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From the Desk of Zoe Washington
by Janae Marks




Overview -

#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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More About From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks

 
 
 

Overview

#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)


 

Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062875853
  • ISBN-10: 006287585X
  • Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
  • Publish Date: January 2020
  • Page Count: 304
  • Reading Level: Ages 8-12
  • Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 pounds


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BookPage Reviews

From the Desk of Zoe Washington

On her 12th birthday, just after her “dream birthday party” at a local bakery, Zoe Washington gets an unexpected letter from the father she’s never met. Marcus Johnson has long been in prison for the murder of a young woman who had been a friend of his. Zoe knows her mother and stepfather wouldn’t approve, but she secretly begins writing back in From the Desk of Zoe Washington, Janae Marks’ engaging debut.

Zoe’s instincts prove right, because it turns out that Marcus has been writing to Zoe for years, and her mother has been intercepting his communications. Immediately intrigued, Zoe is surprised at how kind, smart and concerned her father seems; he calls her “Little Tomato” after a jazz song and sends her a playlist of his favorite songs. Eventually, Zoe inquires about his crime, and Marcus declares his innocence, claiming that his public defender never bothered to track down an alibi that would have exonerated him.

Zoe finds a helpful ally in her maternal grandmother, who remembers Marcus and thinks “he is a good person at heart.” Grandma believes that Marcus and Zoe have a right to communicate, so she offers to serve as an adult intermediary. Their allegiance is warm and believable; it’s particularly touching when Grandma facilitates Zoe’s first phone conversation with her father.

Unbeknownst to her grandmother, Zoe is determined to track down Marcus’ alibi, and the uncertainty of her quest—along with Marks’ crisp writing and Zoe’s likable first-person narration—makes for page-turning reading. The resolution of Zoe’s investigation comes a bit too easily, but her gradual awakening to the problem of racial injustice for black people like Marcus serves as an excellent introduction for young readers to the pervasive issue.

Marks also includes parallel narratives that help round out the plot, such as Zoe’s desire to enter a “Kids Bake Challenge!” on the Food Network and a misunderstanding between Zoe and her next-door neighbor, Trevor, who aids Zoe in her sleuthing. Zoe and Trevor’s friendship troubles offer valuable insights into how easily relationships can be unintentionally damaged.

Never heavy-handed, Marks’ prose is as sweet as one of Zoe’s confections. And as the icing on the cake, From the Desk of Zoe Washington imparts important lessons about judging other people, whether by the color of their skin or by their presumed guilt or innocence.

 

BAM Customer Reviews