Wendelin Van Draanen

Once, during a long-ago NPR interview, I listened to an Amazon.com employee blithely recommending Wendelin Van Draanen's Sammy Keyes mysteries to the parent of a five-year-old. Um… no. (Unless you’re up for explaining teenage pregnancy, drug addiction, and dangerously irresponsible parenting to your kindergartener. If that’s the case, hey, go for it.) Van Draanen writes complicated, nuanced mysteries that feature a wee bit of romance and star a likable and intelligent heroine, but she never sugarcoats Sammy’s many sad and/or creepy adventures.

Note: I’m really impressed by the way Van Draanen handles pre-teen romance. Both the Sammy Keyes books and Van Draanen's stand-alone novel Flipped feature heroines that aren’t willing to changer their behavior in order to nab a boyfriend. I cannot tell you what a refreshing change this is from the majority of books written for girls.

None thus far, although I live in dread of the day when Disney buys the rights to the Sammy Keyes books and turns them into a pale, saccharine shadow of their former selves.

Everywhere, and almost all in paperback. Look in the kids’ section for the Sammy Keyes books and the young adult section for Flipped.

Other Recommendations:
Anything by Gail Carson Levine

Buffalo Brenda, by Jill Pinkwater
Posted by: Julia


The Angry Carrot
The Angry Carrot
24 Apr, 2007 04:11 AM @ version 0

I love the Sammy Keyes series, although I wish the books came out faster. Also, the standalone title "Runaway" actually deals with a minor character from the Sammy Keyes books!

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