Cover image for Sammy Keyes and the skeleton man
Sammy Keyes and the skeleton man
Van Draanen, Wendelin.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, [1998]

Physical Description:
172 pages ; 22 cm
On Halloween night, seventh grader Sammy stumbles onto a mystery involving a twenty-year-old family feud and some heirlooms stolen by a man in a skeleton costume.
Reading Level:
890 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.1 7.0 28508.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 6.5 12 Quiz: 18837 Guided reading level: T.




Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Childrens Area

On Order



What does Frankenstein have that a skeleton wants? Sounds like a bad Halloween joke. But Sammy Keyes isn't laughing. She's the one who collided with the skeleton while he was making his getaway. And she's the one who discovered Frankenstein tied to a chair with his head twisted around. Someone's taken "trick or treat" way too far. When Sammy tries to puzzle out what really happened Halloween night, she's amazed at how many people have something to hide -- and how far they'll go to keep their disguises intact. Of course, Sammy's got a few secrets herself. And more than a few tricks up her sleeve. She'll need them all to unravel this tale of greed and grudges and getting even...

Author Notes

Wendelin Van Draanen was born on January 6, 1965 in Chicago, Illinois. She is the daughter of chemists who emigrated from Holland. She worked as a math teacher and then as a computer science teacher before becoming an author. Wendelin Van Draanen began her writing career with a screenplay and soon switched to adult novels and then children's books. She is best known for her Sammy Keyes series of novels, which she started writing in 1997, featuring a teenage detective named Samantha Keyes. Her popular Sammy Keyes series had been nominated four times for the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Children's Mystery and won with "Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief". Her Shredderman series also yielded a Christopher Medal for Secret Identity. She has also written several novels such as: How I Survived Being a Girl and Flipped.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 4^-7. The irrepressible Sammy Keyes, introduced in Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief (1998), returns to solve another mystery--this one involving a family feud and some burgled books. On Halloween, Sammy and her friends decide to trick-or-treat at the Bush House (named for its overgrown shrubbery), and interrupt a mugging and burglary by a skeleton-costumed assailant. With the help of her friends and a police acquaintance, Officer Borsch, Sammy manages to prove the identity of the burglar, recover the missing first editions, and reunite the estranged owners of the Bush House. A side plot involving a classmate's making prank phone calls in Sammy's name adds humor that middle-grade readers will appreciate. Van Draanen's tone is light, but well-developed characters and Sammy's somewhat unconventional lifestyle (she resides illegally with her grandmother in a senior citizens' complex while her mother "finds" herself in Hollywood) make this a worthy choice for mystery buffs, especially fans of Betsy Byars' Herculeah Jones series. --Kay Weisman

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-7-Wendelin Van Draanen has perfectly captured the tone, outlook, and attitude of a typical 13-year-old girl in her series of books about the mysteries Sammy Keyes inadvertently finds herself solving. Actress/singer Tara Sands gives perfect voice to Sammy's character in this reading of the 1999 Edgar Award for Best Children's Mystery (Knopf, 1998). The entire novel is told in the first person voice of Sammy Keyes, so it is appropriate that the narrator uses a single voice with some varied inflections to indicate comments made by other characters. Her timbre and pitch sound like a 13-year-old. Each of the 18 chapters is introduced by number as it begins. No special sound effects are used. Sammy and her friends, Dot and Marissa, find themselves outside the "bush" house on Halloween. They discover an open door, a fire set on the floor, and elderly Chauncey LeBard tied to a chair inside. Was it a robbery or attempted murder by the intruder dressed in a skeleton costume? Sammy is also struggling with Heather Acosta's nasty attitude toward her, and Heather's attempts to embarrass her in front of a classmate. Her description of Heather as "welcome as onion slices on a peanut butter sandwich" is comically perfect, as is the revenge she exacts on Heather in front of the entire school. Sammy also tangles once again with oafish Officer Borsch as she sets about solving this crime. Sammy's unconventional living arrangement at her grandmother's seniors-only apartment complex where she has to pretend to be just visiting is typical of the author's zany mix of humor and adventure in this series.-Diane Balodis, Alden Intermediate School, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.