Juvenile Fiction (Grades 4 - 7)
Words have always swirled around me like snowflakes - each one delicate and different, each one melting untouched in my hands.
Eleven-year-old Melody has words running through her head constantly, hundreds of thousands of glorious words. Words like pomegranite, mayonnaise, neopolitan, Mississippi, and sneeze. She has a photographic memory and drinks in the words that swirl around her like lemonade on a hot day.
Despite her love of words, Melody has never spoken a single word herself. She has cerebral palsy and has very little control over her body. She relies on other people to feed her, bathe her, and take her to the bathroom. She can only communicate by pointing at words that others have chosen for her. She is in many ways a prisoner in her own mind.
This is a very moving story of triumph and overcoming obstacles. Melody is immediately likeable as a normal 5th grade girl who wants to have friends and wear cool clothes. On the inside, she's just like all of her classmates, but when she's wheeled into class in her wheelchair, she sometimes drools, makes funny noises, and loses control of her limbs. She's bursting to tell the world who she is, but her limitations prevent her from being able to do so.
The heroes of this story are, of course Melody herself, and those who care for her, like her parents, her aid at school Catherine, and her larger-than-life neighbor Ms. V. who never stops cheering Melody on. There are villains - the mean girls who make fun of Melody when she loses control of herself, and a history teacher who refuses to allow her potential to blossom.
This is a very important book for elementary school aged children and will likely change the way they view children with disabilities at their schools. Readers will root for Melody, feel her pain, and celebrate her triumphs. Looking for more heartwarming fiction about overcoming obstacles associated with disabilities? Try Rules by Cynthia Lord or the Joey Pigza books by Jack Gantos.