Not normally a mall rat, young Sammy Keyes somehow finds herself at the video arcade with her best friend one day, blowing off steam before the big junior-high softball tournament. Naturally, fans of this plucky girl detective will not be at all surprised to learn that this innocent outing winds up putting Sammy in the middle of another big, messy, dangerous mystery. In spite of her best intentions, our sleuth is soon exploring the seamy underbelly of her hometown, confronting gang members, pursuing a man with "hatred for eyes, steel for a mouth," and trying to take care of an abandoned infant -- all while remaining undercover at her grandmother's adults-only apartment complex. Newcomers and veterans of the Sammy Keyes mystery series will immediately take to this not-so-hard-boiled seventh-grade detective and her funny yet issue-laden adventures.
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by Wendelin Van Draanen
"The Sammy Keyes series keeps getting better and better. In the seventh title in the series, a frightened teen at a video arcade asks Samantha to hold a package for her. When the girl disappears, Sammy finds that she's now responsible for what's in the package--a baby! Tara Sands captures the youthful energy of the young sleuth and her best friend, Marissa, as they try to find the boy's mother while avoiding "Snake Eyes," the sociopathic gang member who is after the mom. Despite the light tone of Van Draanen's writing and Tara Sands's cheerfully cherubic performance, the book deals with hard issues--gangs, teen pregnancy, domestic abuse--and handles them with honesty. Sands maintains momentum as she shifts from Sammy and her classmates to Hispanic gang members, from the ill-tempered Officer Borsch to prying Mrs. Wedgwood. Sammy Keyes is a keeper--that is, if she survives junior high. S.E.S. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award (c) AudioFile 2003, Portland, Maine"
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