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Sahara Special

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Sahara Special Book Poster Image
A lovely, moving book about a student and teacher.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 15 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Sahara doesn't do schoolwork, and one of her classmates is very rude to the teacher.


Some mild swearing.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults smoking and drinking is mentioned.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there's nothing of concern but plenty to talk about in this story of a girl who gets much-needed help from an unconventional teacher.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 6, 11, and 13 year old Written byJennTheGamerMom December 3, 2013

A title so good that the teachers love it too!

I haven't even read this yet, but it's my fifth-grader's teacher's favorite... and if my daughter feels as strongly about it as she says she... Continue reading
Parent of a 3, 8, 8, and 13 year old Written byjayprincess March 29, 2010

Best children's book!

This is one of the best children's books I have read in my life. It is so cleverly written and I think every parent, teacher and child should read it. It m... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old November 1, 2014
Bacon Pancakes
Teen, 15 years old Written byxo.Christine.xo April 9, 2008

Read it its awesome

this book was awesome i thought it was amzing and so does my class i think this would be good for people 9 and up beacuse it was a great book im sooo speechless... Continue reading

What's the story?

Sahara loves to read and is a gifted writer. But after her father leaves, her letters to him end up in the school counselor's file, and she is placed in Special Needs. Sahara stops doing schoolwork (\"I was through giving them evidence. They wouldn't get anything more out of me.\"). When she continues to do no work, and her mother pulls her out of the Special Needs program, she has to repeat fifth grade.

There she meets the new teacher, Madame Poitier, called Miss Pointy, who's not like any teacher she's ever met. She behaves outrageously, is contemptuous of school rules and bureaucracy, and teaches subjects such as Puzzling and Time Travel. And when she finds out that Sahara wants to be a writer, she has only one thing to say: \"A writer writes.\"

Is it any good?

Esmé 'aji Codell's first novel for children is not a new story, but Codell's lyrical take on it is sharply observed and poignantly funny. This is a lovely, moving book.

Miss Pointy is front and center here, but Sahara's sharp voice crackles across the page as compellingly as Miss Pointy's antics. Sahara is one of those children who doesn't say much but who thinks a lot, and who notices everything. Her sometimes caustic observations are penetrating, and her writing talent is powerful, as revealed in a climax as satisfying as the end of one of Andrew Clements' books. Codell knows children and teachers, and the little graces of writing -- the rhythms, metaphors, insights, and turns of phrase that turn a story into a song.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Miss Pointy's unconventional style, Sahara's way of dealing with her problems, the rather negative view of school counselors and special education teachers, and lots more. Because there's so much to talk about, this would be a great book for school and parent/child literature groups.

Book details

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