Support BookHounds

Review THE WARDEN’S DAUGHTER by Jerry Spinelli @JerrySpinelli1 @KnopfBFYR

I received this book at no cost from the publisher or author.

The Warden's Daughter by Jerry Spinelli
ISBN: 0375831991
Published by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers on January 3rd 2017
Genres: Adolescence, Coming of Age, Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Middle Grade
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher


Jerry Spinelli, one of the biggest names in children’s literature, offers readers a unique and unforgettable story in THE WARDEN’S DAUGHTER (Knopf Books for Young Readers / on sale January 3, 2017), a novel about a preteen girl finally coming to grips with the pain of losing her mother years earlier. THIS is the must-read book of 2017, and it will haunt your heart and mind long after you have read the final page.

Cammie O’Reilly is the warden’s daughter, living in an apartment above the entrance to the Hancock County Prison. But she’s also living in a prison of grief and anger over the mother who died saving her from harm when she was just a baby. And in the summer of 1959, as twelve turns to thirteen, everything in Cammie’s life seems to be in flux. Cammie’s best friend, Reggie, is discovering lipstick and American Bandstand. A child killer is caught and brought to her prison. And the only mother figures in her life include a flamboyant shoplifter named Boo Boo and a sullen reformed arsonist of a housekeeper named Eloda. All will play a role in Cammie’s coming-of-age. But one in particular will make a staggering sacrifice to ensure that Cammie breaks free from her past.

The New York Times has called Spinelli “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.” In THE WARDEN’S DAUGHTER, he masterfully spins a tale of loss, redemption, and love like no other. Not only does this book demonstrate the power of kindness, but it also makes readers realize that kindness can be hidden in the least likely people and places.

JERRY SPINELLI is the author of many books for young readers, including Stargirl; Love, Stargirl; Milkweed; Crash; Hokey Pokey; Wringer; and Maniac Magee, winner of the Newbery Medal; along with Knots in My Yo-yo String, his autobiography. A graduate of Gettysburg College, he lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, poet and author Eileen Spinelli. You can follow Jerry on Twitter at @JerrySpinelli1 and visit his website at



by Jerry Spinelli

An Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers hardcover / On sale January 3, 2017 / 978-0-375-83199-7 352 pages / $16.99 / $22.99 Can. / Ages 9–12 / Ebk: 978-0-553-49463-1 / $10.99

Available as an audiobook from Listening Library.


Cammie is twelve, almost thirteen, and as she nears her birthday, she thinks back to her mother.  Living with only her father, she is at a loss to where her life is going.  Her mother died pushing her out of the way of a truck when she was an infant and now doesn’t remember anything about her.  In her final summer before becoming a teen, she starts to explode, lashing out at her father and her friends.  She is looking for someone to be her mother.

When Cammie tries to find a mother figure in one of the inmates, Boo Boo Dunbar, and then becomes grief stricken when Boo Boo commits suicide. Eloda Pupko, a trustee, and working as a housekeeper for the family, cooks and cleans while listening to all of Cammie’s grief.  Cammie tries to make Eloda become her mother or at least act in some motherly fashion like her friend’s mothers.  As Cammie’s anger grows, Eloda knows this girl must grieve fully before she can grow up.

This is listed as a middle grade book but I can see it is a book that will spark conversations between readers of all ages.   It is just one of those books that should be a classic.  Cammie’s emotions just reach out to you and you have to find out if she turns out ok or not.  I think that all children and adults can see themselves as Cammie at one point or another.


Follow the rest of the tour:

January 3: Seeing Double in Neverland
January 4: Here’s To Happy Endings
January 5: My Brain on Books
January 6: Book Blather
January 9:  Bookhounds YA
January 10th: Reviews Coming at YA
January 11th: Project Mayhem
January 12th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
January 13th: Readers in Wonderland
January 16th: The Cover Contessa
January 17th: YA Books Central
January 18th: Reading Nook Reviews
January 19th: Xpresso Reads