cover image The Warden’s Daughter

The Warden’s Daughter

Jerry Spinelli. Knopf, $16.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-375-83199-7

In this poignant coming-of-age story, Newbery Medalist Spinelli invites readers to revisit Two Mills, Pa. (last seen in Maniac Magee), during the 1950s to meet the 12-year-old daughter of a prison warden. When Cammie was a baby, her mother saved her life and was killed in the process. Still feeling her mother’s absence, Cammie lives a lonely existence with her father above the town prison. During the summer, she fills the hours by visiting the women inmates, playing records with her 12-going-on-17 best friend, and trying to turn her caregiver, Eloda Pupko, into a replacement mother. But Cammie’s failing schemes, coupled with another painful loss, cause her to lash out at everyone in her path. Spinelli again shows his mastery at evoking a particular time and place while delving into the heart of a troubled adolescent, creating an evocative backdrop through the sounds of early rock and roll, the smell of frying scrapple, and the sights of children freely roaming their neighborhoods. Like Cammie’s quietly wise housekeeper, readers will understand Cammie’s frustrations and cheer her on as she confronts her deepest emotions. Ages 9–12. (Jan.)