Saturday, 1:00 pm EDT - 2:30 pm EDT June 12, 2021
Online via Zoom
This reading group has reached its capacity. To join the waitlist, please email Allison Escoto at [email protected].
In this 90-minute, single-session group for middle grade readers, ages 9-12, we’ll be reading and discussing the critically lauded, bestselling middle grade novel, From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks.
“This exceptionally sweet debut from Marks illustrates profound cracks in the American criminal justice system while telling an affecting story grounded in the middle-grade experience. The troubling ways race affects the characters…will facilitate important conversations about racial profiling and incarceration rates for people of color. Fortunately, Marks’ capable storytelling and engaging characters also combine into a wondrous confection of a book, full of heart and hope and promise.”
—Booklist, starred review
When twelve-year-old Zoe Washington receives a letter from her incarcerated father, she sets off on a courageous search for the truth, confronting her own assumptions, her family’s disapproval, and the deep racial inequalities of the criminal justice system, while she tries to do what she believes is right.
From the Desk of Zoe Washington will encourage thoughtful conversations about advocacy, self-discovery, friendship, biases, and why words matter. We’ll explore these themes and more in an open, safe environment designed to offer middle grade readers a literary social outlet and a space to discuss social justice and allyship with their peers.
Thank you to our media sponsor Park Slope Parents!
The Center for Fiction’s Big Read initiative, running from March to June 2021, includes free online reading discussion groups, workshops for young writers, flash fiction writing contest for teens, and public events with authors and scholars. This initiative is made possible through a $15,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Nancy R. Lambert
Nancy R. Lambert
Nancy R. Lambert (she/her) is a speculative fiction author from New York City who has written and ghostwritten more than 40 books for young readers. As N.R. Lambert, her short fiction appears in Don’t Turn Out the Lights: A Tribute to Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, PseudoPod, and Lovecraft Mythos. She’s also written for Entertainment Weekly, TIME, and LIFE. She was a 2019 U.S. National Park Service Artist-in-Residence at Fire Island National Seashore. In addition to her work as a pop culture author and freelance copywriter, she volunteers with Read Ahead and 826NYC. To learn more, visit NancyRLambert.com.
From the Desk of Zoe Washington
By Janae Marks
Published by Katherine Tegen Books
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.
About this series
NEA Big Read 2021
The focus of the Center's Big Read initiative, running from March to June 2021, is the National Book Award winning A Lesson Before Dying by the renowned Ernest J. Gaines, who passed away on November 5, 2019. The multidisciplinary initiative includes free online reading discussion groups, workshops for young writers, flash fiction writing contest for teens, and public events with authors and scholars. The Big Read initiative is made possible through a $15,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
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