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August 3, 2015

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Pick of the Day: Serafina’s Promise

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BURG, Ann E. Serafina’s Promise. 304p. glossary. Scholastic. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780545535649; ebk. $16.99. ISBN 9780545549943.
Gr 4-6–Serafina is just 11, but she fetches water from a stream every day and helps her family add to the coin jar by bundling the herbs her mother and grandmother sell. She has witnessed the death of her infant brother, wishing and wondering if she could have done more to save him. Told in verse, this first-person account of a young girl’s life in Haiti is filled with sadness and the harsh realities of poverty, yet the poetic narrative sings of hope and promise. Inspired by Antoinette Solaine, the doctor who attends to her dying brother, Serafina vows to find a way to go to school and one day help others. But who would bring the water and help Manman with the chores? And the few coins in the jar do not come close to the cost of a school uniform and shoes. The story unfolds as the family, already victims of political unrest, now faces natural disasters and separation. Serafina, always the healer, rises above obstacles and hardship, keeping her dreams and her promises close at hand. A powerful and uplifting story of family and sacrifice, perfect even for reluctant readers.–Cheryl Ashton, Amherst Public Library, OH

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