Out of My Mind

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Melody is eleven years old and has never said a single word.  She also has a photographic memory so she remembers being a baby, remembers every show she has ever seen on TV, remembers the commercials too, remembers songs, factoids, everything.  All those words are trapped in her head, unable to be released.  Her parents know she is bright, but how could anyone know just how smart Melody actually is with her cerebral palsy being all that they can see?  At school she is in the classroom for those with special needs where the quality of instruction varies from year to year. One year she was subjected to the alphabet over and over again along with a CD of nursery rhymes.  Pure torture!  So when Melody realizes that she needs a computer to help her talk, everyone had better be ready to hear what she has to say!

This in-depth character study is beautifully done.  Melody is a character with charisma, brilliance and a sassy attitude that is integral to her personality.  Despite being unable to speak, Melody will speak deeply to any reader who takes the time to meet her.  Draper does not sugarcoat Melody’s disability.  She does not make the people around Melody too perfect and good.  Instead everyone is human, especially Melody. 

Draper brought me to tears several times in the novel.  From spectacular moments of Melody speaking to the cruelty of other children, this book offers such highs and lows.  And through it all, living it all, we have Melody, a true heroine, an amazing person, and someone we all should get to know.

The cover is wonderful with its fish out of water theme and a direct tie to the storyline.  I love the contrast of the pale blue and bright orange, because Melody is such a flash of bright color in the novel.

This will make a brilliant read aloud for a classroom of 5th or 6th graders.  It will also be adored by single readers who will find Melody a person worth spending time with.  Appropriate for ages 9-13, this book is a real winner.

Reviewed from library copy.

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Hans Christian Andersen Award – 2010 Shortlist

IBBY (The International Board on Books for Young People) has announced their 2010 Shortlist.  Five authors and five illustrators have been selected from a field of 55 nominees from 32 nations.


Ahmad Reza Ahmadi from Iran

David Almond from the United Kingdom

Bartolomeu Campos de Queiros from Brazil

Lennart Hellsing from Sweden

Louis Jensen from Denmark


Jutta Bauer from Germany

Carll Cneut from Belgium

Etienne Delessert from Switzerland

Svjetlan Junakovic from Croatia

Roger Mello from Brazil

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