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Beginners Welcome

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  289 ratings  ·  85 reviews
Annie Lee’s daddy won’t stop leaving his record player on. His whiskers are in the sink every morning. And he always keeps the TV turned to Duke basketball. Except Annie Lee’s daddy died eighty-three days ago. 

Annie Lee doesn’t like the word “ghost,” but whatever is going on isn’t making things easier for her and Mama. It doesn’t help that Mama works around the clock, ba
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published February 11th 2020 by Quill Tree Books (first published January 21st 2020)
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Average rating 4.22  · 
Rating details
 ·  289 ratings  ·  85 reviews

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Jul 30, 2019 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
I am so excited to share BEGINNERS WELCOME with the world in just a few months! I figured I'd use this space to share a little about the book. Although it is unrelated to WHERE THE WATERMELONS GROW, I'm hoping that readers who enjoyed that one will love BEGINNERS WELCOME, too! You'll recognize some of the same things: a preteen girl dealing with a heavy problem, a complex mother/daughter relationship, a magic-infused contemporary setting, and a plotline that has a lot to do with the heroine lear ...more
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Subtly magical, and full of so many other good things: music, dogs, the satisfaction of watching an egg go SPLAT! on the sidewalk. I loved Annie Lee, her parents, her friends, and the life she was trying to find for herself after the huge loss she had suffered. I know this will sound weird, but for a book where music plays such a huge part, the book felt very quiet to me. Annie Lee tries to be invisible, her mother, her friend Mitch, and others around her are quiet people as well. And because th ...more
Apr 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All the feels, beautiful story. Tears of all kinds happening.

Highly recommend. Can't think of anything else to say.
Shaye Miller
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: overdrive
This is such a beautiful, heart strings book full of love, loss, vulnerability, and friendship. Annie Lee's daddy died just a few months ago. He was never a planner because he lived in the moment. So Annie and her mother are left with only a tiny insurance policy while they can barely make ends meet. Annie Lee makes a new friend at school and their friendship blossoms into something quite beautiful. Annie begins sneaking away to the mall across town to take private piano lessons with an elderly ...more
Kristin Crouch
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to the author for sharing an ARC with Collabookation.
Annie Lee's dad died suddenly over the summer, and her world is upended. Her dad was the fun parent, the parent with whom she could talk and laugh, the parent she felt most herself with. With her mom suffering through the depths of grief, worrying about finances, and working around the clock, Annie Lee finds herself a relatively peaceful place listening to an older man play piano at the mall. When she hears him play, she can see the
May 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful, moving story about people learning to be brave through difficult things. Would absolutely recommend to anybody and everybody.
Cassie Thomas
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Finished Annie Lee’s story last night. The last few chapters made me laugh and cry. I wish my daddy would visit me in the ways that hers had, and I wish so badly I could have the same dreams, but there was some serious wisdom between her and her mama - and I thank you for that. A story revolving around grief, with so much more intertwined - unlikely friendships, change, growth, and the will to move forward under the hardest circumstances. 💚🎹. Out February 2020. .
I don't know how Cindy Baldwin does it, but she somehow puts truth into fiction in a way that both breaks my heart and heals it.

I don't often talk about myself in Goodreads, and I don't plan to do so much here. However, I need to explain that I lost my mother to a heart attack when I was 14. In Baldwin's book, Annie Lee's father died suddenly, 83 days before the book begins.

I will try to say more later, and more coherently. For now, I can only say that every beat of Annie Lee's emotional journ
Kimberly Hornberger
I quite loved this little story. I liked Annie Lee and this coming of age story. I loved the touch of magic and the insights on friendship, what it means to be seen and the necessity of grieving.
Katie Reilley
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to the author and Harper Collins Children’s for sharing an ARC with our #bookexpedition group.

Annie Lee misses her daddy. It’s been eighty-three days since he suddenly passed away, but the apartment where she and her mama live is full of his presence. The smell of his aftershave and hairs in the bathroom sink and the CD player and TV turning on by themselves to play his favorite song & show are all constant reminders of the void she and her mama feel.

With her mama working full-time.
Sep 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thank you to the author and publisher for an ARC of this book for #bookportage.

Fans of WHERE THE WATERMELONS GROW will not be disappointed with Cindy Baldwin's upcoming middle grade read, BEGINNERS WELCOME (release date Feb 2020). Cindy writes with the same emotionality that strongly connects the reader to her story and characters, but tells the story of Annie Lee and her experience moving forward after losing her dad a few months ago.

Annie Lee and her mom are still reeling from the unexpected d
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to the author and publisher for sharing an ARC with #booksojourn.

Annie Lee has experienced the devastating loss of her father, and she and her mom are struggling emotionally and financially. To avoid the weight of her mom’s grief, and the ghost that seems to be following them, Annie Lee hides beneath an “invisibility cloak” to protect her heart from more hurt. While her mom works long hours, Annie Lee ventures beyond her neighborhood and discovers Ray, an elderly pianist who makes mag
Karen McKenna
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everything a middle grade book should be. I loved the complicated relationships Annie Lee learns to navigate as she experiments with taking off her invisibility cloak and opening up her heart again. It has only been a few months since Annie Lee lost her father unexpectedly, but his ghost still haunts both Annie Lee and her mother. Sometimes Annie Lee wishes it had been her mother she had lost instead. Her father was the one who could understand her. But her father was also impractical and failed ...more
Laura Gardner
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to @cindybaldwinbooks and @kidlitexchange for this free copy. BEGINNERS WELCOME is out 2/11/20; pre-order now! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5!!
“Sometimes love meant holding on. But sometimes it meant letting go.”
Annie Lee and her mother are on the edge of poverty and despair since her father died suddenly almost three months ago. Her father’s spirit is lingering in their home in the form of stubble in the sink each morning, smells in the kitchen, the TV turning on randomly and more. Annie Lee and
Ms. Yingling
Nov 05, 2019 rated it liked it
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Annie Lee was very close to her father, so she is still reeling from his recent death. It doesn't help that odd things are happening, like whiskers left in the sink or radios that suddenly play his music, that make Annie and her mother feel like his ghost is still with them. It also doesn't help that his life insurance hasn't come through, and the two are struggling to get by on the mother's salary cleaning houses. Annie must stay by herself in the afternoons, and
Arianne Costner
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most gorgeously written books I have ever read! Cindy is so great at pulling and describing emotions. She writes so poetically, in a way that really helps the reader see the world through her character’s eyes. I finished it pretty quickly, as I wanted to see how the issue with the daddy’s ghost resolved. I found the ending satisfying, and very sweet. As a musician, I really loved the descriptions of music. Anyone with a passion for music would appreciate this book
Sarah Allen
Feb 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
You guys. THIS BOOK. This book will reach in and heal your heart and stretch it and crack it and heal it again. I am so grateful to Cindy for telling hard stories that are so, so necessary. Everything from the overall structure to line level voice is just so exquisite. One thing I'm jealous of--Cindy does physicality of emotion so freaking well. Like, how??? And that kind of careful writing just makes this book that much more powerful. ...more
Jen Petro-Roy
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely lovely.
Jun 10, 2020 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
This book is beautifully written and I want to find out what happens next, but at the same time it hurts my heart to read about this family struggling with such a great loss. It's too personal right now, so I may revisit in a few years. ...more
Feb 24, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Our girl and her mom are struggling to deal with the death of their dad/husband. A bit of a sad story, but with lots of hope.
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Book Report “Beginners Welcome”

Name of the book: Beginners Welcome

Author: Cindy Baldwin

Date: 5/17/20

Main Characters: Annie Lee

Characters who I like and reasons: My favorite character is Annie Lee because even though life is really tough for her and her mother must work long hours and doesn't have any clothes she still tries to find joy in her life and does not give up.

Summarize in three sentences:
Beginners Welcome is the story of a young girl named Annie Lee who
loses her father after a sudden d
Apr 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful & poignant story with powerful themes about family, friendship, loss, and connection, even beyond death. I loved the musical elements and how they coincided with Annie’s character arc. It’s a slower paced, quiet story with a powerful, heartwarming message, perfect for that 8-12 age group.
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Beginner’s Welcome by Cindy Baldwin, 325 pages. HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2020. $17.

Language: G (1 Swear, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: G



Trying to navigate the loss of her father at such a young age, Annie Lee is feeling a little lost. Life changed for Annie Lee in so many ways after her father had passed away, at the beginning of the summer before her sixth grade year. She was having a very hard time dealing with her grief
Allison Renner
Thanks to @kidlitexchange and @harperbooks for sharing Beginners Welcome by @cindybaldwinbooks. This book publishes on February 11, 2020, so go ahead and add it to your wishlist! You won’t want to miss out on this touching, inspiring story.

Annie Lee’s home life hasn’t been the same since her daddy died, and that’s not just because it seems like his spirit is still lingering in the apartment. Annie Lee’s mom works long hours, and since Annie Lee’s friends didn’t know how to relate after her dad’s
Jenn Bishop
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Such a beautiful story. Cindy Baldwin is one of my favorite MG writers writing today. Her first two books are absolute gems.
Laurie Hnatiuk
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, middle-grade
Thank you to the author and publisher for an ARC of this book for #bookportage.

I was thrilled to read Beginner's Welcome after reading Where the Watermelons Grow. Once again, Cindy Baldwin tackles a tough emotional topic about a young girl who is left to fend for herself and learn how to cope.

Annie Lee is a young girl who loves her father and his sense of fun, and while she gets along with her mother, she connects more with her dad. When she loses her father suddenly, her world is turned upsid
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to the author and the publisher for an advance copy of this book. All opinions are my own. I will be sharing this book with @kidlitexchange. Reviewers, you are in for a treat!

Eighty three days ago, Annie Lee’s daddy dropped dead on the church basketball court. And every morning since then, Annie Lee had awakened to her mama crying in the bathroom. The bathroom is in a cramped apartment, in a new neighborhood they had to move to because no one had planned for her daddy to be gone. Her b
Baobablady (Stacy Greene)
Mar 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Tweens, teens, and adults who want to understand
Shelves: reviewed
There is only one word to describe this author: AMAZING! I loved this book. It has everything you would want in a book. The book is contemporary and full of emotion, mystery, suspense, hope, and magic. It is a poignant story of a girl, Annie Lee (a.k.a. Al) and her struggle to deal with the unexpected loss of her father. It is a story of loneliness as Annie Lee tries to get through each day while feeling so very alone. The story has mystery - mysterious happenings and a record player, radio and ...more
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to the Kid Lit Exchange network and Harper Books for the review copy of this book by Cindy Baldwin. All opinions are my own.

Cindy Baldwin has done it again! Fans of Where the Watermelons Grow will LOVE this book! Cindy Baldwin has a gift for writing in a way that is both emotional and realistic.

Annie Lee has a lot on her shoulders. Eighty-three days ago, her father suddenly dropped dead while playing a game of basketball at church. The grief alone feels like it may crush her, and the sudd
Oct 28, 2019 added it
Shelves: read-in-2019
A lovely story about finding hope and community after a devastating loss. Like Cindy Baldwin's debut, WHERE THE WATERMELONS GROW, BEGINNERS WELCOME is a richly descriptive novel about a determined, relatable kid who's dealing with overwhelming challenges and emotions. Annie Lee's daddy died unexpectedly a few months before the book opens. She and her mom have had to move to a different part of town, so she has to start at a new school where she doesn't know anybody, and she has grown apart from ...more
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Cindy Baldwin is a Carolina girl who moved to the opposite coast and is gamely doing her part in keeping Portland weird. As a middle schooler, she kept a book under her bathroom sink to read over and over while fixing her hair or brushing her teeth, and she dreams of someday writing just that kind of book. Her debut middle grade novel, WHERE THE WATERMELONS GROW, received multiple starred reviews ...more

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