The Warden's Daughter

The Warden's Daughter

Book - 2017
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From Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli ( Maniac Magee , Stargirl ) comes the "moving and memorable" ( Kirkus Reviews, starred) story of a girl searching for happiness inside the walls of a prison.

Cammie O'Reilly lives at the Hancock County Prison--not as a prisoner, she's the warden's daughter. She spends the mornings hanging out with shoplifters and reformed arsonists in the women's excercise yard, which gives Cammie a certain cache with her school friends.

But even though Cammie's free to leave the prison, she's still stuck. And sad, and really mad. Her mother died saving her from harm when she was just a baby. You wouldn't think you could miss something you never had, but on the eve of her thirteenth birthday, the thing Cammie most wants is a mom. A prison might not be the best place to search for a mother, but Cammie is determined and she's willing to work with what she's got.

"Jerry Spinelli again proves why he's the king of storytellers" (Shelf Awarenss, starred) in this tale of a girl who learns that heroes can come in surprising disguises, and that even if we don't always get what we want, sometimes we really do get what we need.

"This book is never boring and never predictable. Fame, good and bad fortune, friendship and mental illness all make their way into [Cammie's] narrative."-- The New York Times Book Review

Praise for the works of Jerry Spinelli:

"Spinelli is a poet of the prepubescent. . . . No writer guides his young characters, and his readers, past these pitfalls and challenges and toward their futures with more compassion." -- The New York Times

"It's almost unreal how much the children's book still resonates." on Maniac Magee
Publisher: New York :, Alfred A. Knopf,, [2017]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ♭2017
ISBN: 9780375831997
Characteristics: 343 pages


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Nov 26, 2018

At first, this book presented a conundrum to me. A character appears who is obviously a racist stereotype – and this made me question Spinelli’s status as a great writer of YA novels. Then gradually the mindsets of the other characters clued me in – THEY see the character in question as a stereotype, when in reality she is a tragic figure, judged by a racist society. (The book firmly stands in “To Kill a Mockingbird” territory here, once again showing that the author of “Milkweed” and “Stargirl” does not shy away from difficult topics.) Not that the other characters fare much better – (slight spoiler alerts here!) Cammie, the protagonist, is at first unlikeable enough to be a genuine antihero; her father (the warden) is so distant as to be off in the ether somewhere (though there are plenty of hints to the contrary); and Cammie’s friend is shallow enough to be fascinated by fame of any kind at any cost. BUT – there is a redemptive ending (at least for Cammie), and by the time the reader gets there, it has become obvious that the narrative was leading there all along. This is a surprisingly complex novel (maybe only ostensibly for kids) with keen psychological insight. Worth a read!

Jul 31, 2018

The warden's Daughter was an amazing read. I was really into the book and enjoyed every chapter.

forbesrachel Aug 19, 2017

Cammie is the warden's daughter. To many, her home above the local jail is just about the coolest place around. Cammie herself enjoys her home and life, but she also realizes that something is not quite right with her. For one, she desperately wants a mother figure in her life, because her's died in an accident when she was a baby. This tomboyish, headstrong girl is not the type to wait, so she decides to trick the trustee/inmate Eloda into fitting the role. Things don't go as she planned though, and other events don't help. Cammie doesn't realize how much her unresolved issues have affected her. She is lost, and before the summer is out, her need for attention and resolution becomes worse. You really feel for Cammie as her walls come down; because she is so strong it took years for this to happen, so a lot of anger and sadness and frustration at the unanswerable questions were pent up behind them. Like Cammie, we believe that there is no one there for her. Her father is mostly absent, Eloda is aloof, and the others in her life flit in and out. Spinelli wrote the book this way intentionally. The reveal as to why, is a real wake-up call. The Warden's Daughter is a superbly written juvenile book that can pull at your heartstrings. The character of Cammie is emotionally deep, the notion of "imprisonment" is looked at in several different ways, the 50's setting is a novelty, and it keeps you engaged throughout it's slower character-driven plot.

Jul 30, 2017

In this book, you can discover an entirely different world of Cammie "Cannonball" O'reilly, where it is 1950s, and she is the warden's daughter, living in a hundred year old house. The summer of 1959, Cammie decides she needs a mother. Living as the warden's daughter, some of the candidates are, obviously, inmates. There is an arsonist named Eloda, who serves them as a trustee, or a maid. Another choice would be Boo Boo, a big, flamboyant shoplifter, who is almost Cammie's best friend. Jerry Spinelli never disappoints readers at the end, always giving a satisfying ending, pleasing readers.

ArapahoeMicheleW Jun 24, 2017

This story takes you to a different place and time. Cammie's feelings and actions jump off the pages and make you feel as though you were there that summer. An engaging, sometimes suspenseful tale.

ArapahoeStaff2 Mar 30, 2017

If you can make it to the end of this book, you will be rewarded with surprise twists and neatly completed puzzle pieces. Jerry Spinelli is known for his rich characters, and readers will be satisfied with the well-rounded ending. Unfortunately, you have to wade through nearly 300 pages with a slow and less than compelling plot line, and some very unlikeable (annoying) characters. Skip this one.

Mar 25, 2017

Spinelli has another hit with this book. It would be a good companion to read with Al Capone Does My Shirts.

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Nov 16, 2020

pink_panda_3203 thinks this title is suitable for All Ages

red_cat_9867 Aug 03, 2017

red_cat_9867 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over


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Jul 30, 2017

Some kids had tree houses. Some kids had hideouts. I had the Tower of Death.

Jul 29, 2017

I was the warden's daughter


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Violence: Because the setting is in a prison, there is talk of dark subjects. There are murderers within the jail and at one point a child’s body is discovered (murdered by someone who eventually becomes an inmate). The book also talks about the noose and someone does hang them self.


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