Home > Mock Newbery 2011 > Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

Publication Date: March 9, 2010
Reviewed For: Grades 4 – 6

Journal Review / Summary
Born with cerebral palsy, Melody, 10, has never spoken a word. She is a brilliant fifth grader trapped in an uncontrollable body. Her world is enhanced by insight and intellect, but gypped by physical limitations and misunderstandings. She will never sing or dance, talk on the phone, or whisper secrets to her friends. She’s not complaining, though; she’s planning and fighting the odds. In her court are family, good neighbors, and an attentive student teacher. Pitted against her is the “normal” world: schools with limited resources, cliquish girls, superficial assumptions, and her own disability. Melody’s life is tragically complicated. She is mainly placed in the special-ed classroom where education means being babysat in a room with replayed cartoons and nursery tunes. Her supportive family sets her up with a computer. She learns the strength of thumbs as she taps on a special keyboard that finally lets her “talk.” When she is transitioned into the regular classroom, Melody’s undeniable contribution enables her class to make it to the national quiz team finals. Then something happens that causes her to miss the finals, and she is devastated by her classmates’ actions. Kids will benefit from being introduced to Melody and her gutsy, candid, and compelling story. It speaks volumes and reveals the quiet strength and fortitude it takes to overcome disabilities and the misconceptions that go with them.  – SLJ

Presentation of Information (accuracy, clarity, information):
Obviously we have no way of knowing how accurate Draper’s representation of Melody is – but even if it isn’t, she’s written a book that will make anyone who read it think twice before looking down at someone in a wheelchair for any reason – not just cerebral palsy.  “I really don’t think so. My problem with these books is the author’s first person narration. They both seem to make a lot of assumptions about what people with these conditions think. Personally, I think books like Rules work so well because it’s told from the perspective of someone trying to understand (but also because the author has a son with autism.)  Not that authors can’t attempt this, but I just didn’t think either of these books seemed terribly well researched.” – Dana, GoodReads

Delineation of a setting:
To me, the setting isn’t that important in this book – the setting is less the physical world of where Melody is from scene to scene and more Melody’s mind itself, which is richly described.  Of course, the limitations of the world around her are important when considering her wheelchair.

Delineation of a plot:
The plot starts off very strongly but the more we get to know Melody the more melodramatic the plot seems to become.  It gets too predictable.

Delineation of characters:
Melody is an incredibly strong character with a fierce heart and mind.  The people who both help and hinder her life are also strong characters – and I think the incredible strength and description of each character contributes to the melodrama of the book’s plot.

Appropriateness of style:
This isn’t the first book told from the perspective of someone with cerebral palsy, and I doubt it will be the last.

Interpretation of the theme or concept:
The theme is definitely strong throughout the entire book.

Excellence of presentation for a child audience:
Realistic fiction fans are going to love it.

Concluding Newbery Thoughts:
I’m with most of the people on GoodReads – it’s too melodramatic for me to expect a Newbery, but nonetheless, I think it’s going to get an Honor at least.

Categories: Mock Newbery 2011
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