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The warden's daughter
Publication Information:
[New York] : Listening Library, [2017]
Physical Description:
6 audio discs (7 hr., 1 min.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
General Note:
Title from web page.

Compact discs.
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 about the mother who died saving her from harm when she was just a baby. And prison has made her mad. This girl's nickname is Cannonball. In the summer of 1959, as twelve turns to thirteen, everything is in flux. Cammie's best friend 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. 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.


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From Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli ( Maniac Magee , Stargirl ) comes the "moving and memorable" ( Kirkus Reviews, starred) story of a girl searching for happiness inside the walls of a prison.

Cammie O'Reilly lives at the Hancock County Prison--not as a prisoner, she's the warden's daughter. She spends the mornings hanging out with shoplifters and reformed arsonists in the women's excercise yard, which gives Cammie a certain cache with her school friends.

But even though Cammie's free to leave the prison, she's still stuck. And sad, and really mad. Her mother died saving her from harm when she was just a baby. You wouldn't think you could miss something you never had, but on the eve of her thirteenth birthday, the thing Cammie most wants is a mom. A prison might not be the best place to search for a mother, but Cammie is determined and she's willing to work with what she's got.

"Jerry Spinelli again proves why he's the king of storytellers" (Shelf Awarenss, starred) in this tale of a girl who learns that heroes can come in surprising disguises, and that even if we don't always get what we want, sometimes we really do get what we need.

"This book is never boring and never predictable. Fame, good and bad fortune, friendship and mental illness all make their way into Cammie's] narrative."-- The New York Times Book Review

Praise for the works of Jerry Spinelli:

"Spinelli is 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." -- The New York Times

"It's almost unreal how much the children's book still resonates." on Maniac Magee

Author Notes

Jerry Spinelli was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania on February 1, 1941. He received a bachelor's degree from Gettysburg College and a master's degree from Johns Hopkins University. He worked as an editor with Chilton from 1966 to 1989. He launched his career in children's literature with Space Station 7th Grade in 1982. He has written over 30 books including The Bathwater Gang, Picklemania, Stargirl, Milkweed, and Mama Seeton's Whistle. In 1991, he won the Newbery Award for Maniac Magee. In 1998, Wringer was named a Newbery Honor book.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 6

Publisher's Weekly Review

The latest from Newbery medalist Spinelli is a coming-of-age story set in Two Mills, Pa. The story opens with the protagonist Cammie O'Reilly, an elderly grandmother, remembering the summer of 1959, when she was 12 and lived with her father in a house adjacent to the Hancock County Prison, where he was the prison warden. The summer was emotionally treacherous for young Cammie, who was just coming to terms with her mother's death. She spent the dog days inside the prison gates passing the time with the women inmates. Actor MacDuffie performs the first-person retrospective narrative in a soothing but straightforward manner, letting Spinelli's masterful prose take center stage. When the story takes a tragic turn, MacDuffie adds due emotion to her otherwise calm reading, which makes for a powerful ending. Ages 9-12. A Knopf hardcover. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

It's 1959, and Camille, a lively, determined, self-described tomboy, is twelve. She lives in a suite inside a prison where her father is the warden. Spinelli makes the most of this distinctive setting as Camille becomes a kind of mascot or pet for the female inmates, has access to historical criminal records, and gains status at school when it is presumed she has inside information on crime and criminals. The driver of the story is Camille's hunger for a mother to substitute for her own, who died in an accident when Camille was just a baby. It's a busy, multi-strand plot, including a mystery from the past, Cammie's growing friendship with a family from the wrong side of the tracks, a framing story involving Cassie as a grandmother looking back ("But now, more than half a century later"), a friend who gets to appear on Bandstand, and a re-spin of the plot in diary form from the housekeeper/mother-substitute's point of view. Spinelli's gift for humorous chaos and his trademark magic realism touches are showcased here, and it is exhilarating to read about kids with so much freedom, but Cammie and her female friends don't always ring true. For example, discussing Cammie's flat chest, they come up with three solutions: stuffing her sweater with a pair of socks, holding her breath to make her breasts pop out, and refraining from going to the bathroom for the same effect. This is a good joke, but it sounds more like one a boy might make. Without a convincing main character, the complicated narrative structure doesn't cohere. sarah ellis (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

Most people would hate to call the Hancock County Prison home, but 12-year-old tomboy Cammie O'Reilly wouldn't have it any other way. As the warden's daughter, she lives in an apartment above the prison entrance with her father and has a commanding presence that's earned her the nickname Little Warden. Set in 1959, just before Cammie turns 13 and enters junior high, this is a story about facing hard truths and growing up. In the background swirl issues of race, treatment of prisoners, and the arrival of a high-profile murderer, but Cammie's mounting anger over her mother's tragic death takes center stage. Spinelli's latest gives readers an interesting, often heartbreaking glimpse into the 1950s and the timeless need for a parent's love. Narrated by Cammie as an adult, the carefully constructed story seems a little too neat and purposeful at times, but readers will love the details of having a prison compound for a home and adore the many secondary characters who help keep Cammie's head above water during her desperate search for happiness.--Smith, Julia Copyright 2016 Booklist

New York Review of Books Review

"NO MOTHER IS finally buried until her child climbs out of the grave," Cammie O'Reilly, the protagonist of "The Warden's Daughter," says. But how can you profoundly miss a parent you never knew? And if you're looking everywhere for someone to be the mother you never had, will the world present an endless series of heartbreaking disappointments? Set mainly in 1959, in a small Pennsylvania town, this latest novel by Jerry Spinelli, the author of many books for young readers including the Newbery Medalwinning "Maniac Magee," explores these questions and many others with the flair of a master storyteller. Bookended by scenes of Cammie in the present, "The Warden's Daughter" looks back at a world where preteenage kids could ride bikes at all hours of the day and night without someone placing an Amber Alert. Yet this is also a community in which a man is arrested for killing a 16-year-old girl and dumping her body in the river. It's a singular town, while at the same time it's every place of the late 1950s - perhaps both simpler and more dangerous than today all at once. The murderer becomes a celebrity the moment he's taken to the local prison. It is here that Cammie, now 12 - she lost her mother to a tragic accident when she was just a baby - lives in an apartment above the castlelike jail with her father, the warden. It's a remarkable place to call home. Perhaps if there were a mother in the family, she would have insisted they inhabit more than a collection of rooms that look down over a walkway into the women's exercise yard. Yet there is something so forbidding and exotic about this space that a group of girls in Cammie's class show up uninvited (and later take to calling themselves the Jailbirds), vying to become tragedy tourists. The girl they seek to befriend, herself no stranger to tragedy, is prone to outbursts of anger and even goes out of her way looking for physical altercations. What Cammie so desperately wants, or believes she desperately needs, is someone to mother her. She's surrounded instead by a collection of characters who include a mysterious inmate named Eloda Pupko, who has been tasked with being the warden's housekeeper and is Cammie's "trustee"; a gregarious shoplifter named Boo Boo, who treats Cammie like a pet and reserves time every day to sit in the prison's quiet room for their visitation; a hyperactive, cap-gunfiring 5-year-old boy from the other side of town; a somewhat absent and vacant father; and a devoted best friend, Reggie, who is socially already in another world. Cammie is not, like the other inhabitants of the prison, officially serving time, of course, but like everyone around her, it seems, she has the potential to travel down a destructive path. She finds solace pedaling fast all over town on her bicycle. "You never smile!" she is told by Boo Boo, and her adult narrator voice admits, "I was not a happy person." Outside the prison walls, demonstrators pushing for the death penalty for the incarcerated killer carry signs that read NO MERCY. Is it any wonder Cammie longs for human contact, but punches a boy who likes her in the face? The final steam locomotives of an earlier era still chug through town, leaving their sooty remains, while on television the popular new show, "Bandstand," is shot in nearby Philadelphia. As it is turning Dick Clark into a household name and worldwide television impresario, the show has the kids spinning records and dancing in the streets. The teenager is being born in American culture - and on the page in "The Warden's Daughter." THE LAST PASSAGES of this novel read like a fever dream, with Cammie moving her story forward in leaps and bounds. Fame, good and bad fortune, friendship and mental illness all make their way into her narrative. While somewhat frustrating in the fitfulness of the storytelling, this book is never boring and never predictable. It is possible adults will respond to the material even more than children. But then again, if there are times the reader feels overwhelmed, well, maybe that's the point. If you live in a prison as the warden's daughter, you can come and go, because your father runs the place. But it takes something more to break free. HOLLY GOLDBERG SLOAN is a screenwriter and the author of books for children including, most recently, the middle-grade novel "Short."

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-In 2017, Cammie O'Reilly is an elderly grandmother visiting her childhood home with her 12-year-old granddaughter after half a century away. While the outside still looks like the same "fortress from the Middle Ages," the inside now houses birds, butterflies, and turtles rather than the 200-plus inmates of the Hancock County Prison-where Cammie; her widowed father, the warden; and their prisoner-cum-housekeeper Eloda once lived. In the summer of 1959, when Cammie was about to turn 13, her search for a mother figure became desperate as she looked to Eloda, a storytelling inmate and another child's mother, for maternal connection. Amid American Bandstand, hidden cigarette packs, and visits to the prison yard, Cammie comes of age, saved by the kindness of strangers. Carrington MacDuffie is a fine narrator as the grandmother; although the more mature-voiced casting seems initially obvious, because the vast majority of the narrative belongs to a 12-year-old, MacDuffie's older characterization ultimately feels miscast as young Cammie's story progresses. VERDICT Libraries will likely be better suited to recommending Spinelli's latest on the printed page. ["Sentimental and reflective, this nostalgic story will strike a deeper chord in adults than in middle graders": SLJ 11/16 review of the Knopf book.]-Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

Perpetually angry, motherless Cammie OReilly, the wardens daughter, sets about turning Eloda Pupko, the silent, distant trustee working as Cammie-keeper, into a mother figure over the summer she turns 13. Set in 1959 in the Two Mills, Pennsylvania, of Spinelli's own childhood, this is firmly grounded in its time and place and full of details of life at Hancock County Prison. Cammies essential compassion shows in her willingness to spend time with all the incarcerated women, her particular affection for Boo Boo, a large, ebullient black woman who befriends the sad white child, and her disgust at best friend Reggie's admiration for their most famous inmate, a murderer. Reggie lusts for fame herself; one highlight of the summer is her appearance on the TV show Bandstandwatched and loudly applauded by a gang of rising Two Mills seventh-graders who are the friends who move into Cammies life without any apparent effort and who are firmly ejected as Cammies spiral into depressions depths approaches its climax. Cammie tells her own story chronologically, until its whirlwind crest; she frames it with scenes from the present. Its a tapestry of grief and redemption, woven by a master storyteller who never loses his focus on Cammies personal journey but connects it to Elodas in a powerful twist. Moving and memorable. (Historical fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.



1     Breakfast time in the prison. The smell of fried scrapple filled the apartment. It happened every morning.   "I could teach you how to do it yourself," she said. "It's simple."   "I want you to do it," I said.   "You'll be a teenager soon. You'll have to learn someday."   "You're doing it," I told her. "Case closed."   Her name was Eloda Pupko. She was a prison trustee. She took care of our apartment above the prison entrance. Washed. Ironed. Dusted. And kept me company. Housekeeper. Cammie-keeper.   At the moment, she was braiding my hair.   "Okay," she said. "Done."   I squawked. "Already?" I didn't want her to be done.   "This little bit?" She gave it a tug.   She was right. I'd wanted a pigtail down the middle, but all my short hair allowed was barely a one-knotter. A pigstub.   I felt her leaving me. I whirled. "No!"   She stopped, turned, eyebrows arching. "No?"   I blurted the first thing that came to mind. "I want a ribbon."   Her eyes went wide. And then she laughed. And kept laughing.   She knew what I knew: I was anything but a hair-ribbon kind of girl. I sat on the counter stool dressed in dungarees, black-and-white high-top Keds and a striped T-shirt. My baseball glove lay on the other stool.   When she had laughed herself out, she said, "Ribbon? On a cannonball firebug?"   She had a point on both counts.   Cannonball was my nickname. As for "firebug" . . .       In school two months earlier we had been learning about the Unami, the Native Americans from our area. This inspired me to make a fire the old-fashioned Unami way. For reasons knowable only to the brain of a sixth grader, I decided to do so in our bathtub.   On the way home from school one day, I detoured to the railroad tracks and creek and collected my supplies: a quartz stone, a rusty iron track-bed spike and a handful of dry, mossy stuff from the ground under a bunch of pine trees. I laid it all in the bathtub. And climbed in.   Over the mossy nest I smashed and scratched the stone and spike into each other. My arms were ready to fall off when a thin curl of smoke rose out of the nest. I blew on it. A spark appeared. "What are you doing?" said Eloda from the doorway. I glanced up at her--and screamed, because the spark had flamed and burned my thumb. Stone and spike clanked on porcelain. Eloda turned on the shower, putting out the fire and drenching me. When I dried off and changed my clothes, she put Vaseline and a Band-Aid on the burn and told me to tell people I had cut myself slicing tomatoes.       Eloda tapped my hand. "Lemme see."   I showed her. The burn was just a pale pink trace by now. She took my hand in both of hers. She seemed to hold it longer than necessary.   "Number one law," she said.   "No more fires," I said. She had made me recite the words every time she changed the Band-Aid. She still made me say it.   Then her hands were off me, but I was still feeling her. It was her eyes. She was staring at me in a way that seemed to mean something, but I would not find out what till years later.   "Tell you what," she said, breaking the spell. "If you make it to three knots, I'll get you a ribbon."   Again she started to leave.   Again I blurted, "You're so lucky."   Again she stopped. "That's me. Miss Lucky."   "I mean it," I said. "You get to have scrapple every day."   "You're right," she said. "That's why I decided to live here. I love the scrapple." She walked away.   "Stop!"   She stopped. She waited, her back to me.   "You can't go," I told her.   "I have work to do." She stepped into the dining room.   "I'm your boss!" I called--and instantly wished I could take it back. I added lamely, "When my dad's not here."   Her shoulders turned just enough so she could look back at me. Surprisingly, she did not seem angry. She sighed. "Miss O'Reilly--"   I stopped her: "My name is Cammie."   "Miss Cammie--"   "No!" I snapped. "No Miss. Just Cammie." She stared. "Say it." She kept staring. "Please!"   Now she was angry. My name, barely audible, came out with a blown breath: "Cammie."   She walked away.   This was in mid-June, the fourth day of summer vacation when I was twelve, and I had decided that Eloda Pupko must become my mother. Excerpted from The Warden's Daughter by Jerry Spinelli All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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