Sammy Keyes and the Skeleton Man
by Wendelin Van Draanen
Every summer I usually get so caught up with discovering and reading new middle grade fiction in preparation for September’s Mock Newbery Club launch, that I have little time to read anything else. This summer I’m trying to be different. Sure, I’m still reading every wonderful new book I can get my hands on, but since my recent foray into the Series of Unfortunate Events novels, I’m taking another look at some of the “golden oldies” that I may have missed out on when I as busty raising my own three boys. As I wrote about earlier, I remember my children being excited every time a new Series of Unfortunate Events book was released. But I never had a chance to read any of the books, there were not too many free moments between taking care of the boys, going back to school, studying, and working various part time jobs. Reading anything for fun was a luxury. What I did make time for was reading out loud to the boys. This is something I will forever be grateful that I did, as I do believe it helped to foster their love of reading and helped them to become the successful young men they are today.
The Sammy Keyes series is another group of books that I remember seeing in the library when the boys were little. I think one or more of the boys may have even read a few of the books. I’m embarrassed now to admit that another reason I may not have picked up the books back then was because of the covers. I don’t like scary books (can’t sleep at night if I read them), so seeing skeletons and mummies on the front cover of a book just might have scared me off. Happily, I rediscovered Sammy Keyes about a year ago when I was searching for engaging mysteries for the sixth graders I teach. After reading the first book in the series, Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief, I immediately fell under Sammy’s spell.
Sammy Keyes and the Skeleton Man is the second book in the series. While you do not need to have read the first book to read this one, the main characters are all there with a few interesting additions such as the Bush Man, Skeleton Man and a new friend for Sammy, Dot. It doesn’t take long for Sammy to become embroiled in another mystery when she and her friends discover that the neighborhood recluse has been robbed on Halloween. After calling the police for help, Officer Borsch warned Sammy to “stay out of it”, but in true Sammy-style she just can’t help getting involved. Meanwhile, Sammy’s nemesis, Heather, has a whole new devious plan to take down Sammy and make her the laughingstock of the school. Heather just might get away with it if Sammy can’t prove to others what Heather’s up to.