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Sahara Special Paperback – September 1, 2004


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion; Reprint edition (September 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786816112
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786816118
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #331,951 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Esmé Raji Codell, author of the bestselling Educating Esmé: Diary of a Teacher's First Year, makes her children's book debut with the warm, funny novel Sahara Special. "Can't a woman get a divorce without her kid going special ed on her?" This is the question Sahara's mother asks her daughter after a huge stack of letters that she'd written to her dad (but never mailed) falls out of her locker and on to her teacher's feet. When those letters are confiscated and locked up in the school counselor's filing cabinet, Sahara decides she will stop supplying "evidence" to the school; she stops doing her assignments, and is subsequently paired up with a Special Needs teacher, a fate equivalent to being "the street person of a school." What no one knows is that the newly dubbed "Sahara Special" is really "Sahara Jones, Secret Writer," a girl who hides her Heart-Wrenching Life Story and Amazing Adventures behind a public library shelf. No one, that is, until her show-stealing, deliciously unorthodox fifth-grade teacher Madame Poitier (Miss Pointy) arrives on the scene to remind her, so simply, that "a writer writes." Any child with a secret self (every child) will revel in Sahara's clear-sighted observations and sense of humor about a world that doesn't see who she really is. As in Sharon Creech's Love That Dog, readers will meet a likeable, difficult-at-first student and an extraordinary teacher who transforms lives by sharing her love of story and words. Highly recommended. (Ages 9 to 11) --Karin Snelson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 3-6-In this delightful first novel, readers meet Sahara Jones in the school hallway, where she's been pulled out of class for sessions with the Special Needs teacher. It seems that Sahara's official school file is filled with her letters to her father, who had left the family, instead of her completed assignments. Sahara is a secretive writer; she fills her journal at home, then rips out the pages and stuffs them on the public library shelves behind the 940s for someone to discover someday. At her mother's insistence, the girl is taken out of the Special Needs program but is forced to repeat fifth grade. Enter a new teacher, Madame Poitier, who encourages her class to do, to write, to be, as never before. Sahara is sweeter than Harriet the Spy, as needy and engaging as Ramona, and is sure to be a character whom children will want to read about and get to know. Codell's take on fifth graders, teachers, Special Needs students, and mothers is very funny, and underneath the humor glows real warmth and love. A special novel that readers will not be able to put down.
Linda Beck, Indian Valley Public Library, Telford, PA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Esmé Raji Codell is the author of the acclaimed novel Sahara Special, winner of the IRA Children's Book Award, a Kirkus Editors' Choice for 2003, and a BookSense 76 #1 title; as well as a memoir for young readers, Sing a Song of Tuna Fish: Hard-to-Swallow Stories from Fifth Grade. A former teacher, bookseller, and children's librarian, she lives with her husband and son in Chicago. Sahara Special and Sing a Song of Tuna Fish Hard-to-Swallow Stories from Fifth Grade are also available on audio from Listening Library.

Customer Reviews

This book reminded me why I teach.
Sara
The writing is sassy and brilliant, and the story is subtle and touching.
Emily J. Morris
My favorite read aloud book for fifth graders.
Becky B

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on May 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Sahara Special, opens eyes!!! The book is about a young 12 year old girl, who has troubles in school. People say she is special to be mean, just because she has issues, but she is really a remarkable girl who has a dream! She wants to become a writer more than anything. Sahara lives in a bad part of Chicago, where kids don't even know who their own father is. Unfortunatly Sahara is one of those kids. Her daddy walked out on the family, and it's having a huge problem with her, she doesn't know why he walked out on her mom, and her, and hinks it's her fault. Since Sahara had issues with her dad leaving, she started writing notes and thoughts to her dad, and she'd shove them in her desk. One day while the school counsler was in the room all the notes fell out of her desk, and on to the floor. the Counsler saw the notes and actually read them, and she decided Sahara needed counseling, so they put her in this special program for challenged kids. Sahara didn't like it one bit, so she got out of it, but got held back in school. The following year in school she got a new teacher named Miss. Pointy, who was wonderful and helped Sahara realize that Sahara was special, but in a good way! This book opened my eyes to what some kids go through!! I'm glad I read it, and it has a very possitive message! The author is wonderful! I hope U read it too!!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By S. Smith on September 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Esme Raji Codell has done the impossible-- she has written a book that transported me back in time to my own school girl days, and made me realize how miraculous life can be. Sahara Special is an insightful, funny and moving tale about a troubled, but talented young girl. Codell has an incredible ear for kids' voices that makes her first person narrator feel like a best friend. I recommend this book to kids dealing with divorce, life changes, and of course, the desire to write!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Emily J. Morris VINE VOICE on October 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
Wow! I can't even remember why I bought this book in the first place, but I think I had something like a good vibe that proved to be very much correct.

This is about a girl going through a rather awkward time. Though she is brilliant, her behavior and ability in school put her into a resource program that earns an sadly unfortunate nickname.

It's about her world and her relationship with the people around her. As a teacher, I am reminded of how students think and that they are still children that have thoughts, feelings, and ideas.

The writing is sassy and brilliant, and the story is subtle and touching.

Simply amazing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Like Francie Nolan in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Sahara learns to flower in the desert of city life and the absence of her father. Sahara's character is in the tradition of antiheroines or, rather, heroic young "misfits" before her, such as Mick Kelly who privately and protectively creates her music in The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter. Who will hear--or want to?
From her teacher Miss Pointy (who, despite her name, helps smooth the sharp edges of school life), Sahara learns to listen to her own mind and heart and, most touchingly, to take comfort from it.
Younger readers who live in crowded inner city neighborhoods will recognize and appreciate Esme Codell's descriptions of city and classroom life and relationships with family, friends, and teachers. Once read, older readers will want to read this book to younger ones so they can hear Sahara's special voice again.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on October 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
This was a really good book, like none that I've never read before. "Sahara Special" is magical (not in the ways of Harry Potter), it's enchanting, it's intriguing, it uses words in such a way that you've never imagined it before. The metaphors in the book make it 10x better, and you have to agree with me that Ms. Pointy, the teacher in this book, is the best teacher that ever could be. Also, there's this really bad boy in the story, known as Darrell, and I have to say, it took a genious to make him how he was in the book. Esme Raji Codell wrote this as her first novel, and you only know that her writing skills will get better as time passes. A first novel, and it's so good already! Sahara Special makes me wonder about why I ever thought school as boring, since you can have so many adventures once you turn the corner. This is truly the best book I've ever read, and I doubt that anyone could replace the impression that Sahara Special left in my heart forever. You have to read Sahara Special, and hopefully I've already convinced you to do so.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Melanie A. Burton on October 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
In Sahara Special, Esme Raji Codell pulls from her experience as a teacher to portray realistic kids and an audacious teacher who gets their attention. The main character Sahara goes from being an extremely introverted although talented child to one who is more willing to show her talents. The unconventional Madame Poitier or Ms. Pointy, as the class calls her, is able to reach not only Sahara, but also Darrell, the class troublemaker, several ESL students, Sahara's shy cousin, and practically every character mentioned including Sahara's mother! An interesting and mostly believable story about a budding writer and her teacher. With some minimal strong language, this story is inspirational without being heavily moralistic and would be appealing to 10 to 12 year olds.
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