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Beginners Welcome

4.61  ·  Rating details ·  61 ratings  ·  32 reviews
The acclaimed author of Where the Watermelons Grow is back with a story perfect for fans of Lynda Mullaly Hunt and Ali Benjamin, about finding friendship after a tragic loss.

It’s been eighty-three days since Annie Lee’s daddy died, but she still sees reminders of him everywhere. His record player mysteriously plays his favorite songs, there’s shaving cream in the sink
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 11th 2020 by Quill Tree Books (first published January 21st 2020)
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Average rating 4.61  · 
Rating details
 ·  61 ratings  ·  32 reviews

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Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jul 30, 2019 added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Kristin Crouch
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Cassie Thomas
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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. . ...more
May 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful, moving story about people learning to be brave through difficult things. Would absolutely recommend to anybody and everybody.
Katie Reilley
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Laura Gardner
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 her mother
Ms. Yingling
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jen Petro-Roy
Absolutely lovely.
Laurie Hnatiuk
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 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
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Karen McKenna
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Deanna Holdsworth
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cindy Baldwin has written a realistic fiction book about family, friendship and heartache that will have you turning pages quickly to finish the book.

Annie Lee's father has passed away suddenly. This means many adjustments for Annie Lee and her mother. The biggest, apart from his death, is a new apartment in a new neighborhood. Mom is dealing with insurance, trying to get more money, and has begun to work six days a week. This leaves Annie Lee alone after school. She finds her way to a mall
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It’s not easy opening your heart again after a devastating loss. In fact, Annie Lee would prefer to stay invisible and just “go through the motions.” In Cindy Baldwin’s second novel, BEGINNERS WELCOME, Annie Lee is grieving the sudden death of her father—it has taken both an emotional and financial toll on her and her mother. Not only are they struggling to make ends meet, they are having a difficult time accepting the fact that he is really gone with peculiar reminders of his presence all ...more
Sara Magnafichi
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to author, Cindy Baldwin, for sharing a copy with #collabookation. Annie Lee recently lost her father suddenly. Everything she knows has come to a halt. There's no money, even though her mom is working endless hours. There's no happiness in their house anymore. No music, no smiles, no laughter.. just the sound of her mother crying day after day. Annie Lee is struggling with her own emotions, as she hears and sees her father everywhere; smelling his aftershave, hearing his favorite ...more
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
Oct 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to the Kid Lit Exchange network, Harper Books, and author Cindy Baldwin for the advance copy of this February 2020 release. All opinions are my own. #partner

/5 for this heartfelt story about grief and bravery. Annie Lee’s daddy died suddenly, leaving she and her mama with very little life insurance money. While her mama waits to find out what happened to the extra life insurance money her father said he paid for, she has to pick up hours cleaning houses, leaving Annie Lee home alone
Patricia Murphy
Feb 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a heart-yanking, yet healing story beautifully told. Cindy Baldwin writes a story of the tough emotional struggle of young Annie Lee losing her dad and subsequently, learning to be brave after his sudden loss. Annie Lee endures it alone, nevertheless makes new connections and follows a power of music passion. She meets Ray, an old piano genius, whose wisdom and talent are graciously given. He is such a sweet and real character—they all are. Annie Lee is making new bonds and so we see the ...more
JK Gagnon
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I loved ‘Where the Watermelons Grow’ and was thrilled to get my hands on an ARC of ‘Beginners Welcome’. This book was so heart warming, with vibrant, relatable characters. I find both of Baldwin’s novels to be just so empathetic and thoughtful that they are a great read regardless of age. These books cover difficult topics with such grace and kindness that they make me feel better having read the novel. I will be picking this one up for my home library and aggressively recommending it.
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book made me feel the way The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise did. My heart was as tentative as Annie Lee’s, but the music and the people opened it all the way up. I’m so grateful to have had the chance to read Cindy Baldwin’s new book before its release! I’m already thinking of the readers (young and old) who I’ll share it with. If you’re looking for a story of turning a corner, finding true friends, or giving yourself a chance to be your best self, this book is for you. ...more
Melanie Shurtz
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful book. I read an ARC of this and I can’t wait for it to be published. I plan to put it on my classroom library. I feel that even preteen me (if I could go back to being a preteen while reading it) would love this book. My three favorite books at that are were about death and how to move on. This definitely would have been another favorite book about death and moving on. I think this topic was handled well and I know there are young people out there that need a book like this.
Feb 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written, sad yet hopeful. Loved the characters, setting, relationships. The stress and magic of the plot pulled me in! Also enjoyed the song & book references - I was brought up on all the same stuff!
Feb 07, 2020 rated it liked it
This was given to me at the bookstore as an advanced reader's edition. About loss, healing, love, courage, and friendship between generations. Although it is a young readers book, I enjoyed it and am passing it on to my granddaughter.
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. My heart broke for Annie Lee & her mom. I cheered when she finally started to find friends, and was sad when things started to come crashing down again. Highly recommend!!!! ...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