the unforgettable ride. To the highroller!!
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Format: Hardcover
I am a middle school student who loves to read exciting mysteries like the Sammy Keyes series. I have been reading the books since the 4th grade, and the action and characters continue to capture my imagination. I love how Ms. Van Draanen mixes mystery with humor. Sassy Sammy is one of my favorite fictional characters because she takes risks and gets herself into all kinds of trouble, but she always finds a way to solve the mystery and defeat the bad guys. I think Sammy gets more interesting and daring with each book. When she comes up against the crazy, spandex-clad superhero Justice Jack, her detective skills are tested to the limit. Justice Jack's antics make me laugh out loud.
Ms. Van Draanen uses vivid language to bring the story to life. Her writing style is so creative and different from other authors. I can't wait to see how she brings the series to a conclusion and answers many of the questions readers have about her main characters. I will be sad to close the book on the final page of the final Sammy Keyes story, but she will live forever in my mind and heart. Thanks Ms. Van Draanen for creating an unforgettable character kids like me can relate to and watch grow up through the years. Read Sammy Keyes and the Power of Justice Jack! You won't be disappointed
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Format: Hardcover
This is the second Sammy Keyes adventure that I’ve read. I really enjoyed The Showdown in Sin City, and had high hopes for this quirky story, but it is disappointing. There is no question that Van Draanen is technically a good writer—great grammar, well executed chapters, her descriptors are spot on. The story is narrated, or should I say speedily run through, by Sammy who broadcasts a constant stream of chatter, and not always pleasant. Twice Sammy describes her friends as laughing so hard they almost pee their pants. Who says that? Also the word schmuck is used. Puh-leez. Sammy is very judgmental, derogatorily naming people behind their backs; again, not funny. Twice, Justice Jack’s sidekicks are shown to be drinking alcohol. And whereas in the previous book I read I didn’t think some situations were farfetched, this time they were annoying and unbelievable: Sammy lives with her Grams in senior housing, but must sneak in and out at all times so as not to be caught, up and down from the fifth floor fire escape, usually with her backpack on and skateboard in tow. Also, some of the characters are extremely unbelievable, such as her boyfriend, Casey’s mother. I did, however, like Justice Jack. He and Billy are the most sincere and genuine characters.
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