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Codell, Esme Radj.
New York : Hyperion Books for Children, 2003.
IL 3-6, RL 4.6
ISBN 0786807938
(3 booktalks)
Booktalk #1

Ever since Sahara's parents got divorced, she just hasn't been able to concentrate on her schoolwork.  The school counselor decides she has special needs, and has her meet in the hallway with the other special needs child, Darrell.  Every child in the school passes through that hallway, and soon Sahara has her nickname, Sahara Special.  One day Darrell gets frustrated, throws everything off the desk and swears which has her mother in the Principal's office the next day demanding Sahara be returned to the regular fifth grade class.  The Principal explains that if Sahara returns to the regular class, she will most probably fail and have to repeat fifth grade.  And she does.  Everything seems miserable until, on her first day of fifth grade for the second time the children find out that the regular fifth grade teacher has moved over the summer and in her place the children get the miraculous Miss Poitier.  Miss Pointy, as the children call her, refuses to let anyone fail, and tries different methods like journaling to reach some of the more difficult children.  With Miss Pointy's help, Sahara learns that she is indeed special, and the special can be wonderful.  (New Hampshire Great Stone Face Committee, 2004-05)

Booktalk #2

Are you the person everyone thinks you are?  Or do you have a secret side that no one knows?  Sahara Jones does.  The school counselor has a file that says that Sahara needs special help.  Since third grade, when her father left the family, Sahara’s work has gone downhill. That’s the public side of Sahara.  The private side of Sahara is the Heart-Wrenching Life Story and Amazing Adventures book she is writing about her life so far.  Sahara writes her story, tears the pages out of her notebook, and then hides them behind the books in the 940 section of the public library.  Sahara’s school thinks she needs special help, and the kids start calling her “Sahara Special” because she sits in the hall with her special needs teacher.  Well, Sahara’s mom only puts up with that for a short time, and then she demands that Sahara be taken out of any special program, even if she fails 5th grade.  So, this year Sahara is back in 5th grade, but there is a difference, and that difference is her teacher, Miss Pointy.  Miss Pointy’s real name is Madame Poitier, but she tells the class that everyone just calls her Miss Pointy. Miss Pointy teaches Time Travel and World Exploring and Mad Science, and hands out journals for everyone.  Sahara writes: I am a writer.  And then nothing else.  Miss Pointy writes: Writers write.  Sahara has to find the way to bring both sides of herself together, so that the world can discover her talent, and her true self.  (Alyse Goldman,,  Sterling Middle School, Sterling, VA)

Booktalk #3

Sahara is devastated by her father’s abandonment and having to repeat fifth grade.Since Sahara’s parents got divorced, she just hasn’t been able to concentrate on her schoolwork.Sahara’s school file is filled with ‘a history’ about her and thus the counselor determines she has special needs. Sahara must meet with the special needs teacher in the hallway, instead of a classroom, to get individualized attention.All the students passing by see her and immediately give her the nickname Sahara Special.

Sahara gets a fresh start with new fifth-grade teacher, Miss Pointy.With her purple colored lipstick, lime green eye shadow, wild copper colored hair held back by dragonfly barrettes, and strange way of dressing, along with her teaching strange subjects, such as “puzzling” and “time travel”, makes her quite unique and unlike any other teacher Sahara has ever known.

Miss Pointy’s special teaching methods of using journals, stickers, poetry and storytelling help her recognize the individuality of each of her students and Sahara’s writing talent.

Miss Pointy helps Sahara find the courage to overcome her fears and bring out the true writer that is hidden within her.

Enjoy this laugh-out-loud read with unforgettable characters and an inspiring teacher whose belief changes Sahara’s life forever.  Oklahoma Sequoyah Children’s Book Award nominee, 2005-2006

SUBJECTS:     Self-esteem -- Fiction.
                        Authorship -- Fiction.
                        Teacher-student relationships -- Fiction.
                        Schools -- Fiction.
                        African Americans -- Fiction.
                        Chicago (Ill.) -- Fiction.


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