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From the Desk of Zoe Washington

by Janae Marks

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2401487,926 (4.08)2
"Avid baker Zoe Washington receives a letter on her twelfth birthday from her biological father, who is in prison for a terrible crime"--
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On Zoe Washington's birthday, she discovers a letter from her biological father. Zoe knows nothing about him except that he is in prison convicted of murder. He seems so nice in his letter, so Zoe decides to write back, but she knows she must hide her letter from her family because all she has been told by them is that her father is a bad man. As they continue to correspond, Zoe realizes that she needs to know who her father killed and why. When he tells her he is innocent and that he has an alibi, she begins investigating in order to find the witness who might be able to get her father out of prison.

From the Desk of Zoe Washington refers to the stationary that Zoe uses to write to her father. Zoe's interest in baking and her dispute with her friend, Trevor, are woven into this story about the judicial system and racism in this country. While the story can be a bit heavy handed with its message at times, and gives fairly simplistic answers to very complicated questions and issues, it does deliver a positive, upbeat story about injustice and its price. Overall, a good middle grade story with a very timely theme. ( )
  ftbooklover | Oct 12, 2021 |
This book is about a 12 year old girl named Zoe Washington who has an incarcerated father. She does not hear from him until her 12th birthday, and she has conflicting feelings about the whole thing because she is unsure if her father is a murderer or if he was wrongly convicted. This tells the story about her journey with writing to him from her desk and attempting to figure everything out along the way. This book shines light on real problems that children Zoe's age actually go through everyday. I would recommend this book to middle grades teachers. This book would be appropriate for any classroom, but it would be cool to have in a culinary class since Zoe is also a baker. ( )
  KennedyWeldon | May 1, 2021 |
"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")
  stlukeschurch | Mar 27, 2021 |
This was a solid read for tweens. Despite the serious issues (racism and flaws in the criminal justice system), "From the Desk of Zoe Washington" was nicely balanced with Zoe's love of baking and her Little Tomato playlist she kept adding to. I liked the letters that went back and forward between Zoe and her imprisoned father but I wasn't impressed with all the lies and secrets the various characters kept.

However, Zoe was a spunky, determined young lady who will appeal to the target audience. I just wish the author had included Zoe's fruit loops cupcake recipe at the back of the book. Many budding cooks who read this would would be keen to give it a try. ( )
  HeatherLINC | Mar 12, 2021 |
I chose this book because it was nominated for the middle grade category of the Edgar Awards. My 13 year old son is a fan of mysteries so I was hoping it would be a book I could recommend to him. However, after reading it, I don't think I would categorize it as a mystery. It is a good book, on the younger side of middle grade, about important topics but I don't think it would interest my son. I really liked Zoe and I appreciated her drive to find out more about her biological father. Like many middle grade stories, I cringed at some of the things she did to do so (lying to her parents, secretly sneaking away to talk to potential witnesses, etc.). I liked her friendship with her neighbor and appreciated how it evolved throughout the book. Overall, I think it is a great book to introduce ideas to kids, such as not everyone in jail is guilty. It has a strong, intelligent black girl as the lead character but would still appeal to boys in the age group. I would recommend it to kids around 11 or 12 years old who like realistic fiction. ( )
  Cora-R | Feb 15, 2021 |
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For my mom and my daughter, my biggest inspirations
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The day I turned twelve, I was certain it'd be my favorite birthday yet, but then I got the letter.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"Avid baker Zoe Washington receives a letter on her twelfth birthday from her biological father, who is in prison for a terrible crime"--

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