No Ordinary Sound: A Melody Classic
by Denise Lewis Patrick
Cover Review: Like all of American Girl's novels, it feels like a photo and a painting. You can easily tell what era she's from by her clothing and hairstyle. If you want the exact year, look next to her name on the cover.
The Blurb: Melody Ellison is an optimistic, enthusiastic girl growing up in Detroit, Michigan during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. She's excited and proud to share a special surprise with her family- she's been chosen to sing a solo for Youth Day at her church! But what song will she choose? She gets advice from her big brother, and is also inspired by her older sister, but it's the inspirational words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that help her pick the perfect song.
There are many unfair things happening during Melody's time, even to people in her own family. But it's an unimaginable tragedy in the South that leaves Melody silent. Who can help her lift her voice and sing- who will inspire her to "keep stepping"?
Yes, I picked an American Girl book. And yes, I still enjoy them. But why did I choose this one specifically?
Because it made me think, despite the fact it's meant for middle grade readers. This book is an excellent example of knowing your time period. Melody is growing up during the civil rights movement, a tumultuous time in American history. Because of her age, she sees the events differently. It shows the unfairness of what's going on, and how hard it was to grow up African American then.
Melody herself is a delightful protagonist for the age level of the book. She has many talents, but also has doubts about herself and her singing abilities. She has older siblings that help show her how the world reacts to African Americans. It also has an interesting note in the front about all the different terms used to describe them in the '60s, as well as a discussion about how the different generations use them.
The plot is simple and the characters not amazing. But sometimes I think we need to read books for younger children, with protagonists of their age, to remember that a story is more than a stellar plot, 3-D characters, and amazing worlds. Stories are about people, and how we relate to them.
Do you like to read books for younger kids once in a while? How important do you think relatability is in books? Let me know in the comments.