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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
Her mother was killed in an accident at a nearby intersection when Cammie was a baby; a truck turned the corner as her mom was crossing the street pushing Cammie in her baby carriage. Her mom’s last act was to push the baby carriage out of the way before the truck hit her and killed her.
And that is Cammie’s dilemma, for she lives in a prison made of stone to be sure, but she also is a prisoner in her own prison, a prison of anger and resentment that she has no mother to care for her, to, well, mother her.
Cammie so yearns for a mother that she wishes that the trusty woman who cares for their apartment and looks after Cammie while her dad is working were her mother. Or if not her, perhaps one of the women inmates she is close to.
THE WARDEN’S DAUGHTER culminates in a Cammie gone off the deep end in her desperation and despair. What will happen to her?
You will have to read this extraordinary book to find that out! And one more word – this is a book everyone, no matter how old you are, should read, since beyond Cammie’s needs, is our own need, to find out who were the real people, their real personalities and real growing up and becoming adult lives, that are parents are or were.
A MUST READ!
It's 1959 and motherless tomboy Cammie lives in the town prison with her father, the warden. From this perspective we are exposed to many real world tensions--between the criminal and law abiders, the rich and the poor, the black and the white, the boy and the girl, the parent and the child.
Jerry Spinelli does an excellent job of making this world of Cammie's very real and relevant. So many emotions in each page that at times it took my breath away. The words weren't placed on the page, they pour out of the page and straight into the reader's heart.
I know I am gushing, but I promise you this will be a classic for years to come.
This works sweetly as a reminiscence and I can see how young readers might be drawn to it. There is a heavy overlay of nostalgia here which will work for some readers. I felt as though the narrative drifted along, as aimless as a summer off from school. Enjoyable but not what I was expecting.
Now my daughter is the target age for this book.
She is not a fan of it. Could not get into it she said
Tried several times but said she could just not connect with the main character and that she knew it might turn out to be too sad for her to want to finish reading so I told her let me try it out.
I found the book to be entertaining and interesting then again I am an adult.
This read seems a bit older to me than the original target audience.
Yes it is sad but ends ok. I came to really enjoy the main character.
Will have to decide after reading some reviews if your child would enjoy this read or not.
I do think it is more on the older end of the 4th-7th grade range.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
By: Jerry Spinelli
I received an e-ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
I really wanted to love this book.Read more