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Sammy Keyes and the Wild Things

Review

Sammy Keyes and the Wild Things

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.

Sammy can't believe the agony of Borrowed Hiking Boot Blister Syndrome and the horrible fact that drinking water is limited. Is she in camping hell? But Sammy comes into her own when the group finds the lookout trashed and then, later, an injured condor. Sammy recognizes a mystery, even out in the wilderness --- and solving it just may make the camping trip worthwhile after all.

Breathless adventure, a funny fish-out-of-water plot, a truly puzzling mystery, realistic characters, lots of fascinating nature facts and a bit of subtle romance --- not to mention Sammy's trademark wisecracking voice --- all add up to yet another truly excellent mystery in Wendelin Van Draanen's Sammy Keyes series.

Fair warning: start this book and you may well not be able to do anything else until you've finished it!

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on May 8, 2007

Sammy Keyes and the Wild Things
(Sammy Keyes #11)
by Wendelin Van Draanen

  • Publication Date: May 8, 2007
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0375835253
  • ISBN-13: 9780375835254