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The Warden's Daughter Hardcover – January 3, 2017
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From School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—As an elderly grandmother, Cammie looks back on the summer of 1959, when she lived with her stoic warden father in an apartment adjacent to Pennsylvania's Hancock County Prison. Young Cammie is filled with unprocessed grief from her mother's tragic death. She decides that Eloda Pupko, the distant but constant prison housekeeper, should be her mother figure. The summer is full of change. Cammie's fame-hungry best friend outgrows her, and her close relationship with verbose Boo Boo Dunbar, one of a handful of African American inmates, ends in numb grief when Boo Boo commits suicide. Finally, Eloda helps Cammie truly grieve for her mother in order to move on. Character development and realistic dialogue shine in this emotional historical fiction title. The pent-up anger that bubbles under the surface of Cammie's memories is palpable. Spinelli's characters are achingly real at times, although some readers may find it difficult to care about such a spoiled, entitled protagonist. With narration by an elderly Cammie, Spinelli artfully adds foreshadowing to keep the plot moving. However, the pacing is slowed by adult Cammie's endless reflections on her emotions and behavior. The grandmotherly perspective lacks a tangible connection to young Cammie's confusion on the cusp of teenager-dom. Period-specific details abound, but some hit the mark without context (will young readers understand that the passing reference to "the Hokey Pokey man" is 1950s slang for ice-cream man?). VERDICT Sentimental and reflective, this nostalgic story will strike a deeper chord in adults than in middle graders.—Amy Seto Forrester, Denver Public Library
"It's a tapestry of grief and redemption, woven by a master storyteller who never loses his focus on Cammie's personal journey but connects it to Eloda's in a powerful twist. Moving and memorable."— Kirkus, starred review
"Spinelli again shows his mastery at evoking a particular time and place while delving into the heart of a troubled adolescent..."— Publishers Weekly, starred review
"The prison community is a powerful backdrop for Cammie’s turbulent coming of age, populated with messy lives that brighten in Cammie’s presence but that have their own demons to tame." — Bulletin, starred review
"Jerry Spinelli again proves why he's the king of storytellers." -- Shelf Awareness, starred review
"This is a story about facing hard truths and growing up. Readers will love the details of having a prison compound for a home and adore the many secondary characters who help keep Cammie’s head above water during her desperate search for happiness." -- Booklist
"Spinelli’s gift for humorous chaos and his trademark magic realism touches are showcased here, and it is exhilarating to read about kids with so much urban freedom." -- The Horn Book
"Character development and realistic dialogue shine in this emotional historical fiction title. Spinelli’s characters are achingly real."--School Library Journal
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Top customer reviews
Spinelli outdoes himself with this exquisite blend of historical fiction, family drama, and mystery.
Cammie is a delight from the first page, with her quippy wit and bravery, she steals the show and it is easy for the ready to jump right into her heart and want what she wants.
The plot is a lovely meandering of twists and turns and the reader begins to long for answers in much the same way that Cammie is searching....for what will fill her heart.
The ending is phenomenal and a total surprise and the bits and pieces of historical elements make the reader especially nostalgic because growing up without a mother in 1959 would be especially lonesome for a young girl.
But Cammie survives and thrives....and you'll be delighted to discover just how and why.
Most recent customer reviews
Now my daughter is the target age for this book.
She is not a fan of it.Read more