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Serafina's Promise

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  2,249 ratings  ·  319 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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Average rating 4.02  · 
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 ·  2,249 ratings  ·  319 reviews

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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
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
Alex  Baugh
Nov 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: randomly-reading
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 rated it it was amazing
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. ...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
Jan 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books. The story of Serafina's Promise is a wonderfully written story. Burg writes in verse and makes it easy for struggling readers to understand. Serafina is a young girl who has a dream of becoming a doctor. Her father is a wonderful provider and does his best to help Serafina connect with Manman her mom. Gogo keeps Serafina thinking and letting her know that Manman was like her one time.
Serafina is an easy character to connect with. You want to see all of Serafina's dream
This is a story of the life of a young girl in Haiti, she wants to be a doctor, she wants to go to school but she lives in the country and must help her family with chores and work the garden. Sometimes she gives up portions of her food so her pregnant mother will have enough to eat. Then there is some changes to her life but then the earthquake happens. She still has hope through it all!
This is quite a story that I believe our middle grade students in America should read. It shows how lucky th
Jul 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Nov 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
"The only unbreakable home is one made from love."

What a poignant and moving little story. It's a fast, verse read that's full of hope and terrifying realities of a child growing up in extreme poverty in a third world country. Moving and full of great themes for young people to develop cultural awareness and empathy.
Sep 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gillie, dead-baby
I first became aware of this book when I saw Gillie's book report. 'I relate to the character because her mom had a boy baby that died and then had another baby, and so did my mom'. A couple months later, she recommended the book to me. When I was a few pages in, she asked me how I liked it. I must've hesitated when I said I did, because she became really alert. 'What, you don't really like it?'' she asked. 'No, I do. It's just really sad. There's a lot in there about losing her brother. It's li ...more
Wandering Librarians
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A verse novel that tells the story of a young girl living in Haiti during the time just before and during the earthquake that decimated the area. She is part of a poor family who is scraping a living out of the land and work in the city. She dreams of going to school and becoming a doctor after the woman doctor who treated her baby brother impressed her so much. I think the poetry format wasn't necessary. The book read more like prose than poetry and there seemed to be no rhythm or rhyme to the ...more
Apr 25, 2014 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
Abby Johnson
Sep 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was really good. I HIGHLY recommend this book!!!
Dana Vanderpool
Jun 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: multi-cultural
Alternatives to Book Reports:
"The US President has learned that you've read this book and wants
to know one thing a main character discovered about life that you
think all Americans should know. What would you tell him? Why?"

Serafina and her family live in Haiti and have always struggled with food, chores and school. Serafina is a very strong, determined girl and wanted to achieve her dream of becoming a doctor. She struggles to ease up on her work at home in order to put in that work in the cla
Sep 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: verse-novels
I've read several fantastic novels in verse this year, and while this one doesn't rank up there with Full Cicada Moon or Booked, it was still very good. Serafina is brave and strong in the face of countless adversities: poverty, flooding, sickness, earthquakes. And even though her situation is extreme, she still experiences the same emotions a typical pre-teen would have...resenting her chores, getting bored at school, being jealous of a friend. This will be great for my students who love verse ...more
Feb 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Lea Ann
Apr 26, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Adaline Griffiths
Feb 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Serafina's promise is a book told through "prose". Basically this is one very long narrative poem. Serafina has a dream. She and her best friend want to become doctors. But in their small village in Haiti there are many obstacles. Money, chores, and parents. Serafina's mother has endless worries, and she gives Serafina endless chores. How can Serafina become a doctor if she can't go to school? That's not the worst of it. There isn't enough food, and then comes the earthquake, and disaster. I rat ...more
Feb 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
I think novels in verse are very appealing to middle grade readers. This one is no exception. Serafina is a young girl growing up in Haiti who has many responsibilities around her home, yet she has a dream of one day going to school to become a doctor. We see her struggle with this dream and the lengths she has to go to in order to attend school. The heart of this novel is the importance of family, but this novel also addresses the extreme poverty of so many Haitian citizens before and after the ...more
Apr 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Beautiful novel in verse bringing the story of hope in a young Haitian girl's heart. Her dream to become a doctor survives flood and earthquake; she holds fast to her father's encouragement: "Look, the stars still shine." She shoos away worry, reminding herself that "Sometimes buzzing bees stay too long in our brains, but only because we let them." There is always hope -- "Life is hard, but no matter what happens, we beat the drum and we dance again." ...more
Laura Phelps
Aug 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: possiblemsba2013
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 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. ...more
Tara Mickela
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. ...more
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.
Susie Swenson
Touching story in free verse

While Serafina struggles with daily chores for her family's survival., she dreams of going to school and becoming a doctor. The touching story, written in free verse, follows Serafina's family through trials and triumphs as Serafina discovers what is most important to her in life. Recommended reading for intermediate grade students.
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book made me think how difficult life could be for those so young. Serafina faced many hardships as a young girl, wanting only to go to school and become a doctor. Through these hardships which are explained in verse, Serafina finds the courage to become closer to her dream, while gaining strength from those who love her the most.
Morgan Bishop
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing free-verse novel, this book tells the story of a young Haitian girl and her family. This is a great, quick read that I enjoyed as an adult, but would also be great for a middle school classroom! Think a kid's version of Nectar In a Sieve. Excellent read! ...more
Kimberly Carthy-Pierre
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A great book about overcoming life's obstacles and working hard to catch and live your dreams. ...more
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