The Warden’s Daughter By Jerry Spinelli
Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2017
The Warden’s Daughter opens with Cammie in 2017, now an old woman, looking back on her time as the warden’s daughter. Quickly, the story flashes back to the summer of 1959, when Cammie was just a young, rambunctious tomboy desperately trying to find someone to replace her mother, who died when she was just a baby. Cammie is granted a lot of freedom while her father is at work. She loves riding bikes, playing baseball, talking to inmates, and dreaming of the future with her flamboyant and confident best friend Reggie. She also spends a lot of time in their apartment above the prison, where Eloda Pupko, an inmate and prison trustee charged with cleaning the apartment and taking care of Cammie, becomes the fantasy mother Cammie has been longing for. Eloda is a stern and cold woman, and despite Cammie’s blatant attempts to get her attention, Eloda does not seem interested in having any kind of intimate relationship. Cammie is not to be deterred, however, and will stop at nothing to get Eloda to be the mother she’s always wanted.
I really enjoyed this book. I listened to the audio book version, and the voice actor, Carrington MacDuffie, does an excellent job of portraying the various characters, particularly the boisterous gruffness of Cammie. Despite covering some very difficult topics, like the death of a parent, the penal system, underlying racial issues, and suicide, there are some wonderful heart-warming and funny moments that keep the story from getting too dark. The characters and setting are beautifully developed, and the historical context is very engaging. This would be an excellent book for parents to read together with their children; it is sure to inspire nostalgia in adults and peak children’s curiosity about the past.
I can't wait to talk about this book at our Mock Newbery discussion, which will be held on February 3rd, 2018 at the Main Library in downtown Fort Wayne, IN. Or add your comments below! We'd love to know what YOU thought of this title.
Each week, beginning the first week of November 2017 through the last week of January 2018, we will be discussing one (or more) of the titles on our 2018 Mock Newbery list. (The complete list of titles we'll be discussing can be found here.)