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 5-8-While living a surreptitious life sneaking in and out of Gram's adults-only apartment complex, Sammy observes the unusual in the usual world. Halloween finds her and her friends mustering nerve to wend their way through dense shrubbery to the front door of scary Bush House to trick-or-treat when they are nearly knocked down by a "skeleton man" scurrying away with his loot in a pillow case. Sammy peers into the house to discover it's on fire, rescues its owner, and becomes embroiled in his family history. Her quick switches between adult intuitiveness and childish pranks are in keeping with a personality that neither thinks twice about rushing into a burning house nor about exposing the misdemeanors of a classmate via the school's public-address system. Only Sammy and a few other characters are developed to any extent. The nosy neighbor, the weak grandmother, and the cantankerous cops are examples of stereotyped adults. Sammy's classmates run the gamut of sweet and naive friends to snide and snotty enemies. However, readers will enjoy the mystery, hijinks, plotting, and adult comeuppance. Occasional black-and-white drawings illustrate the book. A fun read, particularly for fans of the previous book about this young sleuth.-Lynda Short, Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, Lexington, KY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.