Sammy Keyes and the Search for Snake Eyes

Sammy Keyes and the Search for Snake Eyes

by Wendelin Van Draanen, Wendelin Draanen


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"The most winning junior detective ever in teen lit. (Take that, Nancy Drew!)" —Midwest Children's Book Review

Sammy's softball team is in contention for the Junior Slugger's Cup, and all she wants to do is hunker down behind the home plate and catch strikes. But Heather Acosta brings new meaning to the term "foul ball" as she schemes to get Sammy kicked off the team.

Then Sammy is thrown a wild pitch by a frantic girl at the mall. The girl asks Sammy to watch her bag and dashes off before Sammy discovers that the bag she's left holding contains a baby! When the girl doesn't return, Sammy decides to go find her. A heart-pounding search ensues, and leads to some situations that are definitely not covered in the softball playbook.

The Sammy Keyes mysteries are fast-paced, funny, thoroughly modern, and true whodunits. Each mystery is exciting and dramatic, but it's the drama in Sammy's personal life that keeps readers coming back to see what happens next with her love interest Casey, her soap-star mother, and her mysterious father.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780440419006
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 04/08/2003
Series: Sammy Keyes Series , #7
Edition description: REPRINT
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 275,655
Product dimensions: 5.19(w) x 7.56(h) x 0.71(d)
Lexile: 650L (what's this?)
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

WENDELIN VAN DRAANEN was a classroom teacher for many years before becoming a full-time writer. The books in the Sammy Keyes mystery series have been embraced by critics and readers alike, with Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief receiving the Edgar Allan Poe Award for best children’s mystery. Wendelin is also the author of many award-winning novels, including Flipped, The Running Dream, Runaway, Confessions of a Serial Kisser, Swear to Howdy, The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones, and Wild Bird. You can find her online at and @WendelinVanD, and you can follow Sammy Keyes on Facebook.

Read an Excerpt


I don't generally hang out at the mall. It's full of biting shoes, shrinking clothes, and useless knickknacks. It's also crawling with poseur kids who think it's their private stage for rehearsing public coolness. Please. I get enough of that in junior high.

But the Santa Martina mall also has a video arcade, and if you know anything about my best friend, Marissa, you know that video games are the only thing that'll make her quit talking about softball. And since we're in the middle of gearing up for the Junior Sluggers' Cup tournament, softball is all Marissa's had on her mind. For weeks. She's working up plays, she's practicing after practice, she's even talked Coach Rothhammer out of her home phone number so she can run ideas by her in the middle of the night. You have to know Ms. Rothhammer to understand the significance of this—nobody's got her number, and I mean nobody. She teaches P.E. and eighth-grade science, and she's got a reputation for being really strict and really private. Like, is she married? We don't know. Does she have kids? Dogs? Horses? Flower beds? Nobody knows. I'll bet Vice Principal Caan doesn't even know, that's how good she is at being private.

What I do know about Ms. Rothhammer is that she's the one person who wants to bring home the Junior Sluggers' Cup as much as Marissa does. Probably for different reasons—like, I know Ms. Rothhammer couldn't care less about us winning the school a party day. More likely it has to do with showing up Mr. Vince, who told her she'd never get her hands on the cup. Of course, that was last November, after our team beat his team in our school's playoffs, so maybe she's forgotten all about that.

Then again, maybe not.

Anyway, the point is, Marissa McKenze has been the Softball Czar for weeks, and the past few days it's been driving me batty. And maybe I should've just said, "Marissa, enough! There's life beyond softball!" but I do live in Santa Martina, a town where everyone from Heather Acosta, Princess Prevaricator, to Mayor Hibbs, Sultan of City Hall, is into the game. So much so that people play year-round. Rain or shine, mud or flood, people play.

So instead of telling Marissa something she'd never buy into anyhow, what I said was "Hey, you want to go to the mall and play some video games?" And since I'm never the one to suggest it, she said, "Are you kidding?" and off we went.

Now, I'm not big on playing myself. I don't have the quarters to spare. So while Marissa's seriously invested in the skill of electro-badguy annihilation, I'm more an observer than anything else. Sure, I'll play a few games just to keep her happy, but pretty much I'm a peanut gallery of one.

Good as she is, though, I get bored and wind up looking around at other stuff. People, mostly. And let me tell you, there are some pretty strange people in the arcade. I'm not talking about the kids, either. They just strut around, cussing and stuff, acting like they'll take you down if you look at them wrong. Like they could actually catch you with the way they wear their pants halfway down their butts.

No, the adults are strange. It's men, mostly, and mostly they look the same—scraggly hair, faded band T-shirts, dirty jeans, and work boots. They come in alone, park themselves at the gun games, and shoot. They don't look at anyone or anything else, they just shoot. And good luck cutting in if you want a turn. I've seen kids try it, and let me tell you, it's dangerous.

Anyway, there I was, at four in the afternoon, surrounded by the noise of electro-fire, checking out the arcade clientele, when this girl with a big red-and-white Sears bag backs right into me. Hard.

Does she say, Sorry? Or, Excuse me? Or even turn around and look at me?


She whimpers, "Jesus! Oh, Jesus!" and drags that bag in close, between her feet. Her eyes are glued to the arcade entrance, and she's shaking. First it's just sort of a shiver, then a rumble; then she starts having her very own internal earthquake.

"What's the matter?" I ask her, but she still doesn't turn around to look at me. She just paws through her Sears bag and rearranges a yellow towel that's on top, then weaves the bag's cord handles together, shaking the whole time.

I look between the two video games we're standing in front of so I can get a clear shot of the entrance, but all I see is a bunch of people milling around outside.

This girl is melting down about something, though, so I say to her, "Are you all right?"

"No! Oh Jesus, no!" She turns to me, her eyes full of terror. "What am I going to do? He'll kill me! He'll kill us both!"

"Who?" And I'm thinking, Whoa, now! Why would he want to kill me?

She doesn't answer. She just stays behind cover while she checks out the entrance.

"Do you want me to call the police?"

"No!" She turns back to me, looking even more scared than she had before. "No!"


"Whatever you do..." Her shaking goes up a notch. "Oh Jesus, there he is!"


"Right over there!" she says, looking out into the halls of the mall. Only there are about thirty people roaming around out there. "Oh Jesus, what am I going to do? What am I going to do?"

"If you're that scared, why don't you let me call the police?"

She whirls around and says, "No! You hear me! They mess everything up. They put him away and now he's out! He's gonna kill me!"

"But if he's going to kill you..."

"Oh Jesus, here he comes." She looks around frantically. "Is there a back door to this place?"

I shake my head.

"How am I going to get out of here?" She goes back to looking outside, practically shaking herself to death.

Then I see him. I can just tell. It's the way he's walking. Slow, but, I don't know...tight. Like every step is for a reason and nothing better get in his way.

Customer Reviews

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Sammy Keyes and the Search for Snake Eyes 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My absolute fave Sammy Keyes book. I've read it over a billion times! A must read book! For about my age of thirteen and older :)
Michelle Oneill More than 1 year ago
This is probly my favorite sammy keyes book!!! A MUST READ!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was AWESOME!! I couldn't stop reading it!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am addicted to these books. If you want a great novel or mystery pick up a Sammy Keys today! It gets you HOOKED! And no, there is no bad one...they are all good...I don't have a's too hard to choose!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this book down! The suspence was killing me to find out what happened--snake eyes, pepe and the girl made Sammy look like a hero!
Guest More than 1 year ago
WOW!!!! You have done it again Sammy Keys!!! You amaze me every time!!! Keep it up!!!
liga1996 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
such a fun book i love it i would diffinetly read it again. i often crave reading another but i already read the whol series and im trying to read different books
curioussquared on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I remember being thrilled when I got the first book in this series for Christmas one year. Unfortunately, Sammy Keyes went downhill fast. This one (the 5th book in the series, I believe?) is just boring.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not good enough for a whole five stars, but it was pretty good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My son, who is 11, and I love this series of books. This one tackles some difficult social issues, teen pregnancy and gangs, all in the context of a mystery. The young heroine has some life challenges of her own which makes her pluckiness all the more admirable. She does take some risks you wouldn't want your own child taking, but I found it gave my son and I a chance to talk about the risky choices and alternate choices a real person could make to be safe and still do help a person in trouble like the heroine strives to do. We can't wait to read every book in the series. Sometimes after he's fallen asleep, I just have to read ahead!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not the best book of the seiries but deffenatly interesting
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a must read so much suspense.about Snake Eyes and Lena (sorry 4 spoiler) a great book!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think sammy is actually a real hard core detective! In this mystery she gets herself into seriously dangerous situation like almost getting shot! The author did help us readers to understand how some peoples lives are in certain places though. I truely admire sammy because if l were in her place l wouldnt ever have half the courage and selflessness as sammy keyes always does. I wish her luck on her mysteries to come! (Even though l know she wont need it;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This has got to be the best Sammy Keyes book yet. I love Sammy Keyes, I've read all of them.The story keeps you wondering what will happen next. I recommened this for everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
These are my favorite books of all time. I have read the whole series over three times. If i heard right there is supposed to be another book coming out this summer. Eeeeeeekkkkkkkkkkk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am sooooooooooooo excited!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nella i can still chat with u on the nook i am going to the libary
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spongy36 More than 1 year ago
Was the best book so far!! I could not believe the ending! Im not telling... :)
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