Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sammy Keyes and the Cold Hard Cash by Wendelin Van Draanen

Hi, I'm Stephanie Ford, I'm an adult, and I'm addicted to Sammy Keyes mysteries.  There, I said it.  There are so many middle grade fiction series unraveling out there, but this is the one I'm most addicted too.  Sure, I'm always in a hurry to find out how things with Percy Jackson will wrap up, and I NEED to know what happens to Charlie Bone next, oh, and who isn't looking forward to checking on the Goose Girl's characters in Shannon Hale's upcoming Forest Born? But I must say I most look forward to the release of each Sammy Keyes book.

For those of you who may not be familiar (gasp!), Sammy Keyes is a junior high school age sleuth that could kick Nancy Drew's butt (although I enjoy Nancy too, of course).  Sammy's mom dumped her with her grandmother (grams) and whisked off to seek her stardom in Hollywood.  Meanwhile Sammy is forced to sneak out of her Grams' senior high rise, where kids are only allowed to visit, and she sleeps on the couch and hides in the closet when unexpected visitors stop by.  It doesn't sound like the life of luxury, yet Sammy never seems down about it.  Unlike Nancy, Sammy has been known to get her hands dirty as she struggles to keep her quick fists and tongue in cheque.

In Cold Hard Cash, Sammy runs into an elderly man on the fire escape and she's sneaking into Grams and causes him to have a heart attack.  He shocks wads of money into Sammy's hands and he last words are a plea to her to get rid of it.  For the first time in Sammy's life, her curiosity isn't peaked.  She doesn't want to know anything about the money, she wants to keep it, but she can't get rid of the bad feelings surrounding the money and ultimate can't resist solving the mystery.

Some of the Sammy Keyes books seem like they could be after school specials when you read the summaries about issues like drugs, the environment, homelessness etc., but the books never come off that way.  Sammy is funny, and although her mom isn't much of a mom and her dad is out of the picture, she's surrounded by a community of people that care about her.  She's anything but perfect, but I promise, you'll learn to love her.

12 comments:

Angelica said...

Hello Stephanie,
I apologize that this comment isn't related to your post, but I just wanted to say that I love reading your blog and that I am always interested in what you have to say. I am a recent college grad with a degree in Comparative Literature. I am looking for some advice about grad school because I also have a passion for children's literature and would like to pursue a masters in the field. Please email me at az54@cornell.edu if you have some time. Thank you so much and keep up the great work!

Amy Btw M said...

These sound really good. Thanks for your review. I'm also waiting anxiously to find out what happens with Percy Jackson.

Marcia said...

Go ahead a gasp - I'm one of those new to Sammy Keyes, but I'm going to get to know her very soon. Isn't it great when important themes and ideas are presented with imagination and humor? Thanks for a great review.

Marcia Calhoun Forecki
Better Than Magic
www.eloquentbooks.com/BetterThanMagic.html

Chain Reader said...

This series sounds awesome!

Mechelle said...

I LOVE SAMMY TOO! My co-workers know that I will be the first on the hold list when the new one comes out. I wish I had half the gumption and smarts that Sammy did at her age! She is a real girl hero! Mechelle

the_mel said...

I love children's literature. Our mutual friend (Nikki) introduced me to your blog. Sammy Keyes and the Cold Hard Cash was not available at my library so I checked out Sammy Keyes and the Runaway Elf. Is that a good one to start with?

Stephanie Ford said...

I would probably read them in order, starting with Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief then Skeleton Man and on down the line. Normally with series I like to have a break between each book, but I read several of these in a row because I was so attached to Sammy and curious about what she would get into next.

Enjoy!

Meg said...

So I am going to admit this...I still haven't picked up a Sammy Keyes book. Ahhh, I know, I have meant to forever. It was one of those hands-off books because the 6th grade teachers took dibs. Oh, the elementary school politics! Anyways, it is going on my list.

Mechelle said...

Also, the audio books are terrific! I still here the narrator's voice when I read them in print.

Lindsay said...

Wow talk about a trip down memory lane! I haven't read Sammy Keyes in forever. Thanks for posting this! I think I'll have to start rereading from the beginning to catch up. Maybe I'll take the person above me's advice and get the audio books....

~M.E.G.A.N~ said...

Hi! I loved your review!
Sammy Keyes is AWESOME :D I love her books. Not only are they heartfelt and poignant (sometimes), they are also exciting and compelling! :D
I just finished reading "The Dead Giveaway" (for about the hundreth time! ;)) In "The Wild Things" and "The Cold Hard Cash", is there anything more about Casey Acosta? Because I really want to know :D

Jenny D. said...

I wish Sammy Keyes was my best friend!!