About the Author-
- Sharon M. Draper is a New York Times bestselling author and recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award honoring her significant and lasting contribution to writing for teens. She has received the Coretta Scott King Award for both Copper Sun and Forged by Fire. Her Out of My Mind has won multiple awards and has been a New York Times bestseller for well over a year. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she taught high school English for twenty-five years and was named National Teacher of the Year. Visit her at SharonDraper.com.
February 15, 2010
Melody Brooks, in a wheelchair and unable to speak, narrates this story about finding her voice. The first half of the book catalogues Melody's struggles—from her frustration with learning the same preschool lessons year after year to her inability to express a craving for a Big Mac. Draper, whose daughter has cerebral palsy, writes with authority, and the rage behind Melody's narrative is perfectly illustrated in scenes demonstrating the startling ignorance of many professionals (a doctor diagnoses Melody as “profoundly retarded”), teachers, and classmates. The lack of tension in the plot is resolved halfway through when Melody, at age 10, receives a talking computer, allowing her to “speak.” Only those with hearts of stone won't blubber when Melody tells her parents “I love you” for the first time. Melody's off-the-charts smarts are revealed when she tests onto her school's quiz bowl team, and the story shifts to something closer to The View from Saturday
than Stuck in Neutral
. A horrific event at the end nearly plunges the story into melodrama and steers the spotlight away from Melody's determination, which otherwise drives the story. Ages 10–up.
- Newbery winner Sharon Draper tells the story of a 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy who, thanks to committed parents and a special neighbor, will not be held back. In spite of her physical limitations, Melody uses her intelligence and spunk to expand her world. Sisi Aisha Johnson gives voice to Melody's thoughts and feelings. Johnson's attempt to give each character a unique voice, however, is not quite successful; sometimes the wrong voice comes out of a character. Although the story is set in the world of laptop computers and video games, the attitudes of the teachers and the psychologist who assume that Melody can't learn predate the days of inclusion and equal access to education. N.E.M. (c) AudioFile 2010, Portland, Maine
Starred review from October 31, 2016
This long-overdue audio narration of Draper’s 2010 middle grade novel is a breakout performance for voice actress Johnson, who skillfully brings together childlike sensitivity and grown-up gravitas as she gives life to Draper’s character Melody Brooks. Confined to a wheelchair, Melody is physically trapped by cerebral palsy, but the condition hasn’t slowed her prodigious mind; Melody is a genius, as her parents have always suspected and her fifth-grade classmates and teachers are about to find out. Johnson captures Melody’s frustration when she cannot communicate, her elation when technological advances finally allow her to, and her sadness when others still regard her with fear or suspicion. Johnson also voices the novel’s other characters with wisdom and compassion, including Melody’s parents and the tough-as-nails neighbor who pushes the girl to excel. Older children and their parents will enjoy the way Johnson brings life to this unforgettable character. Ages 10–up. An Atheneum paperback.
- Narrator Sisi Aisha Johnson puts 11-year-old Melody's active mind and vivacious personality front and center, focusing, as Melody herself does, on what she CAN do more than what, as a girl who cannot speak and relies on a wheelchair, she cannot. Johnson is expressive and works well with accents, creating distinct voices that round out the personalities that surround Melody. When she gets a computer that allows her to communicate more clearly and directly than she's ever been able to, it leads to her join her school's quiz team. It's Melody whom Johnson captures best, though, giving a well-rounded portrait of someone whose life is not about her cerebral palsy. Particularly good for family listening. A.F. � AudioFile 2016, Portland, Maine
PublisherSimon & Schuster Audio
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