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Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief (Sammy Keyes #1)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  4,688 Ratings  ·  399 Reviews
With this debut book of a new mystery series, Wendelin Van Draanen establishes Samantha Keyes as a crime fighter to watch. Though, actually, the book opens with Sammy watching...a crime in progress. And when theman with the wad of cash in one hand and the open purse in the other catches Sammy watching him, the chase is on--but is Sammy on the trail of the thief, or is he o ...more
ebook, 0 pages
Published September 9th 2003 by Yearling Books (first published April 14th 1998)
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Arielle Walker
May 2016: So it took me a while to get back around to this but so, so glad I did. Just as good as I remembered - great little plot twists, fantastic lead characters and surprisingly plausible storyline, and despite the rather huge age gap (pretty sure this is both for and about 12 year olds) I really enjoyed reading it again.

Jan 2016: Haven't read this in nearly a decade (scary thought, that) and remember the series as being really great, might give it another go and who cares if it's "too young
Edit: I just read some of the reviews and I'm a little disappointed. Sammy does tell a lie or two in the book, but let's be honest: didn't you tell a lie once in a while when you were a kid. And tell me a book in which the character was absolutely perfect that you still love to the day. Sammy's lying is what we call a flaw and it's part of what makes her such an interesting character. The thing that bugs me the most about the reviews I just read, however, is that those of you upset about her lyi ...more
Dec 13, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kids_and_ya, mystery
Thirteen-year-old Sammy, who lives illegally at her grandmother’s “seniors only” apartment sees a crime committed while she’s looking through her binoculars—and the thief sees her. Booktalk: Sammy Keyes’ life is already crazy. She’s living illegally with her grandma in a seniors-only apartment complex while her mother tries to find an acting job out in California. While looking through her binoculars at the “seedy hotel” across the road—when her grandma has specifically told her NOT to be she se ...more
Jul 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, mystery
Sammy Keyes mystery series, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways--well, I CAN'T because you are so WONDERFULLY AMAZING. I want to put every book in your whole dang series on my favorites shelf, but I know I shouldn't because that would be excessive. But here are just a few of the things I love about you:

I love how Sammy, 12 year-old solver of small town crimes, never wastes time worrying about how pretty or thin she is, despite being in the high-peer-pressure world of middle school. Her app
Ashley Greene
Sammy Keyes is a middle-school girl living illegally with her grandmother in a seniors-only high-rise in California. Her mother is away trying to make it as a Hollywood actress. One afternoon, trying to occupy her time, she gets out her grandmother’s binoculars and starts scanning neighboring buildings – and becomes a witness to a burglary in the Heavenly Hotel! There are a series of burglaries in the neighborhood, and Sammy just spotted the latest one. When the burglar catches sight of Sammy wa ...more
Sarah BT
Dec 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sammy Keyes is a Nancy Drew for a new generation. She's smart, funny, and very sassy with lots of spunk. Sammy has a temper and she's not always going to follow the rules, but that's part of her charm. Sammy will let you know what she thinks!

There's more than just mystery in the story. Sammy has to deal with a school bully and she learns to stick up for herself. She also is living (illegally) with her grandmother since her mother left to become an actress and Sammy has to sneak through the apart
Oct 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A good word to describe this book would be suspenseful. The author does an excellent job of creating suspense. Suspense was a huge strength to this book and it leaves the reader wanting to know what will happen next in the book. This mystery has a few twists and isn't easily solvable for the reader or for Sammy, which will keep reader interested. One weakness of the book was description such as the author could've used more description to the setting but that didn't affect the book a lot. The ch ...more
Oct 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book, not as much as Gilda Joyce, but it was cute. Intially I thought that Stacy lived in new york, then later realized she lived in a very neat little town with a school on school st. and a church on church st. One thing though is that it seemed dated. There is talk about her wanting a new walkman... in 1998. I think that should of been a discman. And how the police seem to have no grasp of CPS or databases. Oh you know that guys Parol officer has been looking for him, but a 7th ...more
Sep 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All of the Sammy Keyes books are excellent. This is the spunkiest 13 year I've come across and I've enjoyed reading about her middle school problems, the friendships she makes with all kinds of people, the mysteries that are sometimes quite scary that she takes head on, etc. I've had to read late into the night because I can't put these books down. It is important to read them in order as her character grows and the storyline progresses. Language is smart, action is fast, characters are great.
Mar 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sammy Keyes is a 13-year-old squatting at her grandma's seniors-only housing and putting the local police department to shame. Sammy is not a paragon of virtue herself, but her temper and expedient view of the virtues of truth-telling make her a more believable character. I liked this one - the 5th graders I read it with were less impressed.
Feb 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-favorites
4.5 This was So great!! Loved the characters, especially Sammy, who is my favorite character of all time, and Marissa and Grams!! Such a great mystery and the writing style was great. Can't wait to re-read some more!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jul 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was engaging. The plot line was good and the resolution satisfying. Other reviewers compared the series to Nancy Drew. To me, the writing is more Harriet the Spy. I will pick up more in the series from the library and would recommend it to young readers.
Sep 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, childrens
Really enjoyed this series in elementary/middle school.
Jan 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who loves mysteries!
great book, really cool
Nadia Duran
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Do you like reading mystery books about crime? If you do, than this is the book for you! This book is called "Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief." This genre is fiction, because it's a made up story. In my opinion, I really liked this book because I love mystery books, especially about crime with surprising endings like this one.

As Sammy Keyes lives in her Grandmas apartment, she loves looking out the window and watching people with her binoculars, even though her grandma says that those binocular
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Flew threw this. I've read a few books from the series before when I was younger. Basically, I had lots of fun reading this and felt nostalgic. The book was shorter compared to other books of the series but it was still good. I liked seeing how the heather and Sammy arch nemesis relationship started. I forgot Sammy had a crush on Brandon and overall I forgot how young Sammy was. I also figured out who did it way early but it was nice. Anyway, I don't have a lot to say because this was a quick re ...more
Brandy Pittman
This is an entertaining mystery with a strong female protagonist and non-traditional family dynamics. Today's kids may not be able to relate to some of the details like corded phones! I found myself saying, "Just take a video with your phone!"
May 08, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun book
A kind of strange mix of seeming too young for slightly more mature subject matter, or implied subject matter. I'm not really sure who the audience is supposed to be. I'm going to have my 8 yo who loves mysteries read it and see what she thinks.
Melissa Namba
kind of like Harriet the spy meets ramona. an energetic little girl, illegally raised by her grandmother who unintentionally gets into a lot of trouble. mixed in with natural curiosity aided by binoculars. I didn't love it, but kids probably will.
Yuna C.
Nov 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book so much! It had a lot of action and was very exciting. I would highly recommend it, and would definitely read this book again!
Hanne T
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: series, 2017-read
I hadn't heard about this series before! It's cool!
Sharon Buxton
C. children's fiction, middle grades, mystery, contemporary
Feb 11, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
W/ fifth graders
Stacy Mozer
Mar 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade
This series has been on my reading list for a while and I'm glad I finally got around to reading it. Sammy is a spirited main character. I can see why middle graders enjoy these books. Time to get some for my classroom!
Jasmine Duong
It's been a while since I read a mystery series.

I am surprised I actually enjoyed this book. I read another series by this author and I loved her writing style and her books. My older sister told me to read this series because it's soooo good. I declined. I refuse to read anything that my sister recommends BECAUSE we have such different taste. And forward, 3 years later, and I'm actually reading this book. It's not the first I've done this. For example, in first grade, my old
Barbara Schultz
I enjoyed this cute middle school novel. Gotta love that Sammy Keyes. This novel is the winner of the "Edgar Award for Best Children's Mystery".

Although I enjoyed it, I was a bit disappointed that the one police officer was such a bully. I would rather have a police office that kids can turn to for help. Did love the relationship between Sammy and Granny. I am a retired high school guidance counselor, I once had a student write her college essay on the bond formed when her grandmother taught he
Ty Kriese
Sep 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Samantha, “Sammy” Keyes is a feisty 13 year old who lives with her grandmother in an apartment designated for retirees only because her mom is off pursuing a Hollywood career. At home one day, a bored Samantha trains her binoculars on the world outside and witnesses a robbery in the hotel across the street. She can't call 911 because the authorities might discover that she is living with Gram. Instead, she waves at the thief. The burglar spots her right back, setting in motion a headlon
Apr 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-ya
Samantha (Sammy) Keyes needs to live on the down low in her grandmother's government subsidized elderly person's residence on a city block. Her father, who knows, her mother, left her a year ago and is off looking for a big acting break in Hollywood. (Haven't we heard that one before?)
Needing to stay inside a lot has lead her to using her grandmother's binoculars to watch the comings and goings in the neighborhood. Then one day she spies a man taking money out of a woman's purse on the 4th floor
Angela Juline
Apr 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author does a fantastic job of creating mysteries...Sammy is super smart and a great role-model for young readers. I've even gotten some 5th grade boys to read the series!
Lauren Gonzalez
I love the Sammy Keyes series and this particular genre (Mystery) is my favorite. In this specific book, Sammy secretly lives with her grandmother in a ‘seniors only’ apartment complex. She’s not allowed to make much noise, so she passes the time spying on her neighbors with binoculars. One morning she is looking into the windows of the hotel across the street, when she spots a thief taking things from one of the rooms. Instead of calling the police, Sammy watches until the thief catches her sta ...more
Oct 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This middle grade title made me regret not being a reader pre-college. The Sammy Keyes books came out right when I would have loved them, and for whatever reason (see: the MegaMan Battle Network series for Game Boy Advance), the two of us passed like ships in the night.

For a book written almost twenty years ago, 'Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief' holds up surprisingly well. The sections where we're made aware that this is a nineties title are either inconsequential (Sammy needs a payphone at one
I cruised through this book and read it in a couple hours so I could help Audrey (8) with her book report. She had to read a mystery for the month of October. This was a perfect mystery. Not to hard to decipher, but challenging enough. The clue to who the bad guy was was dropped pretty early on, and I can't say if I would have picked it up or not because Audrey told me who the thief was before I read it.
Anyway, the only thing that bothered me in the book was all the smoking. The main character w
Camy Smith
Sep 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sammy Keyes and the Hotel thief is book i would definately recommend for readers who love mysteries and good laugh. This story is about a 7th grade girl who lives with her "gram" in an elderly complex, when she really isnt suppose to. One day, Sammy was looking from her grandma's window. And she saw something very strange. It seemed to be a somewhat elderly man digging through a womens purse in a hotel room across the street. Throughout the story you learn how smart Sammy is. Towards the end, Sa ...more
Aug 12, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kiddo
I read this book aloud with my son and we enjoyed the antics that Sammy got into. It opens the conversation for things that seem right and how they can be wrong, etc. I also liked the adult characters and the untraditional models of Sammy's grandmother and friends parents. I believe that you don't necessarily need to have a traditional family model or a picture perfect family to be loved. This is one of the first mysteries we've read together and I wasn't sure we'd like it, but we both enjoyed t ...more
Raghav Batra
Aug 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is very interesting because the person who you would not think is actually the person who is behind all the crime. Sammy Keyes is a girl who solves mysteries. As Sammy gets complaints from people in the hotel, that someone has been stealing their money, she goes on the search to find who it is. As the book goes on Sammy narrows the hotel thief down by getting certain clues. When she finds out who it is she is amazed at first, but then she understands and sees the robber in progress. Af ...more
Sep 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief by Wendelin Van Draanen is about Sammy, a 7th grader who lives illegally with her grandmother. When Sammy sees a thief through her binoculars, she is thrown into a world of chaos and worry, while still having to cope with junior high. Sammy people watches, avoids the cops and enjoys plenty of double dynamos in this incredible novel.
Van Draanen has written a stunning novel. The book is written in such a way that I can visualize every chapter of it in my mind. The m
This is the first book about Sammy Keyes, and how she accidentally gets involved in the investigation of a robbery because she witnessed it through her telescope. This story highlights the struggle of witnessing something wrong being done, and choosing to find justice, especially when you didn't choose to witness the wrong-doing! The mystery in this book is page-turning and Sammy is relatable, so I believe this book would be a good addition to a classroom library.

Interest Level: 4-8
Reading Level
Shane Allen
Jun 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sammy Keyes is always getting into mischief. In this book she is looking out from her Gram's old folk's home and spying on people after she told her not to. She then finds a man ransacking a purse and it's later discovered that he has stolen $4,000! She is on a chase to find the thief and get the money in order to save the justice in the neighborhood. Sammy goes on a puzzling mysterious adventure once again as she unfolds the truth.

I recommend this book to all grades because the context is for e
May 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had never heard of this series until I went to a local bookstore in Greenville, SC for a boon signing. This series is usually intended for a younger audience, but I throughly enjoyed the book! After reading the book, I feel as if it's a book for any age. You audience would love it because of the 7th grade character, but it's entertaining enough for teenagers and adults alike. It's difficult not to fall in love with the curious protagonists. Sammy's the type of character you wish had have been ...more
Feb 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I did not start the Sammy Keyes series at the beginning. I was afraid reading them out of order would be confusing, but it really wasn't. Sammy is an adventurous tomboy who has a knack for getting into trouble. She lies to a police officer about where she lives, she gets suspended from school on the first day, and she waves to a burglar! Even though she doesn't always make the best decisions she still manages to solve a mystery and find some down time with her best friend Marissa. If you like ac ...more
Apr 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fantastic book. Quick, easy, hilarious read. There are a ton of books in this series. These are found in the children's section at our library. Pretty appropriate for all ages. My older teen son started reading this series and is already on book 6. He was laughing out loud so much that I decided to go head and read the first one. Sammy may remind you of your own child (ha ha!) and you can't help but smile at her curiosity and wit. A fun little mystery. I have started book two to see wh ...more
My paperback has the cover with her looking through the binoculars that only shows up here as for the audio and ebook editions. Anyways, I love Flipped, so I go in figuring I'll enjoy this for what it is.

Finshed: That is a fun book. Sammy is a wonderful protagonist. She's imperfect in a spunky way, but lovable and good. The characters and relationships make this book. The mystery of the hotel thief is fun, but Sammy's family situation, friends, and jr. high troubles mixed with the mystery make t
Sammy Keyes, Sammy Keyes… what don’t I have to say about you?
Basically, this book series is amazing. It’s aimed at 11-12 year olds.
But, also. Come on. Mystery solving teen.
So: backdrop Santa Martina, CA, where Sammy Keyes lives after her mom dumped her at her grandmother’s so she could run off to become a famous actress (her mom, not Sammy. darn modifiers). So what does any 13-year-old girl do when thrown into this situation?
Solve crimes, of course.
This first book opens with Sammy, trapped
Nov 15, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this series throughout middle school and high school and really enjoyed it and wanted to reread a couple of the books to see what current me thought of them. Conclusion, I still like them, although I don't think I'm going to pick back up where I stopped in 2008 and finish the series (probably. I might change my mind).

One of my big reasons for liking these books is just that I think Sammy herself is an amazing character. Part of that probably has to do with how much I felt connected to her
Title: Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief
Author: Draanen, Wendelin Van

Tired of the old fashion mystery books where it revels or gives hints in almost very end of the book? Well is time for a change, Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief
Is a young adult’s mystery novel written by Draanen, Wendelin Van. Sammy Keyes is a new detective in the town; her reckless, but friendly; crazy, but nice personalities will take you into a whole different kind of mysterious adventure!
In the Sammy Keyes series, this boo
Jul 01, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was afraid this was going to be an entrant in the (too) Cute and (too) Precocious Child Detective category, and while it came close and trots out some standard issue cliches in the MG/YA world, it did end up charming entertaining me and I have checked out another in the series.

The story is narrated in the first person by the Sammy Keyes of the title. She - yes, she -- is smart, humorous, mischievous, a tad sarcastic, a bit of a near loner. This could be the profile of dozens of other Child De
Nov 21, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Another meh! Maybe walking up and down the shelves of the library and picking out books at random isn't working out so well for me. This is the first in a series of mystery books written for kids. I was really hoping it would be good because, now that I'm done with H Pot and Lemony, I need a new series in my life. Sadly, this one will not be it.

This book centered on a girl, Sammy. She is trying to figure out who stole some money from the hotel across the street from her grandma's senior residenc
Claire Vanderlaan
This book is about a girl named Sammy Keyes. Her mother, Lana Keyes (or Lady Lana), abandoned her when she was 5 to her Grams. Lady Lana then left for Hollywood to become an actress. Sammy is now twelve, almost thirteen, and is starting seventh grade at William Rose Junior High, with her friends, Marissa and Dot, meeting her archenemy, Heather Acosta. Heather makes fun of Sammy's high-tops and then tries to get Marissa to give her money and sticks Sammy in the bottom with a pushpin. But suddenly ...more
Jun 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I Scream, You Scream: Lockwood & Co. Jonathan Stroud’s Lockwood and Co. Book 1: The Screaming Staircase is a great mix of mystery and ghost story. Boasting an opinionated and talented heroine, Lucy Carlyle, who could be Sammy Keyes British cousin, this story is set in a world where ghosts (called Visitors) have taken over the night and wrought havoc all over London. Of course, only children can see and therefore fight these Visitors. As the book opens, we find Lucy recounting her time at Loc ...more
Kaite Janicki
Sep 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: my peers
Recommended to Kaite by: my mom
Sammy Keyes and the hotel thief

By: Wendelin Van draanen

My free choice book was very entertaining and kept me wanting to pick up my book, or never put it down. Sammy the main character of my book was in to spying on the fancy hotel across the street from her apartment. One days she was looking into the window of the hotel named "heavenly hotel" and saw a man stealing money and jewlery from a hotel room and she looked away because she saw him look right at her...she was caught! When she looked bac
Margaret Behr
Mar 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grades
I frequently recommend Sammy Keyes to young adults, so I figured it was time to re-read this story. I remember her as a cooler Nancy Drew, and I was not wrong. Sammy is the girl next door, with sharp wit and a unique background. Her sleuthing tales are engaging are give readers room to critically ponder various solutions before giving away the answer.

Favorite quote(s): "I wish I'd had a friend like you when I was growing up, Samantha Keyes."
Ashley Martin
Sep 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief by Wendelin Van Draanen was a good book and I would recommend it to anyone! The book is about a girl who always uses her binoculars and her Grams always told her that she is going to get in trouble. One day she was looking around in the binoculars and sees someone robing someones hotel room at Heavily Hotel. The person stole $4,000. The thing was,when she watching him through the binoculars, he was watching her too.
Jack Tracy
Mar 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief was a very fun book to read. One sunny day Sammy was over to her grandmothers apartment. She was pretty board so she decided to take her new binoculars that she got for her birthday. She was looking around when she saw a flash going by a hotel window. She focuses her binoculars and sees a man going thorough a woman's purse. The man then looks up and sees her standing there looking in on him. She panaches and drops the binoculars and waves at him. Will sammy find t ...more
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What's The Name o...: YA teen girl solving crime spending time on roof of city apartment [s] 25 524 Dec 03, 2016 09:16PM  
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Wendelin Van Draanen has written more than thirty novels for young readers and teens. She is the author of the 18-book Edgar-winning Sammy Keyes series, and wrote Flipped which was named a Top 100 Children’s Novel for the 21st Century by SLJ, and became a Warner Brothers feature film with Rob Reiner directing. Her novel The Running Dream was awarded ALA’s Schneider Family Award for its portrayal o ...more
More about Wendelin Van Draanen...

Other Books in the Series

Sammy Keyes (1 - 10 of 18 books)
  • Sammy Keyes and the Skeleton Man (Sammy Keyes, #2)
  • Sammy Keyes and the Sisters of Mercy (Sammy Keyes, #3)
  • Sammy Keyes and the Runaway Elf (Sammy Keyes, #4)
  • Sammy Keyes and the Curse of Moustache Mary (Sammy Keyes, #5)
  • Sammy Keyes and the Hollywood Mummy (Sammy Keyes, #6)
  • Sammy Keyes and the Search for Snake Eyes (Sammy Keyes, #7)
  • Sammy Keyes and the Art of Deception (Sammy Keyes, #8)
  • Sammy Keyes and the Psycho Kitty Queen (Sammy Keyes, #9)
  • Sammy Keyes And the Dead Giveaway (Sammy Keyes, #10)
  • Sammy Keyes and the Wild Things (Sammy Keyes, #11)

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