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Sammy Keyes and the Dead Giveaway

Review

Sammy Keyes and the Dead Giveaway

Sammy Keyes tries to keep her teacher's lovebird from escaping the classroom before school, but ends up accidentally killing it. When she hears footsteps and realizes her arch-enemy, Heather, is on her way in, Sammy hides in the closet with the bird corpse clutched in her sweating hand. From her perch she sees Heather rummaging through Mrs. Ambler's desk to steal ballots for the popularity contest Heather has been nominated for. It's pretty plain that Heather has cheating on her mind. Two other students arrive, and then Heather leaves.

Mrs. Ambler returns to find a lovebird missing. When questioned, the two students say Heather was in the room. Sammy, still hiding in the closet and holding the dead bird, watches as Mrs. Ambler accuses Heather of doing something with her bird. Sammy feels a bit triumphant (Heather has done so many cruel things to her), but mostly her conscience troubles her.

Meanwhile, Sammy has been walking a dog for Mrs. Willawago, who may lose her house to the city so they can build a recreation center on the neighborhood land. Sammy is walking Captain Patch when she discovers something puzzling. The woman who told Mrs. Willawago that the city is seizing her home appears to be in cahoots with the lawyer who announced he'll fight the city. What is going on?

Sammy's life is further complicated when she agrees to go to a dance with Heather's brother. She doesn't really want to go…or does she? She keeps telling everyone she and Casey are just friends, but why does she feel so defensive?

Sammy is a totally believable, three-dimensional character with great friendships and typical early teen boy angst. Sammy not only loves to get to the bottom of mysteries but she has a deep side, which makes for thought-inspiring reading. In one haunting scene, the author effectively (and creepily) uses the twittering of birds to describe the state of Sammy's conscience.

I've read many mysteries for all ages, and I don't say this lightly: SAMMY KEYES AND THE DEAD GIVEAWAY stands with the best. Its intriguing subplots, fast pace, thoughtful undercurrents, realistic characters, and truly startling conclusion (I never saw that coming!) make it an outstanding must-read. Very highly recommended.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on May 8, 2007

Sammy Keyes and the Dead Giveaway
(Sammy Keyes #10)
by Wendelin Van Draanen

  • Publication Date: May 8, 2007
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling
  • ISBN-10: 0440419115
  • ISBN-13: 9780440419112