Book Discussion Series: Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief

***JUST SO YOU KNOW*** All of the posts in our book discussion series contain questions and reviews that could possibly reveal parts of the plot you may rather discover by reading the book.  Proceed with caution!***

The Book Discussion Series enhances the reading experience by providing a list of interpretive questions compiled by librarians of the Cleveland Heights University Heights Public Library.

Reserve a copy of SAMMY KEYES AND THE HOTEL THIEFÂ

Brief Synopsis from the catalog:  “Thirteen-year-old Sammy’s penchant for speaking her mind gets her in trouble when she involves herself in the investigation of a robbery at the “seedy” hotel across the street from the seniors’ building where she is living with her grandmother.”

Here’s a confession: I’ve never read this book.  I’ve actually never cracked any of the now ten books in the series, which represents half of the planned saga.  So who has read it?  I think mysteries are a hard genre for children’s authors.  There are a lot of detective stories we know: Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Cam Jansen, Nate the Great,and to a lesser extent Einstein Anderson and the Three Investigators.  But what about novels?  Stories that are about the characters and the plot and setting perhaps even more than the crime being perpetrated.  Here we have Harriet the Spy, Enola Holmes (have you read these yet?), and….I’m kind of drawing a blank.  There are thriller mysteries, like Harry Potter, the Found series by Margaret Peterson Haddix.  I think the novel that sets all aspects in perfect balance is The Westing Game.  A perfect balance of quirky characters, a slowly unfolding mystery, and a fortune at stake. What makes a good mystery for you?

 
Discussion Questions
  • Is this a mystery?  What makes a mystery a mystery?
  • What makes a good mystery?
  • What kinds of red herrings do you come across in this book?
  • What is Oscar’s motive?
  • Who are the suspects?
  • What are the clues?
  • There are a lot of secrets and lies in this book.  What are some of them?  The BIG secret?
  • Why do you think the author gave many of the people in this book double (even triple) identities?
  • Do you think that the adults are portrayed realistically?  Why or why not?  Are some adults portrayed more realistically than others?
  • Which characters did you think were the most interesting?  What makes an interesting character?
  • Who or what in the book did you want to know more about?
  • Sammy has separate areas of her life: her life with Grams, her life at school, her life as a detective.  Was this effective in this book?  Are there any other lives that Sammy has?
  • Why does the author include the animosity with Heather in the book?
  • What did you think about the way that Sammy gets even with Heather?
  • Why do you think Grams is doing the embroidery with the cowboy boots on it?  Why does she seem to want to hide it?
  • Would you describe Sammy as a liar?  She does seem to lie a lot.  She lied to the police officer when she was getting the jaywalking ticket and she’s caught in the big lie about her mom and grandmother.  What other lies does she tell?
  • This story is the first in a series of Sammy Keys mysteries.  Is there anything about this story which makes you think it is part of a series?  Would you read more of these books?  Why or why not?
  • Did you think that the climax was effective?  When did you realize who the real criminal was?