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Sammy Keyes and the Psycho Kitty Queen Paperback – April 11, 2006

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Series: Sammy Keyes
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling; Reprint edition (April 11, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440419107
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440419105
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #189,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8–Once again Sammy Keyes is up to her ears in mystery. When she discovers a succession of cats killed in bizarre ways and left in dumpsters around town, she tries to figure out who would commit such a crime. Then her mother reappears and confesses that she had changed Sammy's birth certificate to get her into kindergarten so she is actually turning 13 on her birthday–again. Sammy, anxious to move beyond the unlucky number, is beside herself. But she learns to cope with the situations in her life and solves the cat mystery as well. Heather, her archenemy, reappears, yet this time Sammy has more good luck than bad in dealing with her–probably due to the four-leaf clover given to her by Heather's brother, Casey. Throughout the book, details refer back to earlier stories but not so much so that readers new to the series will be lost. And Sammy's anger at her mother for abandoning her, mean girls at school, and her ambivalence about her attraction to Casey will strike a chord with young teens. Another hit in a solid series.–Diana Pierce, Running Brushy Middle School, Cedar Park, TX
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. Cats are disappearing in Sammy Keyes' neighborhood, and, worse still, some are turning up dead in garbage cans. The 13-year-old detective won't rest until she and her friend, Holly, track down the perpetrators. A new wrestling school, where Sammy learns a few flashy moves, might just lead them to the villains. Meanwhile, series fans can catch up with the familiar cast of characters as Sammy's unreliable mother visits; her archenemy, Heather, starts a fight; and a hint of romance develops between Sammy and Heather's brother. Sammy continues to be likeable, smart, determined, and sometimes hotheaded as she copes with bad news from her mother and the usual tense routine of living secretly in her grandmother's adults-only apartment building. While readers may need to suspend disbelief as Sammy outwits another crook, they'll recognize the rest of her life as believably complicated and imperfect--like their own. Kathleen Odean
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 19 customer reviews
It's fun to read.
L. S. Weinstein
Her latest Sammy Keyes novel is an adrenaline rush that will have the series' fetishists/loyal fans spinning.
All of these things somehow fit into Sammy's schedule, but she'll pull through!
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on December 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book is written very well and the end is, as always pretty surprising. Now to the story...Sammy's life is a disaster: She lives in her Grams' apartment which is only for seniors, so she always has to sneak up the fire escape. Her mom left her for a career in Hollywood and then suddenly she shows up on Sammy's birthday. She came to tell Sammy that she isn't turning fourteen, she's turning 13 because her mom had made a fake birth certificate. Sammy is really upset but then she and her friend Holly find dead cats all over town in garbage cans and they start solving the mystery. At a new wrestling school, Slammin' Dave's,(where Sammy also learns some nice wrestling moves) there's a wrestler, El Gato who looks very scary since he always has a cat mask and costume on and never takes it off, so Sammy and Holly become very suspicious. In the end El Gato turns out to be someone totally different than they would have thougt. How they solve the mystery and find out who the cat killer was, will grab you and make you want to keep reading and reading. I really enjoyed the book and read it in only two days and I recommend it to anyone who likes mysteries. The characters are described good and likable except for Heather and her friends,Sammy enemies. The book is also a real page-turner and i would recommend the other Sammy Keyes books as well. I hope this review helped and that you enjoy the book as much as I did.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By impossible girl on June 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Wow, I am amazed every time a new Sammy Keyes book comes out. Each one is better than the one before it. In this book, not only is it bad enough to be the "lucky" number 13, but Sammy has to tolerate a visit from Lady Lana (her mom) on top of evil Heather's jealous rages.

In this book, Sammy finds a dead cat on her birthday and, because she IS Sammy, she can't just let it go. She HAS to find out where that dead cat came from. Why was it in the dumpster? Who had killed it? The answers to those questions almost cost Sammy her life. This book, like the others in the series, was hard to put down once I started it. I tend to read Sammy Keyes books in a day, starting in the morning and ending in the evening when I am finished. :) This book was no exception and is DEFINTELY worth the price.

ALL mystery fans will love Sammy. It's funny though, as a fan of mystery books, I am always surprised at how the Sammy Keyes books end.....when I read mysteries from other authors (Mary Higgins Clark, Sue Grafton, etc.) I can usually figure out the exact ending after about a hundred pages and am never surprised. Not so with Sammy Keyes. This book has been the highlight of my summer reading so far. It definitely should not be missed!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Deanna T. Some on April 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book because it was humorous, only 5 percent romantic(unlike other soppy books), was interesting, and the main character had a cool perspective of looking at things.

If you have not already read this book, DO IT!!!!


Thank you for reading my review of this awesome book.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on January 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I've been reading Sammy Keyes since the 4th grade, and every time I pick up a new one I think to myself that it won't be as good as the last. Yet every time I am oh-so-wrong as they just keep getting better. In the 9th installment to this awesome mystery series Sammy is turning 14. But when her mother unexpectedly shows up with a lot of explaining to do it looks like Sammy might be 13 for another year. As if things couldn't go worse, a women who calls herself "Mrs. Kitty" shows up with a complaint that Sammy's friend's old dog has killed her cat. Sensing something funny, the sleuth begins to search around the gritty side of town. And what does she find? Cats that have died a creepy death in dumpsters around Santa Martina. At least something is good - Sammy has discovered a new talent for wrestling, and with the new Slammin' Dave's Pro Wrestling School around the corner, she is taking out her anger on the matt. But school issues with the queen bee, Heather Acosta and a romance with her twin brother might just cause Sammy to go over the top.

Wendelin Van Draanen has done a brilliant job of bringing out the realistic voice of a young teen in this entertaining book. Anyone who want s a good mystery and is looking for something other than the beloved Nancy Drew should definitely pick this up. Or if you're just looking for a quick read that will send shivers up your spine and belly-laughs through your stomach, this will be perfect for you. Go Sammy!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By S. Boswell on November 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Sammy's at it again. And this time, cats are involved. She and Holly have been finding strange-looking dead cats in dumpsters around town, and even for this town, that's not normal. Meanwhile, Sammy makes two horrible discoveries about herself involving her birthday, and one has to do with archenemy Heather Acosta. But sparks continue to fly between Sammy and Heather's nice-boy brother, Casey. Go with Sammy through this book as she struggles to figure out what sinister thing is going on with the cats of Santa Martina, as well as with Heather Acosta, the ultimate catty girl.

It took me longer than usual to get into this Sammy book, which was a little disappointing. But about 2/3 of the way through, Van Draanen finally "had me." The ending went fast and fantastically. She had me guessing at the answer to the mystery much longer than usual, but maybe that was because it's been awhile since my last dose of Sammy! (Too long!) It's a good one!
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