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Sammy Keyes and the Skeleton Man Paperback – April 20, 1999


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 890L (What's this?)
  • Series: Sammy Keyes
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling; Reprint edition (April 20, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375800549
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375800542
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.5 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #445,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 5-7-Wendelin Van Draanen has perfectly captured the tone, outlook, and attitude of a typical 13-year-old girl in her series of books about the mysteries Sammy Keyes inadvertently finds herself solving. Actress/singer Tara Sands gives perfect voice to Sammy's character in this reading of the 1999 Edgar Award for Best Children's Mystery (Knopf, 1998). The entire novel is told in the first person voice of Sammy Keyes, so it is appropriate that the narrator uses a single voice with some varied inflections to indicate comments made by other characters. Her timbre and pitch sound like a 13-year-old. Each of the 18 chapters is introduced by number as it begins. No special sound effects are used. Sammy and her friends, Dot and Marissa, find themselves outside the "bush" house on Halloween. They discover an open door, a fire set on the floor, and elderly Chauncey LeBard tied to a chair inside. Was it a robbery or attempted murder by the intruder dressed in a skeleton costume? Sammy is also struggling with Heather Acosta's nasty attitude toward her, and Heather's attempts to embarrass her in front of a classmate. Her description of Heather as "welcome as onion slices on a peanut butter sandwich" is comically perfect, as is the revenge she exacts on Heather in front of the entire school. Sammy also tangles once again with oafish Officer Borsch as she sets about solving this crime. Sammy's unconventional living arrangement at her grandmother's seniors-only apartment complex where she has to pretend to be just visiting is typical of the author's zany mix of humor and adventure in this series.-Diane Balodis, Alden Intermediate School, NY

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 4^-7. The irrepressible Sammy Keyes, introduced in Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief (1998), returns to solve another mystery--this one involving a family feud and some burgled books. On Halloween, Sammy and her friends decide to trick-or-treat at the Bush House (named for its overgrown shrubbery), and interrupt a mugging and burglary by a skeleton-costumed assailant. With the help of her friends and a police acquaintance, Officer Borsch, Sammy manages to prove the identity of the burglar, recover the missing first editions, and reunite the estranged owners of the Bush House. A side plot involving a classmate's making prank phone calls in Sammy's name adds humor that middle-grade readers will appreciate. Van Draanen's tone is light, but well-developed characters and Sammy's somewhat unconventional lifestyle (she resides illegally with her grandmother in a senior citizens' complex while her mother "finds" herself in Hollywood) make this a worthy choice for mystery buffs, especially fans of Betsy Byars' Herculeah Jones series. Kay Weisman --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 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

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Recommend for all kids to read.
Horrorfan252
My grandson loved this book and I have purchased several in the series for him.
Linda Walmer
I guess what i really mean is that the book was really hooking.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on November 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
7th grader Sammy Keys has got a lot of troubles on her hands. It all started on Halloween at the bush house with her friends. At the bush house no one answered and Sammy saw a fire. After Sammy put it out with a sweater they found Chancey Lebard (the owner of the house, who they call the bush man)tied to a chair. It turns out he was robbed, and sammy was interested an started investigating. The sweater she put the fire out withturned out to be [expensive]. If it got all burn't up, she'd be in trouble.
those are not the only problems Sammy beholds. Her worst enemy Heather wasmaking a fool of her but every one thinks it is really Sammy. as far as Sammy is concerend it is payback time for Heather.
I like every thing about this book. I really like howit has a lot of problems at one time, it makes it more interesting. It also usesgood detail and description. Sammy Keys and the Skeleton Man is full of suspenceand i couldn't put it down. I can't think of anything ididn't like about this book except it had to end.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
My mom gave me this book for Halloween trying to encourage me to read again.When I pick up this book I'm instantly in Sammy's world!The action is amazing!!!I's scary ,funny, and amazingly good.This book deserves 99,999,999, thousand stars.I've planned on reading all of the books!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "groovychic22" on October 21, 2002
Format: Paperback
Sammy doesn't look for trouble, but it usually finds her. In this case, it's on Halloween, when she gets run over by a skeleton with a bag of stolen goodies, who sets a fire in a spooky house. And that's just the beginning. Sammy is right-on, as are her friends, Marissa and Dot. But she doesn't sound nearly as convincing with her adult voices, especially Grams, who sounds like she's 30, rather than 55-plus. Overall, a good mystery, in a great series. This book is Awsome!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is the best book! I love it! As Sammy solves the mystery of Chauncy's stolen stuff, Heather yet again trys to embarrass her. Suspenseful and funny. Excellent. 10000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 stars. Wendelin Van Draanen is a terrific author. 2 thumbs up, maybe even toes up!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Even though I probably had more expectations going to this book, I found it to be just as good as the first. It doesn't follow the stereotype of some series, where the 1st book is good and the rest aren't so great. This book was as appealing and interesting as the first, while still standing on it's own unique plot, and it's own fun cleverness and 'relatability'. Sammy shows her independance, spunk and genius for solving mysteries again, and the more I read, the more I like her! All I can say is I'll be reading the next ones ASAP!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on April 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
In this exotic story a girl named Sammy Keyes and her friends must solve the mystery of who tried to kill Chauncy LeBard and who stole his 500,000 dollar books!!!!!! Along the way Sammy pulls a prank on her worst enemy Heather Acosta. With the help of Officer Borsch and "Muscles", Sammy finds out who the almost - murderer is!!!!!!!! But if I told you who, it wouldn't be much of a mystery, now would it ???????

Sammy soon discovers that revenge isn't always so sweet, for once she pulls her prank on Heather she ends up with 20 hours of detention!!!!!!! In this particular book it's rather hard to spot the themes and messages, but sometimes that's what makes a mystery so well, mysterious!!! You may think that this book is scary because there is an attempted murder but it's not, it's an awesome book with a couple of funny bits here and there.

This book is an exciting mystery that will take you into it's pages so your standing right there next to Sammy as she unravels the mystery just like a mini Nancy Drew. So since this is such a good book I recommend it to you immensely. Put it on your "Books to read" list or something. I'm serious, read it.

PLEASE??????
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By m on March 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book was great to when she stomped out a fire with a 500 dollar sweater to when she talked over the P.A system(embarrasasing her all time enemy)! It needed to be a couple of more pages longer to actually guess who the robber was, but if you take your time reading you will guess it. Well thought-out plot and charaters(you actually could related to some of the incidents that transpire in this mystery. The real reason why I liked this book is that it isn't filled up with descriptions (about the setting and atmosphere). If you have ever read The Return of the King by J.R.R Tolkien you know what I mean. See his books are exciting but slow-paced(as to this book; fast-paced); if you read 10 paragraphs of his books you'll see that 9 of them are meaningless descriptions and 1 paragraph obout the plot. There are more sophisticated mysteries (i.e The Matter of Roses by David Manuel), but if you are sick of books that are sophisticated and has way too many pages(filled of complex words), I suggested you read this! It's a easy plot to comprehend with real-life situations. Just a easy reading book, but excellent!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is wonderful. I have read her first book, and I didn't think The Skeleton Man could be any better, but I was wrong! It is very entertaining and a treasure for any age. A standing ovation for Mrs. Van Draanen!
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