Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sammy Disturbs The Universe

Did you know that Sammy Keyes has disturbed the universe?


Tonight I have some pictures to share. (Not of dresses--this is way better!)

Nancy (my editor) sent me some pictures of a recent display at the New York Public Library. Here's the first one:

Her message was...

There's a fab exhibit of the history of kids books and part of it is a display of all the books that have "disturbed the universe".  All the great books that people have tried to ban or suppress. 

Then came the next picture message with, Can you see it yet?

And the next picture, zoomed in some more with a See it now?

Finally, the one below appeared, with the message, Smack in the middle! (Which is where Sammy Keyes always seems to find herself, isn't it?)

I got super excited. I mean, the display is fantastic and having my book as part of it was a real gift. And naturally, I started studying all the titles, finding Sammy's place in this disturbing universe. 

It was seven straight up from To Kill A Mockingbird!
Two up and one over from The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe! 
It was supporting the edge of Huckleberry Finn
And, uh, three down from Everyone Poops
(Which is supporting The Diary of Anne Frank?)

After dissembling the titles for a while I started what ways has Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief disturbed the universe? 

Was it the nose punch heard around the world?

Was it something more philosophical?

Then I started wondering...if I had to choose a Sammy Keyes title to place in this display, would it be Hotel Thief? Is there a more universe-disturbing title in the series?

So that's my question to you this week: Pick a Sammy to slip into this display. I'll tell you right here that for me it's Kiss Goodbye. That's cheating, I know, but it sure has disturbed (and continues to disturb) my universe. But since you can't debate it (yet) or agree with me (yet), which other Sammy would you slip into this display?

As always, thanks for checking in.  Looking forward to seeing you in the comments!



Jessica said...

Wait, someone tried to ban or suppress Hotel Thief? For me, it would probably be Moustache Mary or Snake Eyes, because when my friends' daughters are reading Nancy Drew in elementary, and I start talking up Sammy Keyes, I feel like I need to do a bit of a disclaimer about those books, since the topics are a bit "mature" (though they're handled in a really age-appropriate way for middle-schoolers).

If it's just "rocked my world," I think it would be Hotel Thief, because it started it all.

Jessica said...

P.S. In case Karen checks in here, check your e-mail! Or leave a message with your address on my blog (I won't publish it) so we can get you your copy of Justice Jack. Otherwise I'm going to have to keep it...

Yusa said...

Jessica: I agree with MM and Snake Eyes. I also think Sin City was a big one. It just had so much going on and so many things were resolved that had been taken through a big part of the series. I could list so many but the last one i am going to say is Wild Things.


Kylie said...

The first one that came to mind was Sin City because it had the moment that we had been waiting for for years. But I would also have to say Snake Eyes because that one is one if my favorite. I still can't get over the cement and wheelbarrow part because it is genius. Probably the best way to tie someone up that I have ever heard of.

Have a great week everyone!


Kylie said...

I am now wondering what others books are on there. I am hoping Socks is on there and there has to be some Magic Treehouse books as well. And hopefully some Cam Jansen because she was my start in mystery books. Oh and hopefully the Penderwicks!

I think I might look this up and see if I can find a list of books in it.

Caradith Craven said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WENDELIN!!! Thanks for writing books that not only "disturbed the universe" but have left footprints on the hearts of countless readers.

Sio said...

Hi everyone!

Does anyone have Ms. Van Draanen's fan mail address? I work with a middle school student who would love to send a letter about Sammy Keyes, but I'm having trouble locating a current address for her to use. Thanks in advance for any info!

As for universe disturbing levels of awesomeness, for me it would have to be Sammy Keyes and the Sisters of Mercy. I love all the books, but the Sisters will always be my favorite for making me roar with laughter in the middle of a dead silent library.

Gabrielle said...

I would also have to agree with Moustache Mary and Snake Eyes as well. I'm surprised they picked Hotel Thief.

Have a good week everybody!


Yusa said...

Yes!Happy Birthday Wendelin! I hope you have an amazing day!

And @Sio: her email is


Gabrielle said...

Happy Birthday, Wendelin! Hope your day is fantastic!


Kylie said...

Happy Birthday Wendelin! I saw the teapot you got for your birthday on twitter and it is so pretty! I love the colors of it!

Jessica said...

Happy Birthday, Wendelin! I hope you enjoyed it as much as Sammy enjoyed her 14th.

Karen said...


I’m away from the Internet for five days and the small part of it devoted to Sammy Keyes explodes?

Wendelin, I love that Kiss Goodbye cover! And I am so looking forward to reading the book!

Jessica, your e-mail did make it through! I just sent you a reply--thank you so much! :-)

I think what disturbs the universe and what someone would want to ban are two different things.

The most universe-disturbing for me was Moustache Mary, because of that scene at the party where you have high schoolers and middle schoolers smoking and drinking. I knew some high schoolers smoked pot or cigarettes or drank alcohol, but I’d never thought of middle schoolers getting into it.

I think I would most expect Snake Eyes to be there, because it has teen pregnancy and domestic abuse and the psychology of kids joining gangs.

The second one I would expect is Moustache Mary, because of the meth and the party and I dunno, maybe the single mother traveling West? But then you have Sammy recognize the Edge of the World, and how it’s maybe more of a slope, which would give kids some tools to deal with it, should it ever come up for them. That’s probably enough to defuse the situation and keep people from banning it.

I’m trying to imagine why someone would want to ban Hotel Thief. All I can come up with is the non-negative portrayal of astrology. Which is pretty likely what happened, actually.

I could also imagine someone trying to ban Night of Skulls, because of all the different cultural ways of looking at death, and the showing of a dead body--naked! gasp!--and maybe Dusty Mike’s talking about the spirits.

I would probably put in Runaway ahead of any of the Sammy Keyes books, actually.

If you want the one that rocked my world Sammy-wise, it would be Sin City, because suddenly I wanted to know more story than would fit into the Sammy series! (And Kiss Goodbye will rock it again, because all of a sudden there will be no more Sammy series.)

Dude, who tried to ban Surviving the Applewhites? Love that book!

Oh, and Wendelin: Happy birthday! :-) (I see you replying like Elvis over there!)

Kylie said...

When I first read Moustache Mary I wasn't shocked about the high schoolers and middle schoolers drinking because where I live kids smoke and drink in high school and some in middle school. In fact there are few people that I know in high school that don't smoke pot and I hate that. It is me, my close friends and a few others that don't, but almost everyone else does.

Renita said...

Definitely Mustache Mary so much stuff was happening in that book and of course it's my fav. Like Kylie said it wasnt shocking it was just real. And i think the books that are closer to the truth are the ones people pay the most attention to.

Karen said...

Kylie and Renita, completely agree on the reality (real-ness?) of the books. It's one of the things I appreciate most.

Lauren-Lauren said...

I say that Sammy Keyes and the Wild Things disturbed my universe probuably because I got in trouble for reading it a total of 50 times ( I kid you not ) its my favorite.