Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Booktalk: Out of My Mind (Virginia Readers' Choice)

Melody has been forced to be silent her entire life. She's 11 years and in 5th grade, but she has never spoken a single word ever. She's got a condition called cerebral palsy, and this means she can't control her body, can't walk, and can't talk. Her brain is fine, though, and she's very smart. Melody is a cool, witty, and normal kid in so many ways. She laughs when she reads Garfield, loves animals, and craves McDonalds milkshakes.
   Finally, her parents agree to buy her a high-tech machine that "talks" for her as she types. It's incredibly expensive and complicated, but as she gets better at "talking" via the computer, her classmates and teachers realize how very smart she really is. For example, she knows all the U.S. presidents and vice presidents inside out. She has a massive vocabulary and a brilliant memory for facts.
   Melody is so smart and starts doing so well in her classes that she wins a place on her school's competitive academic travel team. The team is going to travel to Washington, D.C. for a big competition. Melody is studying so hard at home: she's spending hours and hours memorizing more facts, learning newer and harder subjects, and even inventing her own games so that she'll be able to compete better. For the competition, though, Melody will be out of her element, and travel is really hard on you when you have cerebral palsy. There's also the question of how well her team mates will treat her. Will Melody have both the academic skills and the social skills to endure this competition? Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper.

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. 295 p. New York: Atheneum Books, 2010. Booktalk to intermediate grades, middle school, lower high school. Virginia Readers' Choice for 2011-2012.

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