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Serafina's Promise

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  765 ratings  ·  130 reviews
A luminous novel in verse from the author of the Jefferson Cup award winner ALL THE BROKEN PIECES.

Serafina has
a secret dream.

She wants to go to school
and become a doctor
with her best friend, Julie Marie.

But in their rural village
outside Port-au-Prince, Haiti,
many obstacles
stand in Serafina’s way--
little money,
never-ending chores,
and Manman’s worries.

More powerful even
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published September 24th 2013 by Scholastic Press
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In Darkness by Nick LakeAnacaona by Edwidge DanticatHold Tight, Don't Let Go by Laura Rose WagnerSerafina's Promise by Ann E. BurgTonight, by Sea by Frances Temple
Children's Fiction set in Haiti
4th out of 21 books — 1 voter
Crank by Ellen HopkinsImpulse by Ellen HopkinsIdentical by Ellen HopkinsBurned by Ellen HopkinsGlass by Ellen Hopkins
Novels in Verse
231st out of 236 books — 555 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,036)
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Although her daily life is filled with work, and sometimes she is hungry, Serafina dreams of becoming a doctor and healing others in Haiti. Although she learns about herbal medicine from her beloved grandmother, Gogo, she also wants to learn about medicine that is dispensed from pill bottles. The death of her younger brother Pierre spurs on this ambition, which she shares with her best friend Julie Marie. After working hard to convince her parents to allow her to go to school, Serafina meets new ...more
A moving novel in verse that centers on an 11 year old girl named Serafina and her family and neighbors living in a rural village in Haiti. Description of her daily life and the chores she's responsible for dominate part 1 of the book, but readers learn that Serafina dreams of attending school. Her ultimate goal is to become a doctor which she was influenced to pursue after living through the trauma of losing a loved one; her baby brother passed away before the start of the book and her mother i ...more
Alex Baugh
Living in abject poverty in Haiti, 11 year old Serafina makes a secret promise to her deceased little brother Pierre that she will someday go to school and become a healer so that she can save little babies like him. She wants to be just like her hero Antoinette Solaine, the healer who tried to save Pierre.

The only problem is that Serafina has never been to school and her parents can't afford to buy the necessary uniform to send her. And it isn't just the money. Her family needs Serafina's help
Jul 01, 2013 Janet rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
Ann E. Burg is one of my favorite authors of verse novels and this one didn't disappoint--other than I just didn't want it to end. I became so invested in Serafina that I still want to know if she found the rest of the family, if Gregory lived, if she and Julie Marie got to school, if they became doctors. And the fact that a verse novel of less than 300 pages impacted me this much tells you something about the quality of the book and the writing.
Abby Johnson
Serafina has a dream: to be a doctor like Dr. Antoinette Solaine, the clinic doctor who tried to save the life of her infant brother. To be a doctor, Serafina knows that she'll have to go to school... but there's no money for the books and uniform she'll need. Her family lives in a shack outside Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and Serafina's every moment is taken up with chores to help the family eke out a meager living. And then disaster strikes and Serafina's family is left picking up the pieces. But w ...more
The Styling Librarian
I loved this book. Loved x 50. I highly recommend sharing this book with however many children you can… it is simply beautiful. Not only do you have a beautiful novel in verse but such a powerful message you won’t believe it…

Serafina’s Promise by Ann E. Burg - Realistic Fiction/Survival/Adventure – 4th grade (careful with sensitive children) and up – This novel in verse packs a whallop. Set in Haiti you follow a little girl named Serafina who’s dream is to become a doctor. I loved how she came t
Apr 25, 2014 Nicole added it
Shelves: multicultural
(Primary) Serafina's Promise by Ann E. Burg

1. Text-to-self: Some students may be able to relate to this book if they have lost a sibling, lived in poverty, or dreamed to become a doctor or other professions in life. Another great text-to-self question to help facilitate student connections is: Does anything in this story remind you of anything in your own life? It is important for students to be exposed to situations in live that different from their own. This can help students develop empathy t
Wandering Librarians
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The book Serafina’s Promise is a realistic fiction book written in verse about a small girl with a very big heart. She lives with her family in Haiti and she dreams of becoming a doctor. Serafina believes that the only way that she’ll become a successful doctor is to go to school. But with a baby sibling on the way, storms, and endless chores to do, Serafina is finding her dream of a doctor fading farther and farther away. This amazingly written novel in verse was simply stunning; I usually don’ ...more
This verse novel brings to life the traumatic hardships that the people of Haiti have encountered, whether flood or earthquake or poverty, usually a combination. Serafina and her best friend dream of going to school so that they can study to someday become doctors to help their people. Finding the money and the time (family chores/responsibilities are important and expected) to go to school is difficult, but her parents help her to make it happen. Serafina's family is surrounded by love, and no ...more
Kent District Library
“My pick is our branch’s all-staff read: ‘Serafina’s Promise’ by Ann E. Burg.”
—Laura at KDL’s Plainfield Township Branch
Jun 17, 2015 Lauren added it
Shelves: multicultural
1. I made a text to world connection while reading this book. The poverty in Haiti can be translated to any culture around the world. Every community experiences poverty, it just happens at different levels. In this book, Serafina struggles with trying to be a part of her own background and identity but also wants to be educated and create a better life for herself. I don't have personal experiences in poverty, but that internal struggle is probably felt by many who live in poverty every day.

Morgan Gerard
Multicultural Intermediate Book: Serafina's Choice
2014 Americas Award Honored Title

I chose Serafina's Promise for a couple reasons, the first actually being that it is from the perspective of a Haitian girl. I have never seen a children's book written from the perspective of a young Haitian child so I thought that would be a great addition to a multicultural collection. The second reason I chose this book is that it is written in verse which is another thing you don't see very often but the aut
Jasmyn H
Burg, A. (2013). Serafina's promise: A novel in verse. New York: Scholastic Press.

Junior Book Log: Fiction choice-Historical Fiction

ALSC Notable Children's Books

This book is about young eleven year old Serafina living in Haiti. Serafina has dreams of one day becoming a doctor so she can help the elderly who live to far from hospitals and babies that are too weak and sick to survive on their own, but she knows if she is never able to go to school, that dream will not come true. Serafina spends he
Harry Brake
I love books in verse. Completely. There was a book that changed the way I looked at free verse, blank verse,all types of verse, and that was Crash, Boom, Love and the journey into Latino culture through verse was amazing. This book for Middle School aged students, is no different. Focusing on the tragedy in Haiti, Burg does an excellent job on portraying how personal the tragedy was, and why we should care. It is easy to be removed from international events, yet authors that bring you back on t ...more
I'm going to start off by telling you that this is a beautifully written book. I'm a bit of a sucker for verse anyway. It seems like people can pack such a wallop into a few words using this format. This book is no exception.

"What good is being brave
if being brave gets you killed
Which is better,
to tell the truth and die,
or to give the bad people
what they want and live?"

"I wonder what hunger is like
without a family
to fill the emptiness."

11 year old Serafina is an ordinary kid with a big dream.
Simone Gorgievski
"Serafina's Promise" by Anne E. Burg is a heartwarming and inspirational story about an eleven year old girl growing up in poverty in Haiti. Serafina's has a private dream, she desperately wants to become a doctor after watching her hero, Antoinette Solaine, try to save her baby brother Pierrre. Sadly, Pierre dies from lack of nutrition and this motivates Serafina to heal others in her rural community outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Serafina wants to attend school with her friend Julie Marie, b
Another novel in verse from (award-winning) author of 'All the Broken Pieces' (which I thought was really good).
This one follows Serafina, an 11yo in Haiti who dreams of being a doctor though her family can't afford to send her to school and her mother is expecting a new baby after her previous baby died.
So much sadness, but so much hope...and then a unexpected tragic event ups the ante and brings the suspense too. Kinda loved it.
Serafina wants to go to school more than anything else in the world. She wants to go to school to become a doctor so that she can help people. She wishes she could have helped her baby brother who died because he was sick and didn't get enough food. But school costs money and her family doesn't have any extra money. And there are so many chores to do each day. Serafina devises a plan in which she gets her father on her side. Her father says it's up to her mother. Serafina knows that the battle t ...more
Serafina lives in Haiti with her mother and father, not far outside Port-au-Prince. More than anything, Serafina wants to go to school so that one day she can become a doctor. But her family has no money for school, and she must stay home and help her mother, so is expecting a baby. But Serafina won't give up on her dream, and makes a promise to herself that one day she'll make it to school.
Laura Phelps
A beautifully constructed novel in verse set in Haiti. Serafina longs to go to school so she can become a doctor, but her family can’t afford to send her. The characters are sympathetic and there is enough action (floods and the massive earthquake) to keep the plot moving, but the highlight is really the gorgeous writing and the format makes it accessible to a wide array of readers.
Serafina dreams of being a doctor, but unfortunately she doesn't even go to school. Her family is very poor, living in Haiti, and she is needed at home to help her mom and grandma. A flash flood wipes out their home and village so the family has to move to another part of the island and rebuild. Soon after an earthquake strikes as well. Serafina is on her own after the earthquake trying to find her family.

I really enjoy novels in verse. I like the fact that authors have to get their story told u
Serafina is a determined little girl in Haiti. Her family has already lost one child and they are working hard to keep themselves fed and sheltered. Serafina wants more though. She wants to go to school so she can be a doctor and she is willing to do a lot to make that dream come true. This is a story of trouble, family love, and persistence.
Ariel Russell
• Genre in which book belongs and intended age range

The genre in which this book belongs is realistic fiction. The intended age range is 5th grade through 9th grade.
• Simple one or two sentence summary

This is a book about a young lady telling her story about her dreams of going to school and what she wants to be in life. She faces many obstacles along her journey.

• Curriculum connection

Are students dreaming and how can they get their dreams to come true? What can teachers do to get their dream
Perfect for a kiddo who wants to be (or must be) introduced to fiction in verse. Totally going after another of her books!! Haven't seen or heard much about the Haitian earthquake from a child's perspective, but better than that it exposes the heart-wrenching conditions which perpetually exist, earthquake or not.
Judi Paradis
Serafina lives in extreme poverty in Port au Prince, Haiti. This novel told in verse presents her efforts to earn enough money to go to school so she can become a doctor like the woman who tried to save her baby brother from starvation. The contrast between Serafina's life and that of a typical (or even impoverished) American child is stark and will be easily noticed. American readers are likely to be surprised by how many difficulties Serafina is up against, and how cheerfully she works to chan ...more
Over time, I got to love novels written in verse, just like this one. I love the sound, the flow of the narrative. Serafina's story was very special for me as it allowed me insights into the lives of people in Haiti, before, during and after he devastating earthquake of 2010. My heart reached out to Serafina, her courage and perseverance in following her dream of going to school to become a doctor. I could imagine this book to be a great read aloud when students are learning about children's rig ...more
Serafini dreams of becoming a doctor one day, but her family is too poor to send her to school. Yet, she is determined...she will work extra hard, take on more chores, and show her family that she is able and willing to do whatever it takes. Hardship is constant in their poor village in Haiti. The rains come and wash away their house and an earthquake nearly takes everything else...yet they survive and carry on.

Serafina's Dream remains vibrant and steady. She will push forward, knowing that her
Serafina's family struggles with poverty in Haiti, and she is needed to help with chores that contribute to the family's ability to earn money for food. Purchasing the uniform that would be required for Serafina to attend school means extra work and saving over a period of months, but Serafina is determined to get an education and to become a doctor so she can help to heal children like her infant brother who died. Just when she has overcome her mother's resistance to the idea of allowing her to ...more
My 12-year-old daughter recommended this book to me because she knows I love emotional, heartwarming stories. My daughter also shares my love of books written in verse. Serafina is a sweet, young, Haitian girl who dreams of going to school and helping her family. She faces many obstacles, but her hope, faith, and optimism help her overcome. Serafina's story is bittersweet and subtly brings forth the struggle of a people in a nation with a great heritage that often gets overlooked. The tale may b ...more
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