Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Serafina’s Promise

Serafina’s Promise

Fall 2013 Fiction
Ages: 10 - 14 yrs.
Author: Ann Burg
Producer: Scholastic
ISBN: 9780545535649
Hardcover Price: $16.99
Review:

Eleven-year-old Serafina is a good daughter; every day, she does her chores to help her Manman and Gogo, even when she'd rather be playing with her friends. She knows that Manman is anxious about the new baby coming, especially after little Pierre died because he was so thin. If she is impatient with Serafina sometimes, it is only from worry. But Serafina wishes she could make Manman understand how badly she wants to go to school. She wants to be a doctor, like the lady who came to help little Pierre when he got sick. Ever since Granpé was killed by the Tonton Macoutes when Manman was just a little girl, Manman has had no use for reading—only for work. Serafina is afraid she'll never be able to convince Manman; and every time she comes close, some new obstacle always seems to arise.

This novel is beautifully told through spare, evocative verse. Serafina's narration incorporates a fair amount of Haitian Creole and French, which is easily understandable through context, and also translated in a glossary in the back. This multilingualism is important to the novel, as Serafina begins to openly question the rules of language once she learns to read. Serafina herself is the novel's greatest strength; she is a richly developed, thoughtful, and complex protagonist, and readers of all ages will be drawn into her voice and her story.

Naomi Lesley   ©2013 Parents' Choice
Naomi Lesley taught middle and high school English for six years. She is currently in a doctoral program at the George Washington University, focusing on American young adult literature.

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