29 January 2023

From the Desk of Zoe Washington - Book Review

From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks
Publication date: January 14, 2020
Pages: 291 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars ☆☆☆☆
Sweet Spark: Zoe is a charming and precocious 12-year-old, with her share of kid problems and adult problems.

On her twelfth birthday, Zoe receives an interesting letter in the mail. It's from her biological dad, who has been in prison her whole life. Her mom never even wants to talk about him, so Zoe is pretty sure she's on her own if she decides to try and write back to him.

Around the same time, she notices that her favorite kids' cooking show is casting for another season! She wants to be famous, like her idol from the last season, and recognized as a great baker. Being on the show her idol was on could be the first step, if she can get her mom to agree.

And she's struggling with it all alone, as she overheard a conversation between her best friend and some of his new friends, which helped her to decide that she never wants anything to do with him again.

Zoe is, in some ways, just a typical kid. But she's got a few atypical challenges to deal with, like her dad's situation. This book does a great job with what is certainly an awkward situation in real life. They also do a thoughtful job of talking about the Innocence Project, initially from a skeptical point of view. The compassion and different perspectives of the characters in the book could be a great discussion point for kids around the same age with their families or educators.

Overall, I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars and would recommend it not only as a touch of mystery, but a great story with social justice conversation points and some explorations of harmful stereotypes.

This is another book I read for our local district's fifth grade battle of the books. Two winners out of the two books I've read so far!

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