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What Momma Left Me Hardcover – July 6, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 5-8–When Serenity's mother is killed and her father disappears, the girl and her brother, Danny, move in with their grandmother and grandfather, who is the pastor at the Restoration Baptist Church. While dealing with her tumultuous loss, Serenity learns the importance of making wise choices at the same moment her brother begins falling in with the wrong crowd. Starting fresh at a new school holds promising beginnings for Serenity when she makes a new friend and becomes involved with the youth ministry at her grandfather's church. Religion and faith play a large part in their lives. Serenity Evans is a strong African-American character who will resonate with girls who are facing transitions of their own, large or small. Danny's friend's murder near the end of the book creates a disjointed finish to an otherwise well-written novel, but does not detract from the plot development. The overall message of staying true to one's self is strong and reassuring. This debut novel is an excellent choice for libraries serving urban populations, as well as those serving faith-based communities.Stephanie Malosh, Donoghue Elementary School, Chicago, IL
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

When their father flees after their mother’s death, 13-year-old Serenity and her younger brother, Danny, go to live with their loving grandparents, who support the children as they make their way in their new school, neighborhood, and church. In her journal, Serenity reflects on her hopes and concerns as she deals with a strong pull toward a boy who’s headed down the wrong path, wonders how to help a friend with an abusive father, worries about her brother’s choices, and senses her own moral compass wavering at times. Details of her mother’s death emerge slowly as the novel progresses. Each chapter begins with a poem written in response to a poetry assignment, a quote from a poet such as Maya Angelou, or a passage from the Bible. Packed with events, details, and revelations, this first-person novel creates a believable portrayal of Serenity, struggling through a difficult time but drawing strength from her wise, loving African American family and their broader community. Grades 5-8. --Carolyn Phelan
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (July 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1599904462
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599904467
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,432,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By DAC VINE VOICE on October 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I loved Watson's picture book debut A Place Where Hurricanes Happen, which was released at the end of June, a few weeks before What Momma Left Me. Though I just now got around to reading Watson's middle grade novel debut. I didn't think I would like What Momma Left Me so I didn't seek it out. Thanks to the book description, I thought the story would be heavy on the lessons, the cover and main characters name Serenity, reinforced this idea.

When I finally picked up What Momma Left Me, I quickly realized how wrong I was. I really really enjoyed this story and loved Serenity's voice. Thirteen year old Serenity and her younger brother 12 yr old Danny move in with their grandparents after their mother is dies. The two are trying to find a new home with their grandparents.

To cope with her loss Serenity writes in a journal. At Serenity's new school, her English class will be studying poetry. The students are required to write a poem in whatever style they learned that week on Friday.

Serenity Evans
Mrs. Ross, 1 st Period
Poetry Workshop

List Poem: a form of free verse poetry. Write a list poem about ten things you know

10 things I know
Even Jesus wept
Everything tastes better when it's homemade
Passing notes in class will get you in trouble
Nobody likes to be made fun of
True friends come back to you
Saying "I'm sorry" is never easy
A touch from a boy can set your soul on fire
People who pass away
visit you in your dreams
Sometimes doing the wrong thing
is the only way people know how to survive
death is a sneaky thief,
stealing life when you don't expect it.

Each chapter begins with one of Serenity's poems in its own font.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Darcy Wishard on August 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Tragedy effects different people in different ways...for Serenity the death of her mother and the changes thereafter result in her turning to her family and faith for support. For her brother Danny not so much...acting out and making poor choices is the result.

This book is a beautiful story of a young girl coming to terms with her mothers death and dealing with the resulting changes. Each chapter begins with Serenity's journal writings where she writes about everything from her questioning faith in God, her own poems and the voice of Maya Angelou. As Serenity adjust to her fated circumstances she deals with issues many girls do; crushes, new friends and questions about her future.

Yes there is a Christian edge to this story but for those of you who usually avoid Christian fiction, please don't disregard this story....the overall theme is about a girl coming to terms with the tragedy in her life (her mothers death isn't all Serenity has to deal with) her faith is simply part of her recovery process.

A simple, heartwarming, well written story of love, loss and healing. Serenity learns to be true to herself and that a complete life consists of both happiness and heartbreak. Don't let the "childish" cover fool you...definitely a middle grade book and older. I loved it and totally recommend!
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By Book Worm Mom on December 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My eleven-year-old daughter read this book first, and she couldn't put it down. She read it within 24 hours. After I began reading it, I saw why she couldn't put it down. The storytelling is wonderful. I really enjoyed this book and the way Ms. Watson tells the truth in her writing. She doesn't hold back. She allows her characters to have tragedy, feel pain, fall in love with the wrong people, make mistakes, etc. This is a great book and I highly recommend it for middle-school kids, boys and girls, and of any race.
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