From the Desk of Zoe Washington
From the Desk of Zoe Washington

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Annotation: Avid baker Zoe Washington receives a letter on her twelfth birthday from her biological father, who is in prison for a terrible crime.
Catalog Number: #221402
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Publisher: HarperCollins
Copyright Date: 2021
Edition Date: 2020
Pages: 291 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-06-287586-8 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-8517-3
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-06-287586-0 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-8517-4
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2019026849
Dimensions: 19 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Publishers Weekly
On her 12th birthday, Zoe Washington receives a letter from Marcus, the biological father she-s never met, who has been serving time for murder since just before Zoe-s birth. Zoe-s mother and stepfather don-t want her in touch with Marcus, but Zoe, curious, strikes up a correspondence with the help of her maternal grandmother, who believes Marcus to be -a good person at heart.- Aspiring pastry chef Zoe grows busy as she makes up with her best friend Trevor, writes to Marcus, and interns at a family friend-s bakery, where she hopes to prove to her parents that she could compete on Food Network-s Kids Bake Challenge. When Marcus tells Zoe he is innocent, and her grandmother agrees, Zoe begins to learn about inequality in the criminal justice system, and she and Trevor set out to find the alibi witness who can prove his innocence. Debut author Marks seamlessly weaves timely discussions about institutionalized racism into this uplifting and engaging story that packs an emotional punch. Zoe is a relatable tween, with friendship and familial frustrations that will resonate with readers. Ages 8-12. Agent: Alexander Slater, Trident Media Group. (Jan.)
School Library Journal
Gr 4 Up On her 12th birthday, Zoe Washington receives a letter from her birth father, Marcus, who has been in prison her entire life. He wants to get to know her, and even though she knows her mom won't like it, she writes back. In their letters they bond over a shared love of bakingZoe is interning at a Boston-area bakery over the summer and dreams of becoming a pastry chefand music. When Marcus dodges Zoe's questions about the crime he committed, she Googles him and is horrified to discover that he was accused of murdering a college classmate. But Marcus also claims he's innocent and that there's even a witness out there who could prove it. Zoe doesn't know what to believecan innocent people really go to prison? In the course of researching wrongful convictions, she learns about racial bias in the prison system (Zoe and her biological parents are black, a stepfather is white) and decides to search for the alibi witness herself, even though Marcus doesn't want her to get involved. But keeping secrets from her mom quickly gets Zoe in over her head, jeopardizing her chances of obtaining the information she needs to save Marcus. This is one of only a small handful of middle grade novels to explore the experience of having a parent in prison, and the subject is handled with grace and sensitivity. It also exposes the important and timely issue of racial bias in the prison system in a way that is approachable to a middle grade audience. Zoe is a bright, compassionate protagonist for whom readers will root. She is supported by a loving family whose viewpoints differ yet who all want the best for her. The baking subplot will have readers itching to try out Zoe's recipes. VERDICT A smart, necessary, and hopeful middle grade debut that expertly balances a gentle, heartwarming tone with searing insight into systemic racism. Hand to readers who enjoyed Lisa Ramee's A Good Kind of Trouble or Kekla Magoon's The Season of Styx Malone .Elizabeth Giles, Lubuto Library Partners, Zambia
Word Count: 54,194
Reading Level: 4.4
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.4 / points: 8.0 / quiz: 506687 / grade: Middle Grades
Lexile: 660L

1 Kids Indie Next List * Parents Magazine Best Book of the Year * Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book of the Year * SLJ Best Book of the Year * Kirkus Best Book of the Year * Junior Library Guild Selection * Edgar Award Nominee * Four Starred Reviews From debut author Janae Marks comes a captivating story full of heart, as one courageous girl questions assumptions, searches for the truth, and does what she believes is right--even in the face of great opposition. Zoe Washington isn't sure what to write. What does a girl say to the father she's never met, hadn't heard from until his letter arrived on her twelfth birthday, and who's been in prison for a terrible crime? A crime he says he never committed. Could Marcus really be innocent? Zoe is determined to uncover the truth. Even if it means hiding his letters and her investigation from the rest of her family. Everyone else thinks Zoe's worrying about doing a good job at her bakery internship and proving to her parents that she's worthy of auditioning for Food Network's Kids Bake Challenge. But with bakery confections on one part of her mind, and Marcus's conviction weighing heavily on the other, this is one recipe Zoe doesn't know how to balance. The only thing she knows to be true: Everyone lies. "When Marcus tells Zoe he is innocent, and her grandmother agrees, Zoe begins to learn about inequality in the criminal justice system, and she sets out to find the alibi witness who can prove his innocence." (Publishers Weekly, "An Anti-Racist Children's and YA Reading List")


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