Parents' Guide to

Sahara Special

By Matt Berman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 9+

A lovely, moving book about a student and teacher.

Sahara Special Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 7 parent reviews

age 14+


Swearing and card reading. Lots of disappoint issues.

This title has:

Too much swearing
age 9+

Engaging and Meaningful!

This book gets my kids so involved in the story, and they are incredibly reflective of Sahara's character development. It's written with a great wit, and a heartfelt story line. Plus, it's set in Chicago which my kids adore! Yes, there are a few swears. No, I don't think that takes away from the quality of this book, especially considering the setting and what the characters are dealing with. The language includes damn, hell, jackass, and bitch, only one to two instances of each. For my fourth graders, I opted not to say bitch, but read the others. We had a conversation about how just because these words are used in the book, doesn't mean we are allowed to use them in our real life. We emphasize that these are the character's words and they are right for them in the moment that they are in. This book is well worth reading, especially as a read aloud!

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (7):
Kids say (7):

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.

Book Details

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