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Sahara Special
Esmé Raji Codell
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Sahara Special

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  2,311 ratings  ·  274 reviews
The winner of the International Children's Book Award, this novel tells the funny and touching tale of classroom redemption. Sahara Jones is going into fifth grade--again. Although she won't be Sahara Special (special needs, that is) anymore, she soon learns to find a way to redefine special for herself.
Hardcover, 175 pages
Published September 1st 2004 by Perfection Learning (first published April 1st 2003)
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I loved this book. As I finished I felt I had just been hugged, or snuggled into a fluffy blanket as I stared at snow gently falling. I felt content. Maybe 3/4 of the way through there is a delightful story told by Miss Pointy that I want to retell ... it was so entrancing and heart warming... It is later now and I can still feel it holding my heart ...
Lindsey Azu
Esme Codell tells a pasonite story of a young girl as a writer. A young girl who is put in special needs, but who is a true writer on the inside, expresses herself as a true writer as she goes through fifth grade again. Sahara Special is a good example of fiction and realistic fiction because a lot of things that happen in the book can happen in real life. Middle School readers will realate to this because they know what the character is going through. Overall this book is a very pasonite book f ...more
Well the protagonist in this book is Sahara. This book mostly takes place at Sahara's school. The antagonist is not a person but it is Sahara's beleif. Sahara beleives that she need special ed class mostly because her mother thinks that she need it to hide the fact that Sahara is just a lazy girl.Like on page one, Sahara's mother argues with her teachers to be in a special ed class "Sahara does need this class, it will be the only way that she would pass" Sahara's teachers beleive in Sahara so ...more
I respect Esme Raji Codell. She is a fabulous teacher and writer. Sahara Special was a sweet story about how a hardworking, creative, witty, and innovative teacher can bring the best out in her students. It reminded me of Esme's autobiographical story Diary of a Teacher's First Year, and while I thought there were parts of that autobiography that were "cocky", more power to her if she could extract the quality work from her students that she did.
In the novel, Sahara Special, Sahara was in "spec
Kimber Carnahan
Sahara is going through the fifth grade - again. Her mother elected to have her repeat the fifth grade instead of staying in special services in sixth grade, and Sahara is worried. What if her teacher doesn't like her, or thinks that she's stupid? Everything changes the day Miss Pointy walks into the room. Wild, eclectic, and tons of fun, she encourages her students to be whatever and whoever they want to be - especially Sahara. Maybe Sahara can fulfill her dream of becoming a writer, with Miss ...more
Disclaimer -- I am NOT a Codell fan...I found her memoir irritating to the max. That said, Mrs. Pointy is Esme, in all her glory. Flaunting rules, being rude for effect, flamboyant beyond belief. I see this book as Codell's love letter to herself and her unconventional know-it-all attitude about education. Did I mention, I'm not a fan?

That rant aside, Miss Pointy is exactly what Sahara needs at this moment in her life...what Darrell needs too. She shakes up the typical school environment, she fo
Ruth Ann
OHHHH! If only every child could be blessed with a Miss Pointy at least once in their lifetime! This is the story of a diverse Chicago 5th grade class and their witty, caring, but unconventional teacher, Madame Poitier. She generously & passionately shares her love of stories, but more importantly, she helps each child discover his/her unique talents. These children's lives are not ideal: broken families, non-English speaking parents, learning difficulties, and behavioral/emotional issues. W ...more
Jess Mortensen
Great read for a teacher. Clever ideas to engage kids and make them feel empowered. The narrator, a fifth grade girl, actually sees the teacher as "human."

from Chapter 5:

“My name is Madame Poitier, Miss PWAH-tee-YAY. It rhymes with touché, a French word that means, ‘you got me’”. She smiled openly then, even though it was the first day of school. I had never seen a teacher do that before. “Most children call me Miss Pointy”, she continued. We giggled. “Some children just call me Madame.”

“My damn
Rhys R.
This book was a motivating story, with an amazing story. There is a little girl named Sahara in the 5th grade, she was held back because of her special needs. Sahara is special not because of her history in special needs, not because of what her school file might say, but because she is a nice girl with a kind giving heart. Sahara learns that you don't have to be perfect to get what you want most, acceptance. Sahara's teacher is new and she does more things than other teachers to motivate her ki ...more
Michelle Kelley
Sahara is still dealing with the devastation of her father's abandonment. A voracious reader and secret writer, she refuses to do her school work and is placed in special education support services where she is taunted with the name, "Sahara Special." Her mother finally demands she be placed back into a classroom at her inner-city school. Sahara's class is given a new teacher, Madame poitier (or Miss Pointy as she is called. Miss Pointy is quirky but a breath of fresh air. Supportive, creative, ...more
Pet peeve: cursing in books meant for children. I'm finding this to be the new "thing" for recent books written for the tweener set. Annoying.
Fury inducing: 8 curse words in a book required in Battle of the Books list - a list that is read by kids as young as 8. What in the world? Librarian will be getting feedback on this one.

This book introduces kids to an urban school setting and may be very accurate. However, there is a reason we live in the suburbs and I'd prefer to leave the gritty, raw ci
Kente Najee
I read this book a few years back ago but i still remember it was a excellent read. the main character is very relatable and exactly like me in every way. she is in special ed and loves to write i was in the same position when i was a middle school and i'm still very much a lover of writing and reading but i felt lost and depressed i had no friends i didn't really have much support. i think this book was written for me as if someone knew me and took notes and wrote a book for me.I hope to read i ...more
Ms. Yingling
Codell, Esme Raji. Sahara Special
April 1st 2003 by Disney-Hyperion

Sahara is bright and loves to read and write, but after she turns in no work in the fifth grade and her teacher uncovers a bunch of sad letters to her father (who has abandoned the family), Sahara is given a tutor to work with in the hallway, leading the other students to call her “Sahara special”. When the tutor also has to work with recalcitrant and possibly violent Darrell, Sahara’s mother has her moved back to the regular clas
Lilian Sarlos
I love this book as a read-a-loud for my 4th and 5th graders along with Vive Paris.
Tempest S.J.
I find that I mostly read fantasy books. However, the new unit in school, Following Characters Into Meaning, requires that I read realistic fiction. Not owning many of these (I am sad to confess) caused me to look in the classroom. Here I have found a whole new genre that I have not spent much time with. My favorite (so far) is Sahara Special by Esme Raji Codell.

One of the reasons I like this book is the main character, Sahara. As an “educationally challenged” girl, you wouldn’t think she would
Ally Copper
"Sarahara Special" by Esme Raji Codell is an uplifting story for young readers. Sahara Jones is a fifth-grade girl who misses her dad and who longs to be a writer. She writes heartfelt letters to her father, who left Sahara and her mom, and her letters end up in her school file as evidence to her teachers and principal that she is troubled. This coupled with the fact that Sahara refuses to do her schoolwork causes Sahara to be labeled "special" and forced to attend intervention sessions in the h ...more
May 15, 2013 Heather rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: tween readers
Sahara’s dad was gone and never coming back. She was heartbroken over her parent’s divorce, so she started to act out in school, resulting in the creation of her infamous file. No longer doing any school work, Sahara started to meet with a special need’s teacher for individualized attention. Sahara’s mom felt she was smart enough, so she convinced the principal to treat Sahara like any other student, therefore she should be held back and taken out of the Special Ed classes. Now, Sahara was repea ...more
Sahara may be struggling in school, but she is not dumb! After some letters she wrote (privately) to her father are found by her teacher, Sahara is started on “special” classes out in the hallway. This is where she gets her new embarrassing nickname “Sahara Special”, and the start of a rough fifth grade school year ensues. After being held back, Sahara is surprised to see that this new year, still in the fifth grade, she has a brand new teacher, Ms. Poitier who all the kids call “Ms. Pointy”. Ms ...more
Jan 26, 2009 Barbara rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all parents and teachers of under-achieving students.
..the main character is the one who changes. (From Sahara Special spoken by Madame Poitier AKA Miss Pointy)

If the quote is applied to this book, we'd almost have to say that it has more than one main character, though it is written from the point of view of only one -- Sahara Jones. You might say that this book is several stories within a single story, and the teacher, "Miss Pointy," tells most of them. She is the inspiration and the catalyst for the changes in her multicultural students' lives.
Let me start by saying that I re-read this awesome book back in 2006 as part of the investigations I did for my Masters thesis paper. At the time I was exploring the issue of how works of grade-level fiction that will encourage at-risk learners to become life-long readers while achieving grade-level benchmarks.

Next...I just want to say that this was one of my favorites amongst those books I considered for my research! This is is an uplifting story that demonstrates how schools and individual tea
Kalo kerja di bidang pendidikan, penting banget bagi kita untuk selalu nambah wawasan dalam hal kajian psikologi anak maupun metode mengajar. Buku ini adalah satu dari sekian buku yang mengajarkan kita bahwa setiap anak lahir dengan keistimewaan masing-masing.
Serunya bagi kita-kita yang bekerja di sekolah adalah menjadi saksi hidup dari proses penemuan anak terhadap talent-nya. Syukur-syukur sih kalo ternyata kita malah menjadi pemicu aktif dari talent tersebut.
Sahara special lewat proses penya
This was recommended by one of my professional friends with great taste in young adult novels who, yet again, suggested a delightful book in "Sahara Special."

As a teacher, I found myself 'mental-noting' so much of Miss "Pointy's" personality and wishing that I could be as witty and confident as she is; maybe by the end of my career I'll come a little bit closer.

I like how the book is told from Sahara's perspective, a 5th grader who is so insightful and so innocent in her observations. She always
Just by looking at its cover (¨Sahara Special¨), I though that is was going to be about a ¨special girl, however, this funny, warm and tender story about a girl who is really ¨Sahara Jones¨. She is going thru fifth grade and after she opened her locker a bunch of unsent letter to her father fell out and went directly to her teacher’s feet. After this embarrassment she decided to become an unknown secret writer who hides her life story behind a public library shelf. She became linked with a Speci ...more
Codell, E.R. (2003). Sahara special. New York: Hyperion Books for Children.

Sahara Jones (also known as Sahara Special) was taken out of special education by her single mother and put into the mainstream classroom. Her ambition is to be a writer, and her new teacher, Miss Pointy, is an unprincipled, original, and unique teacher, who helps Sahara to learn about her classmates, her writing, and herself.

School Library Journal 10/1/2004
Voice of Youth Advocate 12/1/2003
Horn Bo
Sahara Special:
Not The Desert, The Girl
Sahara‘s life is about to change, she just doesn’t know it. The book Sahara Special, by Esme Raji, is realistic fiction because the events that occur in it could easily occurs in someone’s real life and the characters are very well portrayed. Sahara Special is about a girl named Sahara and her journey through her second time in fifth grade. The book takes place in modern day Chicago, Illinois. The main characters are Sahara, Miss Pointy, Darrell, Rachel,
Sahara Special is a story about inclusion. It follows Sahara, who used to be taken out into the hall during class for individualized attention. Her mom knew she was intelligent, so she decided to pull her from the program and hold her back one year. With the help of her new teacher, Miss Pointy, Sahara finally learns to shine.

This story was very well-written. The characters were very believable - they were complex, just like real people, and had very unique personalities. I’m sure most kids woul
I. adored. this. book. Thank you, Esme Raji Codell, for writing it. Beautiful.

Sahara Special shines of Esme through and through. I first encountered Codell when I read Educating Esme, her memoir of her first year teaching, and loved her sassy teacher attitude. Esme is a teacher like no other, as is Miss Pointy, the fabulous teacher in this novel. Sahara Special is the story of 5th-grade repeat Sahara Jones, labeled "special ed" after her father left her 2 (3?) years prior to the novel's beginnin
Sahara was deemed the nick name "Sahara Special" when her school counselor classified her as a special needs student; however, she has the potential to be an amazing student. She reads and writes at the library every day. She just lost all motivation to do her school work when her father left her and her mother. Because of this, Sahara's mother, and entire fifth grade refer to her as “Sahara Special.” This perception changes when Miss Pointy, the new fifth grade teacher, comes and changes the pr ...more
Cheri Ragland
"Sahara Special" was an intriguing young adult literature book. The story of a fifth grader who is labeled as a "special needs" child and the triumphs she endures in the classroom was amazing. The book is filled with wit and laughter, pain and criticism. Sahara is being held back in fifth grade, nervous and self-conscious, she makes the most of everyday. The new teacher, Ms. Potty, as she is often referred to, is bound and determine to not let these children fail but exceed further than they eve ...more
Caitlin Schwatka
Sahara is not only called special by her mother, but the whole 5th grade. The school counselor has a file stating Sahara needs special help. While Sahara is an incredible girl, and reads books more than she inhales oxygen, she has lost all motivation to do her work since her father left when she was 3rd grade. Because of this, the school has labeled her “special”, leading her classmates to refer to her as “Sahara Special.” This all changes when the 5th grade class gets a new teacher, Miss Pointy ...more
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Esme Raji Codell is the recipient of a prestigious James Patterson Pageturner Award for spreading the excitement of books in an effective and original way. She has been a keynote speaker for the International Reading Association and the American Library Association, a “virtual” keynote for the National Education Association’s “Stay Afloat!” online conference for first-year teachers, and a featured ...more
More about Esmé Raji Codell...
Educating Esmé: Diary of a Teacher's First Year Diary of a Fairy Godmother How to Get Your Child to Love Reading Seed by Seed: The Legend and Legacy of John "Appleseed" Chapman Fairly Fairy Tales

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