Book Birthday Bash: Where the Watermelons Grow

Book Birthday Bash


Where the Watermelons Grow by Cindy Baldwin


Here’s a note from author Cindy Baldwin about this middle-grade novel:

“I first ‘met’ WHERE THE WATERMELONS GROW in an unusual way—I was singing the song ‘Down by the Bay’ to my then-one-year-old, and started thinking about how much the song put me in mind of a kid struggling to come to terms with her mother’s worsening mental illness. Before I knew it, it was a fully fledged book idea, complete with a Southern summer heat wave and a heroine who deeply loves her mother, but doesn’t always know how to show that. In writing WATERMELONS, it was important to me to show kids who might be living lives that don’t look quite like their peers that so much beauty can be found in an atypical life. While I don’t struggle with mental illness myself, I am disabled and have a serious genetic disease (cystic fibrosis), and as a kid, I really needed the reassurance that me and my life were valuable even though we looked a little different. My hope with WATERMELONS is to give that reassurance to any kid who feels like their life, their family situation, or their body aren’t quite like those of other kids—as well as normalizing portrayals of mental illness and the importance of honoring people who have mental illness (and other disabilities) without insisting that they be ‘cured’ first.”

We’re so happy you’re at our party for WHERE THE WATERMELONS GROW. Join in the fun…


Definitely “Down by the Bay,” since it provided the seed of inspiration for the book and also gets a brief mention in it! Also, Della’s mama has a beautiful singing voice (described as being able to call the birds down from the trees with its sweetness), and Della has grown up hearing her mama sing lullabies and old folk tunes. Cindy says: “Della’s family situation is loosely patterned after that of my great-grandparents, who were South Carolina farmers, and some of my earliest memories involve hearing my great-grandma sing us old Scottish ballads. I picture that kind of passed-through-the-generations music playing a big part in Della’s life!”


Everything watermelon, of course! Fresh watermelon, watermelon cakes, frozen watermelon limeade sweetened with honey (which is mentioned in the book!), sweet tea (though Cindy doesn’t drink it herself), and lots of fresh fruit, as a nod to Della’s family farm stand and the delicious produce they sell there.


Della and her best friend, Arden, love to color chalk murals together while they’re working the family farm stand. So at this party, you’ll have a bucket of sidewalk chalk and see who can draw the most realistic mural!


Little jars of fresh local honey, as a nod to the mysterious Bee Lady and her magical honey that cures all the town’s ailments!

Cindy Baldwin

Cindy Baldwin

WHERE THE WATERMELONS GROW is written by Cindy Baldwin and published by HarperCollins Children’s Books. You can buy this book at the retailers below…

Cindy Baldwin is a fiction writer, essayist, and poet. She grew up in North Carolina and still misses the sweet watermelons and warm accents on a daily basis. 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 writing the kind of books readers can’t bear to be without. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and daughter, surrounded by tall trees and wild blackberries.

Did you have fun at the party? Tell the author in the comments!

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