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Sammy Keyes and the Runaway Elf


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About the Author

WENDELIN VAN DRAANEN was a classroom teacher for many years before becoming a full-time writer. The books in the Sammy Keyes mystery series have been embraced by critics and readers alike, with Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief receiving the Edgar Allan Poe Award for best children's mystery. Wendelin is also the author of many award-winning novels, including Flipped, The Running Dream, Runaway, Confessions of a Serial Kisser, Swear to Howdy, The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones, and Wild Bird. You can find her online at and @WendelinVanD, and you can follow Sammy Keyes on Facebook.


Gr 4-7-Sammy Keyes tries to help out a friend and ends up in a mystery that must be solved or she could lose her home in the book by Wendelin Van Draanen (Knopf, 2001). A prize dog is missing and its owner, who blackmails most of the town, forces Sammy to find the dog. At the same time, Sammy must find out why a little girl keeps running away, discover what happened in her grandmother's nosy neighbor that turned her into a mean old woman, and find a way to get even with her school enemy, Heather. Even with this many subplots, the action moves clearly and swiftly, with each tying into the main lesson of the story forgiveness is as good for the forgiver as for the forgiven. This is the fourth adventure in the series, but stands well on its own. Sammy is a strong heroine who has a hard life. The narrator, actress Tara Sands, gives all the characters their own voices, and makes it seem like 13-year-old Sammy is telling the story. A good choice for libraries looking for mysteries for middle school girls.-Ann West LaPrise, Huron School District, New Boston, MI Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Praise for the Sammy Keyes series:

"Van Draanen offers such an explosive combination of high-stakes sleuthing, hilarity, and breathlessly paced action that it's impossible to turn the pages fast enough." --Kirkus Reviews

"There's no stopping Sammy."--Publishers Weekly

"An intelligent, gutsy, flawed, and utterly likable heroine."--Booklist

"Move over, Nancy Drew--a new sleuth is on the scene."--Girls' Life

"Think a combination of Carl Hiaasen's Flush and Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books and you'll be right on target." --School Library Journal

"A high-quality, high-amp mystery series." --The Horn Book

"This funny, clever series is NOT for kids only. I challenge the most seasoned mystery reader to guess 'who done it.'" --Cozies, Capers, and Crimes

"Sammy Keyes comes armed with attitude." --Orlando Sentinel

"Sammy doesn't find mysteries to solve--they find her." --Arizona Republic

"Humor, romance and adventure; this story is an absolute blast." --Chicago Tribune

"If you haven't met Sammy Keyes yet, now is the time." --Children's Literature

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