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Author: Spinelli, Jerry
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf/ Penguin Random House
Year Published: 2017
ISBN: 9780375831997
Grades: Grade 6, Grade 7, Grade 8, Grade 9

The Warden’s Daughter

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Newbery Medalist and master-storyteller Jerry Spinelli returns to Pennsylvania and the home of “Maniac Magee” to create a compelling coming of age story set in 1959, told in flashback format from the protagonist in 2017. This is a mesmerizing account of a strong-willed motherless girl named Cammie who lives in an apartment at the prison, daughter of the stoic and innovative warden, and in search of a substitute mother the summer before beginning junior high school. Cammie’s method of dealing with her grief and anger about her mother’s death involves rampages, striking out at those around her, miscreant behavior like shoplifting and cigarette smoking, brooding, and impulsive behavior as this complex character bridges the gap between childhood and adolescence. The author unveils truths slowly in this captivating story driven by a cast of colorful secondary characters – her fame-crazed best friend Reggie, her quietly wise trustee and housekeeper Eloda, and an exuberant prisoner Boo-Boo. A heart-breaking conclusion and themes of redemption and forgiveness make this an insightful emotional journey and a powerful read for both middle school students and adults.

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