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.
I read Educating Esme last summer and really appreciated Codell's spunk and zeal for teaching despite the grave conditions of the school and home environment of her students. Sahara Special is a novel that frequently resembles situations from Esme's own teaching experiences.
Phylicia Rashad is the narrator of the audiobook and at first, I thought it was going to be another disastrous decision by an audiobook producer, choosing a middle-aged woman to narrate for a pre-pubescent girl. Surprisingly, however, Rashad did an amazing job narrating for Sahara. She was able to bring her voice up to a register that sounded more youthful and her voices for other characters were on point.
My only concern about the book is the large amount of swearing for a middle-grade novel. I understand that Codell did this to add authenticity to the story (seeing as how her own students talked this way) but it's really difficult to assign a book like this in school or do a read-aloud when there is so much foul language. I have read aloud quite a few books to students that have one or two swear words, but this book is peppered with them. I can justify one or two obscenities to a parent, but it becomes increasingly harder to justify when the
profanities are a common occurrence.
Other than the language, this was an enjoyable story with a great lesson.
Sahara Special by Esme Raji Codell narrated by Phylicia Rashad
Published: July 2003 by Hyperion and Listening Library
Audiobook Length: 3 hours, 16 minutes
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Audience: Middle Grade