Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Kid Power: Sammy Keyes and the Night of Skulls

There are 14 (soon to be 15) Sammy Keyes stories, and I still love them.  In Wendelin Van Draanen's Sammy Keyes and the Night of Skulls, Sammy's adventures stay vaguely in the realm of the possible, and her problems vary between family issues, friend strife, junior high social catastrophes, and the criminal element that fuels the mysteries.  Sammy has changed some in the past year; her friend Casey is now her boyfriend, her willingness to hit back against her nemesis Heather has moved from a fist in the jaw to fighting a rumor blaze with fire, and her grandmother suddenly realizes that Sammy is really growing up.

The mystery floats along in the background for most of the book, as the kids spend most of the time on Halloween and the following holidays -- All Saint's Day, Day of the Dead.  The ramification of Halloween night ripple out just as Casey and her friends learn the pleasures of a graveyard picnic and even pause for some teen aged ruminations on death.  OK, things sometims come out a little too pat, either in a good way (her new relationship with Borsch) or in a bad way (Casey's crazy mother), but it's done with enough humor and solid characterization in the fore front that I don't mind at all.

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