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Sahara special /

Struggling with school and her feelings since her father left, Sahara gets a fresh start with a new and unique teacher who supports her writing talents and the individuality of each of her classmates. Full description

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Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Hyperion Books For Children, 2003
Edition: First edition.
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There are two files on Sahara Jones. The one the school counselor keeps is evidence that she's a fifth-grader who needs special education. The other is the book Sahara is secretly writing, her Heart-Wrenching Life Story and Amazing Adventures. The latest chapter in her book unfolds when her mother insists that she be taken out of special Ed. So Sahara is facing fifth grade in the regular classroom, again. But why even try to do the work, Sahara wonders, if everything just winds up in the counselor's file? Enter Miss Pointy, the new fifth-grade teacher. With her eggplant-colored lipstick, and strange subjects such as "Puzzling" and "Time Travel," she's like no other teacher Sahara has ever known. Through Miss Pointy's unusual teaching, storytelling, and quiet support, Sahara finds the courage to overcome her fears and prove which file shows her true self.


1.Me and Darrell Sikesp. 1
2.My True Ambitionp. 14
3.At the Libraryp. 24
4.New Things All the Timep. 30
5.We Got Herp. 37
6.The Lion's Lessonp. 56
7.George Gets Bustedp. 68
8.The Way Things Are Builtp. 78
9.Miss Pointy Gets Me Where I Livep. 95
10.Orphansp. 110
11.Why Teachers Get Applesp. 124
12.Name-callingp. 150
13.Autobiographia Literariap. 167

Review by Booklist Review

Gr. 4^-6. Codell, author of an award-winning adult nonfiction book, Educating Esme (1999), about teaching in an inner-city Chicago school, brings her experience to bear in this debut novel. Sahara is a quiet, self-conscious kid, who misses her absentee father and can't seem to fit in at school. When her poor school performance and letters to Dad she's hidden in her desk come to light, she's put in Special Needs, an experience so dreadful that her mother pulls her out for another crack at fifth grade. As it turns out, her new teacher is just what she needs to build confidence and set her on a path to becoming a writer. It's meant to be Sahara's story, but it's her teacher, "Ms. Pointy," who takes over. Pointy's audacious, yet caring, demeanor and her undisguised disdain of educational bureaucracy will be a revelation to kids, who will see narrator Sahara as a sympathetic, but pale, second stringer. Codell works in wonderful metaphors and important life lessons, but that's not always enough to carry the peripatetic goings on, which come across as two parts message and one part story. An upbeat and certainly well-intentioned novel, but flawed. Stephanie Zvirin

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In her first book for children, the author of Educating Esme: Diary of a Teacher's First Year shows a keen understanding of classroom dynamics, a finely tuned ear for preadolescent voices and a lively, original wit. Her feisty narrator, Sahara Jones, does none of her schoolwork even though she loves to read and writes in secret she's been traumatized by her father's abandonment. Her classmates call her Sahara Special because she has to work with the special-needs teacher out in the hall along with the disruptive Darrell Sikes. When Sahara's mother objects to the arrangement, Sahara is held back to repeat the fifth grade; Sahara is thrilled to transfer from the land of special dumb to the realm of normal dumb. Her new fifth-grade teacher, Madame Poitier, better known as Miss Pointy, is dedicated but irreverent, and not easily categorized (She was pale, but I couldn't tell for sure if she was white or Asian or Puerto Rican, or maybe light-skinned black, observes the narrator. Miss Pointy wins her students' trust and manages to instill in them hope and confidence; while the outcome can be predicted, Miss Pointy's methods (and Sahara's responses) are full of surprises. Presenting memorable characters in spirited scenes, this novel will surely be empowering for reluctant learners and thought-provoking and gratifying for everyone. Ages 8-12. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-6-Sahara Jones finds a way out of the special-needs classroom and into the mainstream school population, where she not only learns quite a bit about herself, but also teaches others in the process. In the audio production Phylicia Rashad performs brilliantly, portraying children from a variety of backgrounds. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Esme Raji Codell is an avid collector of sparkly stickers and a pretty good roller skater. She is also the author of Educating Esme: Diary of a Teacher's First Year, which won an Alex Award, given for the best adult books for young adults, among many honors. She has worked as a children's bookseller, teacher, and school librarian, and now runs the popular children's literature Web site www.planetesme.com. Esme lives in Chicago with her husband and son

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