Sahara Special, written by Esme Raji Codell of Planet Esme fame, introduces us to fifth grader, Sahara Jones. When Sahara's dad moved away when she was in the third grade Sahara began to write him letters, asking him to come back. Her grades begin to slip and Sahara is pulled out of class for intervention. Sahara's new post in the hall draws obvious attention and her peers begin to call her Sahara Special. Sahara's mother soon puts a halt to the intervention, insisting that the administration fail the girl if necessary.
The following fall, Sahara is in class with her favorite cousin but also with a nasty boy named Darrel, whom she was in class with last year. One person who didn't return to this classroom was Sahara's old teacher who is replaced by Miss Pointy. Miss Pointy is unlike any teacher Sahara has ever met, both in looks and in personality.
What follows is the account of a girl on the brink of falling through the cracks and how a teacher who cares about the students, who refuses to accept labels or past performance as excuses, can encourage a student to dig deep and find out what they are about. It's about a girl who, when someone is truly invested in her and makes her take responsibility for her own actions, can discover that what she is hiding is truly her best gift of all.
Sahara Special will make you laugh out loud and make you fall in love with each character in this inner-city Chicago classroom.
Ages: The publisher suggests ages 8-12, however I would not allow a child to read this without supervision and discussion. There are several instances of bad language and home situations that would need to be discussed. In light of that I would suggest no younger that 11 or 12 and again, I would suggest discussion. As always, pre-read any books that you allow your child to read.
Rating: I would love to give this book 5 stars but because of the language I'm going to have to resort to 3.5.
Audience: Any child but especially your intervention students. This is a must-buy for any 5th grade-9th grade teacher.
Disclaimer: I personally strongly recommend that every parent pre-read any book their child reads and decide for your family what is appropriate and what is not. It is my opinion that it is better to discuss tough subjects than to pretend they don't exist. So don't stray away from topics you wish didn't have to discuss with your children. For more information and other reviews on this book and others as well as video games and television shows please visit Common Sense Media. For information and reviews on movies please visit PluggedInOnline. Feel free to post your opinions here, you are allowed to disagree but you are not allowed to be disrespectful.