Sahara Special

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

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 15 reviews

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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
Adult Written bySarshine March 6, 2020

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,... Continue reading
Adult Written byTeneisha.smith1 June 5, 2019

Not a book for a child!

This book has vulgar language in it and should not be read by kids. My daughters teacher knew about the language and did nothing. Thought it was a good "c... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old November 1, 2014
Bacon Pancakes
Kid, 11 years old December 28, 2012

What is the story about ?

I think this book is very good it is about a girl named Sahara who wants to follow her dream about being a writer. Sahara's teacher finds out and her teach... 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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