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Sammy Keyes and the Wild Things Paperback – December 9, 2008


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 800L (What's this?)
  • Series: Sammy Keyes
  • Paperback: 293 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling (December 9, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780440421122
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440421122
  • ASIN: 0440421128
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #756,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5–8—Readers familiar with this series won't be disappointed in this latest installment. Sammy joins forces with some eco-nutty Girl Scouts and heads to the hills for an outing where they find more than they had bargained for, including scorpions, poison oak, and biting flies. Add to the mix an injured condor and Sammy sets her sight on solving a mystery laced with facts about the near-extinction of this very large, and very ugly, bird. Fans will recognize recurring plots as Sammy, who lives with her grandma in a seniors' complex, tries to keep her own family life a secret while learning how a local television newscaster is secretly connected to poachers, campers, and a crazy-eyed taxidermist. New friends add interest, and quick-witted banter makes this a fast-paced joyride of a read. Think a combination of Carl Hiaasen's Flush (Knopf, 2005) and Janet Evanovich's "Stephanie Plum" books (St. Martin's) and you'll be right on target. A perfect summer reading choice.—Cheryl Ashton, Amherst Public Library, OH
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

Far from middle school and shopping malls, Sammy Keyes explores new territory in the eleventh title in the winning series about the smart, brave, young sleuth. Sammy is surprised to find herself on a Girl Scout camping trip to save the endangered condor. She is not one of those boring, "goody-goody" conservationists. But despite herself, she gets drawn into solving the mystery: Who shot the baby bird and kidnapped its mother? Was it the developers who want the wilderness land? Was it a poacher who will get a fortune for the rare species? The close-up details of the wilderness trek are part of the story--heat, thirst, bugs, rattlesnakes, tracking devices, blisters, and more--in fact, Sammy's poison-oak itch turns out to be a brilliant clue. Series fans will welcome the mix of Sammy's detective work with her personal issues, including a budding romance with the brother of her archenemy. And many readers will be drawn by the nonpreachy struggle to save the "awesome" creature from extinction. Hazel Rochman
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 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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Somebody else should read this book.
Brian G Lash
Sammy feels terribly for Cricket and can't hurt her feelings, so she's stuck for sure with the dreaded camping trip.
KidsReads
The children in my classroom love them.
Book Lover for Life

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Sammy Keyes's friends leave town for the summer, except for the ever-fascinating Casey, who Sammy runs into in the sporting goods store at the mall. He and his buddy Billy are gearing up to go backpacking. Casey invites Sammy, who has never even been camping. Sammy is intrigued but turns him down because of that ridiculous girl/boy thing, which she heartily resents.

But then she runs into a girl from school named Cricket. Although Sammy barely knows her, she lets Cricket persuade her to go camping with her Scout group, who regularly hike out to a condor-monitoring station to count condors. The troop leader, Robin, signs Sammy up (although Sammy is already in the throes of serious misgivings). Cricket blathers on and on about Robin's adorable, smart, passionate-about-condors nephew, Quinn, while Sammy tries unsuccessfully to back out of the camping expedition. What has she done?

Sammy meets Cricket's butterfly-collecting brother Gary, who lives in front of the computer. She discovers that their mother died and their dad is a workaholic. Sammy feels terribly for Cricket and can't hurt her feelings, so she's stuck for sure with the dreaded camping trip. But, after all, it's only four days --- plus, the entire camping experience will give her something in common with Casey.

As the trip starts, though, it's more nightmarish than Sammy ever could have dreamed. The Scouts are wacky, infighting eco-maniacs who casually mention lurking rattlesnakes, mean wild boars, ticks carrying Lyme disease and enormous scorpions. Sammy is also not impressed with college student Vargus and his major attitude, whom she meets when he almost crashes his jeep into their van.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Book Lover for Life on July 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Every summer I look forward to reading the new Sammy Keyes book by Wendelin Van Draanen. Her first five Sammy books were amazing. The children in my classroom love them. I wasn't thrilled with the next three, particularly Snake Eyes. I kept those three in the drawer because I was worried about the lamguage and the level of violence in them. With this book, Van Draanen has returned to creative plot twists and language more suitable for my elementary students. Sammy Keyes and the Wild Things will definitely have a spot on my classroom bookshelf. I couldn't put it down! Appropriate for ages 8+
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Steven C. Frenzel on February 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Sammy Keyes is one of the greatest characters in children's literature. I recommend Ms. Van Draanen's books to all my students, as well as my nieces and nephews. Sammy is about as alive as any character on paper can be - she's got a lot of strikes against her, and yet she perseveres, believing in herself and her great friends. I especially enjoy listening to the books read by the wonderful Tara Sands, who does a magnificent job with all the characters, but especially Sammy. Because these fun and cleverly written books (which are genuine mysteries by the way, with great clues and red herrings along the way, and usually a very surprising ending) are written in the first person, Ms. Sands gets to tell you the story in Sammy's own voice! A great marriage of vocal talent and writing talent - I'm waiting eagerly for this book to come out on CD. And I'm also hoping that Ms. Van Draanen will change her mind later, and choose to write more than 20 books. I know that's greedy, but like many, many readers (and listeners), I will ALWAYS want to know - what happens next to Sammy Keyes, great friend, granddaughter, and detective?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By California Reader on July 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is enjoyable for all ages. Not only did I learn a lot about the preservation of endangered species and how much effort it takes to succeed, it gave me a new respect for wildlife. Sammy Keyes is tenacious in her endeavor to save the wild condors and her journey in this book is most interesting to read.
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By Katie K. on September 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I personally started reading this series in middle school. I am currently in my freshman year of college and still adore these books. Admittedly, I could be a bit biased about this one, considering how much I like Casey (one of the sweetest fictional guys ever). I thought the book was enjoyable overall, and I was glad to learn more about Cricket. I'd been curious about her since Runaway Elf. My only small qualm is how suddenly Sammy told Casey her secret. I understood why she wanted to, but it just seemed really abrupt to me. But then, this would mean Casey will have a bigger part in future books? I certainly hope so. And you've got to love Billy, seriously.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Julie M. Prince on May 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is the first Sammy Keyes book I've read, but I definitely plan to read more now!

Sammy's character is endearing because she's strong and capable while still being vulnerable. Especially to the guy she's crushing on and her ditzy mother.

Watching Sammy try to figure out what's so great about a big ugly bird and why it's important to "save the condors" is hilarious!

"Cool your heels" with this great Sammy Keyes book and you'll soon figure out why that expression has me giggling.
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Format: Kindle Edition
On a whim, thirteen year-old sleuth, Sammy Keyes challenges her fears of scorpions, ticks and poison oak to join an avid condor-tracking scout troop for the weekend. She soon uncovers a sinister plot to "remove" the last two condors from the area. This high-action, hilarious tale, combined with a budding romantic interest, ends in Sammy and her friends' desperate dash to save these two ugly, but majestic birds.
Sammy Keyes and the Wild Things
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