Bullet Book Review with @mrs_cmt1489


Teachers: here are resources you can access if you use Cindy's stories in your classroom; which I highly recommend! http://cindybaldwinbooks.com/#class-resources


Disclaimer: I'm a 5th grade teacher in south central Texas, what works for my kids may not work for your kids, and what does work; it may work the same or in different ways. In the end, they're all kids - they all need to be exposed to many lives, cultures, history, and experiences as possible. 


I have featured Cindy quite a bit on Teachers Who Read and for good reason. Her newest release, Beginners Welcome, was one that I still haven't let go of. It just came out today, and I promise - as much I loved Where the Watermelons Grow, Beginners Welcome holds just as big a place in my heart. 


 
*Affiliate image - click to purchase!
Beginners Welcome
By: Cindy Baldwin


For fans of: 
Authors: Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Ali Benjamin, Elly Swartz


First Line(s): "I woke on the first day of sixth grade to the sound of mama crying in the bathroom."

The author: 

Cindy Baldwin is a fiction writer, essayist, and poet. She grew up in North Carolina and still misses the sweet watermelons and warm accents on a daily basis. As a middle schooler, she kept a book under her bathroom sink to read over and over while fixing her hair or brushing her teeth, and she dreams of writing the kind of books readers can’t bear to be without. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and daughter, surrounded by tall trees and wild blackberries. Where the Watermelons Grow is her debut novel and is followed by Beginners Welcome. Learn more about Cindy at www.cindybaldwinbooks.com. 

The Book: 

It’s been eighty-three days since Annie Lee’s daddy died, but she still sees reminders of him everywhere. His record player mysteriously plays his favorite songs, there’s shaving cream in the sink every morning, and the TV keeps flipping to the Duke basketball games he loved.
She knows Mama notices it too, but Mama’s been working around the clock to make ends meet. To make matters worse, Annie Lee’s friends ditched her over the summer. She feels completely alone—until she meets Mitch.
Though Mitch is tough and confident on the outside, she may need a friend just as badly as Annie Lee. But after losing so much, Annie Lee is afraid to let anyone get too close.
And Mitch isn’t the only friend trying to break through Annie Lee’s defenses. Ray, an elderly pianist who plays at a local mall, has been giving her piano lessons. His music is pure magic, and Annie Lee hopes it might be the key to healing her broken heart. But when Ray goes missing, searching for him means breaking a promise to Mitch.
Faced with once again losing those who mean the most to her, Annie Lee must make a choice: retreat back into her shell, or risk admitting how much she needs Mitch and Ray—even if it means getting hurt all over again.
Just like in her debut, Where the Watermelons Grow, Cindy Baldwin brings her signature twist of magic to this authentically heartfelt story.

Reviews:

Editorial:

"Targeted to kids who sometimes feel invisible or afraid, Baldwin’s prose challenges them to be the bravest and wisest versions of themselves, delivering the message that it is our brokenness that makes us beautiful, not our perfection." (School Library Journal (starred review))

“As delicate and powerful as a sonata, Annie Lee’s story of music, magic, loss, and love should not be missed!” (Jessica Day George, New York Times bestselling author of Tuesdays at the Castle)

“Southern charm and ghostly magic bridge the loss of 11-year-old Annie Lee’s daddy. Once again, Baldwin crafts a solid story of hardship tempered by community and resilience.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Genuine and hopeful, Annie Lee’s story is one of finding courage in tough circumstances, of love and vulnerability, and of the power of music, despite one’s imperfections.” (Booklist)

“Intermingling themes of grief and loss with moments of unexpected, joyful connection, Baldwin depicts character growth with particular grace.” (Publishers Weekly)
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Reviews from myself and friends: 







*Affiliate image - click to purchase!
Where The Watermelons Grow 
By: Cindy Baldwin


For fans of: 
Books: The Thing About Jellyfish, Good Enough, Shouting at the Rain, Amal Unbound, The Science of Breakable Things 


First Line(s): "On summer nights, the moon reachers right in through my window and paints itself across the ceiling in swirls of gleams of silver." 

The author: 

Cindy Baldwin is a fiction writer, essayist, and poet. She grew up in North Carolina and still misses the sweet watermelons and warm accents on a daily basis. As a middle schooler, she kept a book under her bathroom sink to read over and over while fixing her hair or brushing her teeth, and she dreams of writing the kind of books readers can’t bear to be without. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and daughter, surrounded by tall trees and wild blackberries. Where the Watermelons Grow is her debut novel and is followed by Beginners Welcome. Learn more about Cindy at www.cindybaldwinbooks.com. 

The Book: 

A debut middle grade about a girl coming to terms with her mother’s mental illness.

When twelve-year-old Della Kelly finds her mother furiously digging black seeds from a watermelon in the middle of the night and talking to people who aren't there, Della worries that it’s happening again—that the sickness that put her mama in the hospital four years ago is back. That her mama is going to be hospitalized for months like she was last time.

With her daddy struggling to save the farm and her mama in denial about what’s happening, it’s up to Della to heal her mama for good. And she knows just how she’ll do it: with a jar of the Bee Lady’s magic honey, which has mended the wounds and woes of Maryville, North Carolina, for generations.

But when the Bee Lady says that the solution might have less to do with fixing Mama’s brain and more to do with healing her own heart, Della must learn that love means accepting her mama just as she is.
Reviews:

Editorial:

★ “Della’s voice will tug at readers’ heartstrings as she tries to hold her family together. Middle grade stories about mental illness, particularly those that focus on empathy and acceptance, are rare. This heartfelt story will stay with readers. A top choice.” (School Library Journal (starred review))

★ “Baldwin has written a heartbreaking, yet heartening, story that explores mental illness and its effects on an entire family. Readers will connect with the novel’s well-formed characters and be absorbed by the plot, which pulls no punches but doesn’t overwhelm.” (ALA Booklist (starred review))

★ “Cindy Baldwin’s graceful debut is an ode to family and community. Hints of sweet magical realism touch Where the Watermelons Grow, balancing this exquisite novel’s bittersweet authenticity.” (Shelf Awareness (starred review))

★ “In her debut novel, Baldwin presents a realistic portrayal of life with a mentally ill parent.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“[Della’s] first-person narration is realistically earthy without crossing into gritty. This debut novel gushes with Southern charm. This story’s as sweet as Della’s daddy’s watermelons but never saccharine.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“This has a tenderness that will appeal to fans of DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)

“Della’s story is a reminder that even under the toughest rinds of troubles we can find the cool, sustaining sweetness of friendship.” (Kirby Larson, author of the Newbery Honor Book Hattie Big Sky)

Where the Watermelons Grow takes a close look at the unpredictable and debilitating nature of schizophrenia. Baldwin writes with a genuine voice.” (Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA))

Where the Watermelons Grow is a spot-on, insightful novel about a preteen learning to live with and accept a parent’s mental illness.” (BookPage.com)
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Reviews from myself and friends: 







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