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|Where the watermelons grow|
Author: Baldwin, Cindy
Twelve-year-old Della Kelly of Maryville, North Carolina, tries to come to terms with her mother's mental illness while her father struggles to save the farm from a record-breaking drought.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 5.40
Points: 8.0 Quiz: 197589
Kirkus Reviews (05/15/18)
School Library Journal (+) (03/01/18)
Booklist (+) (06/01/18)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (00/07/18)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 03/01/2018 Gr 4–6—When 12-year-old Della finds her mom digging black seeds from a watermelon in the middle of the night, she worries that the schizophrenia that put her mom in the hospital several years ago is back. Along with the stress of her mother's illness, her dad is struggling to save the family farm as scorching hot temperatures and a drought threaten the crops. Della asks the local Bee Lady for magic honey, which has been known to repair the wounds of residents in their North Carolina town for generations. She also helps take care of her 16-month-old baby sister so that her mom will have more time to rest. But as her mom's symptoms worsen, Della begins to see that rather than trying to fix her mama, she must find a way to love and accept her. The family is surrounded by helpful neighbors including Della's best friend Arden's family, who owns the farm next door. Della's voice will tug at reader's heartstrings as she tries to hold her family together. VERDICT 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.—Sarah Polace, Cuyahoga Public Library System, OH - Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 06/01/2018 *Starred Review* The fan barely moves the hot summer air as Della, 12, and Mylie, 2, try to sleep, their room stifling because their mother refuses to have the air conditioner repaired. Della heads to the kitchen for some water and finds her mother sitting with the fridge door open, feverishly flicking seeds from watermelon slices and nodding to voices only she can hear. Thus begins the story of Della’s endeavor to come to terms with her mother’s schizophrenia. While her dad struggles to keep their North Carolina farm going during the drought, Della takes on more responsibility for Mylie. Della yearns for normalcy and, having heard stories of Miss Quigley’s magic honey, decides to ask the “Bee Lady” for some to cure her mother’s sickness. Though the Bee Lady shares her special watermelon honey, she explains that Della may be the one in need of its healing power. First-time author 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. As Della comes to better understand her mother, both she and the readers will see that love comes in many forms. - Copyright 2018 Booklist.