Sahara Special

Sahara Special


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Sahara Jones is going into fifth grade-again. Although she won't be "Sahara Special" anymore (special needs, that is), she doesn't expect this year to be any better than last year.

Fifth grade is going to be different, though, because Sahara's class is getting a new teacher. With her eggplant-colored lipstick and strange subjects such as "Puzzling" and "Time Travel," Miss Pointy is like no other teacher Sahara has ever known. With her help, Sahara just might find a way to redefine special for herself.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400089918
Publisher: Listening Library, Inc.
Publication date: 06/28/2004
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Esmé Raji Codell is the author of Hanukkah, Shmanukkah!, illustrated by LeUyen Pham, Diary of a Fairy Godmother, with illustrations by Drazen Kozjan; a memoir for young readers, Sing a Song of Tuna Fish: Hard-to-Swallow Stories from Fifth Grade, and the IRA Children's Book Award winner, Sahara Special. Her first book was the memoir Educating Esmé: Diary of a Teacher's First Year, and her most recent book for adults is How To Get Your Child to Love Reading. She has worked as a children's bookseller, teacher, and school librarian, and now runs the popular children's literature Web site, and literary salon, The Planet Esmé Bookroom. Esmé lives in Chicago with her husband and son.

Table of Contents

1Me and Darrell Sikes1
2My True Ambition14
3At the Library24
4New Things All the Time30
5We Got Her37
6The Lion's Lesson56
7George Gets Busted68
8The Way Things Are Built78
9Miss Pointy Gets Me Where I Live95
11Why Teachers Get Apples124
13Autobiographia Literaria167

Customer Reviews

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Sahara Special 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
SirRoger on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very enjoyable and inspirational story about a girl in 5th grade and a wonderful teacher who helps her realize her dreams. Highly recommended to all ages.
abbylibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sahara has been mistakenly labeled as a special needs student because she refuses to do her work and writes letters to her absent father instead. When Sahara's mother insists on removing her from the special ed program, Sahara must repeat fifth grade. The moment her new teacher walks in the classroom, Sahara knows that this year will be different. Miss Poitier (a.k.a. Miss Pointy) is unlike any teacher the students have ever had before, and she won't give up on any of them. Having read Codell's memoir about teaching, I know that the teacher character is based on herself. I liked that she tried to get inside the mind of a student and she brought up the issue of labeling students. Because Sahara had been labeled "special needs", other teachers might have been tempted to treat her differently. The story is told with a real warmth and it kept my interest. I listened to the audiobook, which is narrated by Phylicia Rashad (of The Cosby Show fame, among other things). I really enjoyed Rashad's reading and she's a narrator I will look for in the future.
MollyK_2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A book written from the perspective of a child living in the inner-city... good read for teachers.
edenjean on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Written from the point of view of a girl repeating fifth grade, Sahara Special is a story of personal development, making friends, and not judging a book by its cover. Sahara's difficult life is very relatable for students from all backgrounds, from her poor performance in school to her single-parent household, as well as her love of reading and her lack of friends. Sahara gets the nickname Sahara Special during her first fifth grade year, when she has to sit in the hall with the Special Needs teacher each day, who she only thinks of as Ms. Peaches. After her mother has an argument with her teacher Sahara is taken out of Special Needs, fails the year and must repeat fifth grade. Her new fifth grade class gets a new, unique teacher named Ms. Poitier, who has very clever and unusual teaching methods that seem to get through to the more troubled students. One method is the Trouble Basket, into which students put their troubles at the beginning of each school day as they enter the classroom. Ms. Poitier offers the students their troubles to take back on their way home, but no one ever takes them. The teacher also has students keep a journal that they write in each day, and through the journals she communicates with Sahara about her wanting to be a writer. Sahara's point of view is colored by the fact that her father left when she was in third grade. The family troubles of her classmates are also revealed throughout the story, and the classmates help or hurt each other just students their age really do. The realistic narrative, Sahara's unique perspective, and the students' constant battering with the quirky Ms. Poitier make "Sahara Special" a very good read. It is especially appropriate for readers ages 8 to 12.
josier80 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really liked this story of Sahara who never spoke in class and was given special needs help which just made her feel more different from her peers. I thought she was a well-rounded character and all the supporting characters were believable. Through a new teacher, she is able to find her voice again and rejoin her classmates in education, but it all seemed a little cliche to me. I liked the smart teacher and her quick responses to disruption. I think young girls would like Sahara's voice, but I don't think it would find a large audience. It seems like a novel that needs just the right reader because it focuses so closely on the education/class/schoolwork aspect of Sahara's life. I think just a little bit more about gaining new friends and reconnecting with her mom would give it a wider audience.
dee_kohler on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sahara has a problem with school work, she's unorganized, she doesn't finish her work and although she thinks of herself as a writer, she doesn't write. Instead she is given special education services which her mother decides is not working for her. A new 5th grade teacher helps Sahara find the voice she needs. Found this book very reminiscent of Codell's other book The education of esme.
kdebros on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great book from the point of view of a closed-off girl who was enrolled in special ed, and how she opened up. Love! Very accessible, very well-written, both touching and funny.
JRlibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sahara's mom pulls her out of her special needs class because she hears horror stories about one of the other children in the class. Sahara doesn't think grade five will be very different, but a special teacher manages to make it a great year. Suitable for grades 4 - 6
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautiful story. I read this with my 8 year old daughter after reading "Vive La Paris", another novel by the author. They are both written so well. Each night, we would read way past her bedtime because we enjoyed the story so much. I highly recommend this book.
jb70 More than 1 year ago
I listened to this book on audio with my children in the car. It is read by Phylicia Rashad who took me back in time a bit to the Cosby Show. I considered trying to tell my children how I used to watch a TV show she was on, but thought it might take too much time. I almost turned this story off soon after we started it because of some questionable words, but I am glad we stuck with it. Part of me wanted to give it a chance and the other part knew we had a longish drive ahead of us and it was the only audio book I had brought along. Sahara has stopped doing any work at school because she doesn't want the school counselor to have anything else to put in her file but on her own she is writing her life story and hiding it in a little used section of the public library. Getting a new teacher who doesn't read files and doesn't put limits on her students is the best thing that could have happened to Sahara and her classmates. She grows and changes so much through the story, and as with a lot of growth, it isn't always easy or painless. I loved how Miss Pointy had her students write in journals every day. I recall a seventh grade teacher I had who had us keep a manilla folder with paper and we were given regular time to write, sometimes on a prompt and others on whatever we wanted to write. I loved that time and I really think it helped me to grow and understand myself better. It was a school year where I really felt like the future was open before me and possibilities were there, and that is what Sahara comes away with. She also comes to see herself as special as a person and not in having special needs that need individualized attention in the classroom. For children I think it shows that having belief in yourself can change things that you think are set in stone, sometimes it is our own inner critic that is keeping us from moving ahead.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
NorthReadingMom More than 1 year ago
I checked this audio book out of the library for a long family trip. The audio book is read by Phylicia Rashad, who has a lovely voice and who is a fabulous reader. You should have seen my entire family RUN back to the car after rest stops (parents too) to get back to the CD! Also the frantic cries, "Wait! Rewind! I didn't hear that! Rewind!" Although some of the material and themes are on the mature side, it is a truly rewarding story that gives the listener a lot to think about. In particular, one main character in the story illustrates that even if a teacher [parent/boss/partner] does NOT know how to solve a problem that another person has, he/she can use the amazingly powerful tools of patience, respect and acceptance to encourage personal growth and a good outcome for that other person. I found the story to be inspirational and highly practical while avoiding sentimentality.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
cinammonbunny More than 1 year ago
I was at my school library and came across this book!!! it looked interesting, so i skimmed the pages. but then a word caught my eye. i went back to the page with where the word caught my eye and it said the B word. the bad b word. it actually was written there, in a children's book. i was so surprised. so i put the book down and didnt get it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Sahara Special is about a girl who has special help in school and alot of the time is made fun of it. Her parents are divorced and she is trying to get in touch with her dad. Her life is ok but after she meets the new teacher, everything changes. Sahara is a secret writer until the new teacher, Miss Pointy, finds out. But instead of getting on to Sahara for hiding stories in the school library, she inspires her. This book is not perfect, but reccomended. It's up and down emotional feelings will drive the readers crazy until they finish it. Everybody should have the oppurtunity to read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really think the reason this was a great book is because of all the meanings in has and how it has to do with the life from a girl in special ed to a boy in her class that needs help because of the way his mom treats him!! and smacks him in the head! and how sahara must learn to deal with her dad leaving her and her mom..
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was touching in a way I don't know. I cried at the end. This is what I call a vividly written book. You can really imagine what is going on! I think it is a book in which the story can happen in real life, but in Sahara's case, you don't want to believe it has happened to her. Sometimes it's sad. Sahara Special is a mix of reality, emotions, and this book is definetely special!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read Sahara Special after christmas. It was a good book. The author described Sahara very well! If she was real i would love to meet her!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is such a touching story-good descriptive words and good stories, and I especially loved the poetry. The only thing was there were a few bad words but not that bad, and I really want to read the next one!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was just okay. It does teach a few lessons here and there such as, it doesn't matter how good you are at something, everyone is the same. I really liked that because it can teach other kids that are kind of in the same situation as Sahara was in.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought that this book was really REALLY touching. The characters' personalities are very strong, but if you are nine years old or younger, I advise you not to read this book because it has some bad words in it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading this book because Esme Raji Codell wrote it so detailed and interesting, I didn't want to stop reading it. I love how the characters relate to students at our very own schools. Sahara Jones is the main character in this book and since her mother decided to hold her back, she is in the fifth grade for the second time. Darrel Sikes is the problem student in her class. He is always being disruptive and disobeying Mrs. Pointy. I admire Mrs. Point because she handles very intense situations so well, and she barely ever raises her voice. Sahara's best friend's name is Rachel, they are also cousins. Rachel and Sahara are nothing alike, Sahara keeps quiet in class and Rachel is very attentive in class. Reading this book has inspired me to let out the inner person that I may have locked up tight inside of me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading this book because it is so detailed and so interesting to read. Once I started reading I couldn't stop, I wanted to just keep on going to see what would happen next. I liked how the characters in the story could relate to the average students at our own schools. The name of the main character in this book is Sahara Jones. She is very uncomfortable when she is around a large group of people. Her best friend, Rachel, is also her cousin. Rachel is nothing like Sahara. Rachel is very attentive in class and she was always raising her hand, waiting to be called on. One student named Darrell Sikes, who I found the most interesting to read about, was the type of kid who did nothing but what he wanted to do. He always disobeyed the teacher and talked back to her. I admire Mrs. Pointy because she could handle very intense situations so easily, and she barely ever raised her voice to anyone. I really loved how the book ended. I don't want to spoil it so you'll just have to go and check it out! :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is truly outstanding. It combinds fear, happyness, and tears. I absolutely adore this book and I'm reccomending it to all my friends
Guest More than 1 year ago
A great gift for a teacher or any child, whether sh/e loves to read and write or is having trouble doing so. Esme Codell is a talented and funny writer.