Melody is not like other children. She has cerebral palsy (CP), she can’t talk, she can’t walk, she can’t feed herself, she is completely dependent on those around her. However, she is extremely smart even if no one realizes it. She has a photographic memory; she remembers everything she has ever heard or seen. Melody has always been in the “special” class at school, but this year in 5th grade she is integrated into normal classes. She has also always been limited in her what she can say by her speech board, but that will all change when she gets a MediTalker to help her speak for herself. This is Melody’s story. It is about how she deals with life and how those around her deal with her.
I really enjoyed this book. I think Draper did an excellent job of showing what it is like to live with CP. I believe her daughter has CP so she does have personal experience to draw from. Melody is an inspirational character and one you really want to cheer for. She does not let her disability get her down even though she does have bad days. Her story makes you look at yourself a little differently and how you live your life and how you treat those around you.
As wonderful as I thought this book was I don’t think it is without flaws. I wonder about Melody’s situation in regards to real life. Would she really be in a special ed classroom until 5th grade when she is as bright as she is? She has a speech board but there are several times that she can’t tell her family things…why couldn’t she spell it out? Maybe this was just left out of the book but even as smart as she was wouldn’t she need some kind of language therapy or something to learn speech if she has never spoken or written language? Like I said maybe that is not written but it is implied but it really did seem like Melody was super smart (a little too smart maybe to be realistic) and didn’t need any help figuring things out; all she needed was something to help her talk.
The other thing I thought was really out of place was the ending with Penny. I thought that was thrown in out of no where and didn’t fit with the rest of what was going on at that point in the book. At that point the school drama was front and center and should have been the climax of the book. Then you throw in this chapter about Penny that just throws things off. I didn’t think it fit and I really didn’t think it was needed. I thought Draper should have stuck to the school issues and ended there.
Overall this was an excellent book despite my issues with it. It raises awareness of a disability that is not often discussed in children’s literature and it does it in a respectful and powerful way. I think kids will enjoy Melody’s story and be moved by it. 2012-13 Missouri Mark Twain Award Nominee.