about the author

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Books have always been a part of Wendelin Van Draanen's life. Her mother taught her to read at an early age, and she has fond memories of story time with her father, when she and her brothers would cuddle up around him and listen to him read.

Growing up, Van Draanen was a tomboy who loved to be outside chasing down adventure. She did not decide that she wanted to be an author until she was an adult and used writing as a cathartic means of dealing with a family tragedy. She soon stumbled upon the joys of writing for children.

Feedback from her readers is Van Draanen's greatest reward for writing. "It means the world to me when people tell me how much my books have helped them through a hard time or have positively impacted their lives," she said. Van Draanen hopes to leave her readers with a sense that they have the ability to steer their own destiny--that individuality is a strength, and that where there's a will, there's most certainly a way.

Her first book was published in 1997, and since then her titles have been nominated for State Award Master Lists all over the country. The Sammy Keyes Mysteries have been nominated for the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Juvenile Mystery five times, with Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief bringing home the statue. Additionally, she has won the Christopher medal for Shredderman: Secret Identity, the California Young Reader Medal for Flipped, and ALA’s  Schneider Family award for The Running Dream. Her books have been translated into many foreign languages, and both Shredderman and Flipped were produced as movies. She lives in California with her husband and two sons. Her hobbies include the “Three R’s”: Reading, Running and Rock ‘n’ Roll.

You can connect with Wendelin on her blog at: etrtr.blogspot.com, on Twitter: @WendelinVanD, or on the Sammy Keyes facebook page:  facebook.com/sammykeyesbooks.

Fun Facts

Born January 6 in Chicago, IL

Previous Jobs

Forklift driver, coach (sports), musician, high school computer science teacher

Inspiration for writing

The past, the future, the struggle for a happy ending!


. . . foods sushi; Thai food, and dark chocolate

. . . clothes to wear Sneakers, shorts, and sweatshirts

. . . colors Purple! Also, emerald green with a splash of midnight blue