Sunday, March 20, 2016

Out of my mind by Sharon M Draper

My advice is Read this Book!

Last week I visited a new Children's and Young Adult bookshop in our suburb.  The owner and her enthusiastic assistant recommended heaps of new books and among them was Out of my mind. This is not a new book but I had somehow missed it.  First published in 2010 it was a NY Times best seller and short listed for several awards including The Black-Eyed Susan Book award, the Texas Blue Bonnet master list for 2012 and the Beehive book award plus many other listings.

On the front cover you can see a fish jumping out of its bowl.  The scene in the book where this actually happens might show you the emotional impact of this amazing book.

"I screamed again.  Louder, I cried out. I yelled. I screeched. Ollie continued to flop and gasp, looking more desperate. Ollie needed water. ... 'Melody! What have you done? Why did you knock over the fishbowl?' ... There was no way I could explain to Mom what had happened.  I really had tired to save Ollie's life.  ... She was angry, and I was too."

Melody has Cerebral Palsy and as a result she cannot speak or perform even the simplest of daily activities without assistance but in spite of this Melody is a highly intelligent girl who demonstrates enormous patience with her extremely difficult life circumstances.  I have to say I 'fell in love with this wonderful girl' and I especially admire the way she loves her little sister even when she sees Penny learning to do all the everyday things Melody herself will never be able to experience.

I am trying not to give away too much of the plot but you will be richly rewarded when you read this book right to the end.  There is a scene in chapter 29 which will linger with me forever.  One other thing I should mention - there are several heroes in this story.  Melody's mum and dad of course, her school aide Catherine and the most wonderful person of all, her neighbour Mrs Violet Valencia.

"From the very beginning, Mrs Valencia gave me no sympathy.  Instead of sitting me in the special little chair my parents had bought for me, she plopped me on my back in the middle of the floor on a large, soft quilt. ... I looked up at her like she was crazy.... (she) put my favourite toy a few inches from my head."

I don't often rate books but I give Out of my Mind ten out of ten.  It is even better than the other famous book dealing with disabilities - Wonder.

Take a minute to read the stared Kirkus review.   It would be good to continue your discussions of this topic with a class so here is a book list which might assist you and here is a Pinterest collection of Picture books on the topic of disabilities.  Take a look at the author web site for a Q&A with Sharon Draper and a very detailed study guide to assist your class study.

You might also enjoy So B. It by Sarah Weeks, Wonder, Waiting for Normal, and Counting by 7s.

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