cover image Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief

Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief

Wendelin Van Draanen. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $15 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-679-88839-0

Sammy Keyes has no keys, nor does she need them. Living illegally with her grandmother in a senior citizens' residence, she enters and exits through a jiggered fire door and finds her way into a number of other restricted areas with equal ease. Although she's a girl detective starring in a new series (her second adventure, Sammy Keyes and the Skeleton Man, is planned for a fall release), Sammy is no Nancy Drew. She's smart-mouthed and hard-hitting, unpopular at school and on the outs with the law. Readers follow the sleuth through her saucy first-person narrative as she tries to find a burglar who's made a number of hits in her neighborhood--one of which she witnessed while spying on her neighbors with binoculars. The solution will likely come as a surprise, and the sleuth delights from start to finish. Van Draanen's novel exhibits all the zesty charm of her previous How I Survived Being a Girl. For example, Sammy's vice principal ""looks like he could be a professional wrestler if he'd let his hair grow out and get a suntan."" Although this young gumshoe is not yet a professional herself, she's well on her way--and certainly worth watching. Keep your binoculars trained on Sammy Keyes. Ages 10-13. (Apr.)