Where the Watermelons Grow
Where the Watermelons Grow
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Publisher's Hardcover14.44

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Annotation: 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.
Catalog Number: #202344
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
Publisher: HarperCollins
Copyright Date: 2020
Edition Date: 2020
Pages: 245 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-06-266587-1 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-6874-0
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-06-266587-4 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-6874-0
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2017034537
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
North Carolina twelve-year-old Della tries everything to cure her mama's schizophrenia, even asking the Bee Lady for her magic honey that supposedly cures all kinds of problems. Della slowly realizes she can't change Mama's illness, but she can change how she feels about it. The subject matter of this story is heartbreaking, but Baldwin leavens the mood with an affectionately rendered setting, strong female characters, and plenty of hope.
Publishers Weekly
-I closed my eyes, trying to forget all about those watermelon seeds, all about Mama yelling and acting crazier than she had in a long, long time, wishing there was anything in the world that could pull Mama-s brain back together.- It-s been years since 12-year-old Della-s mother-s schizophrenia took control. Now, as a drought threatens their North Carolina farm, her mother once again becomes preoccupied by germs and debilitated by fear. Della tries to step up, taking care of her sister, Mylie, a rebellious toddler, and letting her mother rest. She feels responsible; after all, the doctors say that it was Della-s birth that first woke the schizophrenia. Still, she can-t help but wish for a normal mother, and she is disappointed in her father, whose own anxiety closes him off, leaving Della abandoned. In her debut novel, Baldwin presents a realistic portrayal of life with a mentally ill parent; the simultaneous confusion and frustrated anger ring true. There isn-t an easy answer to Della-s guilt and her mother-s illness, but, with the help of family and friends, Della begins to view her mother as she is-sick-and accept the support of those who love her. Ages 8-12. (July)

Starred Review ALA Booklist
*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.
Word Count: 51,767
Reading Level: 5.4
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.4 / points: 8.0 / quiz: 197589 / grade: Middle Grades
Lexile: 1020L
Guided Reading Level: O

Fans of The Thing About Jellyfish and A Snicker of Magic will be swept away by Cindy Baldwin's debut middle grade about a girl coming to terms with her mother's mental illness. An Oregon Spirit Award Honor book. 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.

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