Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Fickle Fickle Fiction Fan

I love a good mystery. As a kid, I loved Harriet the Spy, The Mixed-Up Files of Ms. Basil E. Frankweiler, Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden and my favorite boy sleuth, Encyclopedia Brown. Mystery is a tricky genre, but when an author proves they can master the beast, readers will follow them anywhere! When my oldest son devoured all the Encyclopedia Browns in one summer, and read all the A-Z mysteries (from A to Z!), I knew we needed some new gumshoes. We've covered serious ground, but there is one super sleuth who deserves today's spotlight because she has captured my attention in a big way and I know little me would have loved her as much as big me does. (And my sons love her too, which is saying something when you can appeal to both boys and girls!)

Who is this girl wonder you ask?

Sammy Keyes! She is sassy, adventurous, intrepid and smart. She will get the job done and you (even as an adult) will not solve this one! I read the first book (in the wee hours of the night) over Christmas break and loved it. It twists and turns with plot and sub-plots galore.This past Memorial Day weekend I checked the audio book out at the library and we listened to the CDs in the car- two hours up and two hours back. A test of the crime-solving abilities of the men in my life. As we pulled into the parking lot of the Pasadena Islands, after a completely mesmorized vehicle of five made it's way back through the Memorial Day traffic (starving for lunch), the last CD revealed Sammy's mystery's solution. (Picture me squealing with delight as my husband picked a red herring as the ending). No one saw it coming.

Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief is the first in the series of ten books. Wendeline Van Drannan won the prestigious Edgar award for this first installation and it is well-deserved. I can't wait to see what else she has in store in books 2-10. This morning at breakfast, my oldest son was reading chapter nine of the second book and left for school this morning with it tucked in his backpack. I think he's hooked too! 

While reading Sammy, something sort of random dawned on me. As a kid, I loved that Encyclopedia Brown always solved the mystery and did it all on foot, walking all over Idaville to get his man. I could do what Encyclopedia does, couldn't I? All I need is a garage office and someone willing to plunk a quarter into the gas can so I can solve their case. Nancy Drew, on the other hand, needed her little blue convertible, and by extension, a driver's license and the ripe old age driving requires. Sammy and Encyclopedia were far from driving, a skateboard or a bike would be the best mode of transport they could dream up, and yet no crime was impossible to solve, nothing was out of reach. For this reason alone, three cheers for Sammy and non-driving girls everywhere who have mystery dragons to slay. And what girl doesn't, right?