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From the Desk of Zoe Washington

By: Janae Marks

Dear Marcus…

Zoe Washington isn’t sure what to write next. What does a girl say to the father she’s never met, she 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’s determined to uncover the truth. Even if it means hiding his letters from her mom and stepdad.

Everyone 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! It’s Zoe’s dream to become a star baker, and she can’t afford to mess anything up. 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.

ISBN: 9780062875853

JLG Release: Jun 2020


Sensitive Areas: Discrimination: Racial Insensitivity/Racism
Topics: Fathers and daughters , Prisoners’ families , Bakers and bakeries , Family life , African Americans , Prison

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Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

Publishers Weekly*, Booklist*, School Library Journal*

School Library Journal

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 baking—Zoe is interning at a Boston-area bakery over the summer and dreams o 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 baking—Zoe is interning at a Boston-area bakery over the summer and dreams of becoming a pastry chef—and 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 believe—can 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. 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.

Book Details

ISBN

9780062875853

First Release

June 2020

Genre

Fic

Dewey Classification

F

Trim Size

8 1/4" x 5 1/2"

Page Count

304

Accelerated Reader

Level 4.4; Points: 8;

Scholastic Reading Counts

N/A

Lexile

Level 660L

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Katherine Tegen

Potentially Sensitive Areas

Discrimination: Racial Insensitivity/Racism

Topics

Fathers and daughters, Prisoners’ families, Bakers and bakeries, Family life, African Americans, Prison,

Standard MARC Record

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Cover Art

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Book Genres

Realistic Fiction

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