Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 15, 2016

Book Giveaway – The Warden’s Daughter – Jerry Spinelli

Newbury Award Winning author Jerry Spinelli has a new book, THE WARDEN’S DAUGHTER hitting the book shelves on January 3rd. He has agreed to join our Holiday Book Giveaway Extravaganza. I loved it. It’s a rich, heartwarming middle grade story that is perfect for children and adults. It was so much fun being taken back to 1959 with hula hoops, black and white tv’s, the music of the day, Bandstand, and Sputnik. If you enjoyed reading Maniac Magee, then you will love returning to Two Mills – I know I did. Jerry delivers a well written diverse book. Don’t miss this one. Here is the link to pre-order.

All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you did to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Check back to discover the winner.


From Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli (Maniac Magee, Stargirl) comes the knockout story of a girl who must come to terms with her mother’s death from inside the walls of a prison.

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.

Master storyteller Jerry Spinelli spins a tale of loss and redemption like no other. The Warden’s Daughter shows that kindness and compassion can often be found where we least expect it.


Montgomery County Prison – inspiration for book location


One day maybe fifteen years ago I was speaking to a busload of students from the stage of the band shell in Elmwood Park, Norristown, PA. The students were there to walk in the fictional footsteps of Maniac Magee, the hero of my book whose adventures take place in Norristown’s alter ego, Two Mills.

After the talk a woman came up and introduced herself to me as Ellen Adams. She told me that she, like me, had attended Norristown schools and that her father had been warden of the old county prison on Airy Street. Not only that, she grew up at the prison because that’s where the warden’s living quarters were.

From that moment Ellen Adams and I were friends and communicated frequently. Looking back, I can’t believe so much time passed before I fully understood what Ellen had given me: a book idea. Girl Grows Up In Prison.

The old jailhouse still stands on Airy Street as a relic from the days when prisons looked like medieval fortresses. It’s been abandoned for years now, yet if you stand across the street you almost expect the massive door to open and an armored knight to clatter forth.

So for my story I kept the prison. I kept the town–welcome back to Two Mills. I kept the girl but made her younger than Ellen’s years there. I kept the time–specifically summer of 1959. Ellen’s school friends used to love sleepovers two floors above hundreds of barred inmates, so I kept some of that too. Most of the other particulars of her life changed, including her name–Ellen became Cammie. So to be clear, it is not Ellen Adams’ story I’ve told, but Cammie O’Reilly’s. But there would be no book without Ellen, and she has read it and given it her enthusiastic endorsement.

The story, as often happens, is a patchwork quilt of my own and others’ memories, local history and imagination. Example: an old friend whose mother was killed saving him from an oncoming milk truck. Example: the sensational murder of a young girl near the banks of the Schuylkill River. Example: boys gathering outside the prison, waiting for an inmate in the exercise yard to belt a homemade “stringball” over the high gray wall.

Many proposals have been advanced for rebooting the derelict prison, whose exercise yard is now used as a parking lot for police cars. None of the proposals has gained much traction. But the storyteller is not beholden to politics or money. While most of the story takes place during Cammie’s twelfth year, it is told from the perspective of Cammie some fifty years later, Cammie who brings her granddaughter to the old jailhouse–which is now a birdhouse.



One day in second grade Jerry Spinelli dressed up in his cowboy outfit, complete with golden cap pistols and spurs on his boots. He went to school that way. It was not Halloween. When the teacher asked if he “would like to do something for the class,” he got up and sang “I Have the Spurs that Jingle Jangle Jingle.”

Shortly thereafter he ceased to be a singing cowboy and decided to become a baseball player. In eleventh grade he wrote a poem about a high school football game. It was published in the local (Norristown, PA) newspaper. He traded in his baseball bat for a pencil and became a writer.

The story of his life to that point is told in his memoir Knots in My Yo-Yo String. His sixth novel, Maniac Magee, was awarded the Newbery Medal in 1991 for “The Most Distinguished Contribution to American Literature for Children.” His eighteenth book, Wringer, received a Newbery Honor. Several are optioned for film.

Jerry Spinelli’s books appear in more than 40 languages. Anti-apartheid forces in South Africa recruited Maniac Magee to their cause. Stargirl has been translated and distributed throughout the Middle East to encourage peace between Arab nations and the West.

Stargirl Societies are springing up around the world. Village audiences in rural Japan view stage performances of Loser.

Wringer is the author’s fourth novel to be adapted for the stage. The others: Eggs, Stargirl and Crash.

Jerry Spinelli lives with his wife and fellow author, Eileen, in Pennsylvania.

You can visit Jerry at:


Thank you Jerry for sharing your journey with us and offering THE WARDEN’S DAUGHTER to one lucky winner.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Sounds fascinating! Maniac McGee will always be one of my favorite books for everything it embodied, for being such a fun read, and for the wonder in kids’ eyes whom I read it to who were not good readers and thus reluctant. So excited to read it themselves. No longer teaching, but I still read books in all age groups and genres. This one sounds like a winner. Eager to read it, and share it.


    • Bonnie,

      Congratulations! You won Jerry’s Book. Please send me your address. Thanks! Happy New Year!


      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Kathy, Faced Booked and Tweeted! Sue Beckhorn

    Sent from my iPhone



  3. Love Jerry Spinelli (and Eileen). They were FAVORITE Mentors at Chautauqua. Sharing on FB and Twitter! Thanks, Kathy!


  4. Love Maniac McGee, and this book sounds wonderful, too.


  5. Thanks for sharing Jerry Spinelli’s book journey. I’ve never been interested in reading a novel set in a prison before this interview. I tweeted –


  6. Jerry is a wonderful author and a great mentor. Hope I win his latest! Mary Beth


  7. I find it so intriguing when a place is such an integral part of the story, sparking it as much as the character(s). Loved this behind the scenes look at this book!


  8. Sounds like a fantastic book!


  9. Such an interesting location for a story – living above a prison. Looking forward to reading it and finding out how Cammie’s life turns out.


  10. I love Jerry Spinelli and used Maniac Magee as a class novel for years when I taught 5th grade. Looking forward to this.


  11. I liked, commented and shared the book link on Facebook. 🙂


  12. Maniac Mcgee, Stargirl…. so many wonderful stories. Thanks for sharing the true story of the old prison – what an unusual place for a coming of age story.


  13. I have read all of Jerry’s stories once and most several times and I’ll probably circle back and read some of them another time or two. Just love ’em and so enjoyed hearing a bit about the background of this newest story. Can’t wait to read this new one for the first time as soon as I can get a hold of it!


  14. Oh! I’m reading this right now and loving it. I’ve always loved Jerry Spinelli, both as an author and as a person. He and Eileen are such gems.


  15. How wonderful to win a copy of this book…fingers crossed. I’m tweeting, reblogging and posting on FB. Holiday Cheer to all!


  16. Reblogged this on Darlene Beck-Jacobson.


  17. I loved Stargirl. I will be reading Mr. Spinelli’s newest book,even if I don’t win a copy!!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Love all of Jerry’s books!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I can hardly wait until January. Looking forward to this one!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. How can anyone resist something by Jerry Spinelli? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Sounds like a great read!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. This really is an EXTRAVAGANZA. I love Jerry’s books. I’ll share on FB and twitter.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. This sounds like another great read by Jerry Spinelli. I’ll tweet and post to FB to share this amazing chance! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. don’t know if the giveaway has ended or not, but I would love to receive a copy! Jerry is one of my all-time favorite authors, and his works have made a big impact on my growth.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Ooh I want to read! #needwant
    (And Happy New Year Kathy! Xoxo!)

    Liked by 1 person

  26. jerry your books are amazing


  27. Love Jerri Spinelli. When my kids were small. I read all the books before they did. Loved reading about my home town.


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