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Written by Erica Darby
Melody Brooks, the protagonist, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after receiving an injury during the birth process. Due to this condition, she cannot control her limbs or speak. She is a spunky and witty young girl who longs to be able to do things like "normal' kids. Although Melody is not able to verbally communicate with those around her, she possesses the unsurpassable knowledge of everything that she has ever seen or heard. In spite of this grandiose skill, Melody finds herself a part of the isolated special needs classroom until the age of eleven. It is here that her journey makes a huge and unexpected change that will develop young Melody and help her to discover that the grass is not always greener on the other side.
The neighbor, Mrs. Violet Valencia, is the momentum and inspiration behind Melody’s dreams. Melody has memories as early as two of Mrs. V (as she calls her) challenging her to do more than others believe she is capable of. Throughout the story she is the voice of hope in Melody’s situations. She is the key person who assists Melody in learning her communication device. She is also instrumental in pushing Melody when she is frustrated; she does not allow her to use her disability as an excuse to give up.
Melody's fifth-grade teacher is Mrs. Shannon. While she does not have a lot of specific focus in the novel, her role is vital in regard to the development of Melody’s character. After a long history of horrible teachers the classroom at H5 finally have a teacher who treats them with the individual care that they need. She allows Melody to listen to books and takes the students to their inclusive classrooms. She gets the ball rolling, as they say, for the whole story to unfold.
Melody receives a student aid whose name is Catherine. Catherine and Mrs. V become the support system that Melody needs throughout her difficult journey. Catherine is a young college student working as an aid to assist Melody with tasks throughout the school day. However, she becomes so much more than that. As a friend, it is Catherine who helps Melody research information about talking computer devices to help Melody communicate. Catherine is a witness to the difficulties that Melody faces at school and is always available to help her work through those situations.
Her little sister, Penny, comes on the scene early in the book and seems to be a constant reminder of two things. First, she is a source of jealousy for Melody because she is “normal”, but also, she provides and sense of peace when Melody is upset. There are numerous occasions where Melody will be bummed out and glare at her little sister coloring or walking and resent her since she will never be able to do those things. At the same time, Melody says her sister “smells like watermelon” as she curls up in Melody’s bed to make her feel better more than once. Penny also provides a wakeup call for Melody when she is hit by the car.
Melody's mother is very kind and supported even though she does not always understand what Melody is trying to communicate. She does not play a large role in the development of the story, but it constant in support of Melody. There are a couple of times in the story where she becomes frustrated at Melody's actions because she does not understand her behavior, such as during the goldfish scene and the car incident. Overall, she shows her support of Melody by treating her with things that she likes and taking up for her when she can.
Melody's father is also encouraging and supportive. He speaks directly and personally to Melody from a very young age. He also plays a small role in the development of the story, but in every situation shows his support of Melody. He gets very frustrated at the air port and punches a wall as a result of Melody being left behind. This demonstrates his love for her and his desire to see her succeed.
Mr. Dimming is not necessarily a positive character, but one could certainly say he is a reason for Melody pushing herself. First, he does not believe in her – he second guesses her ability and discourages her from trying out for the Whiz Kids. This fuels Melody to prove him wrong and eventually in the end, he comes around to respecting Melody.
Rose is Melody's first "normal" friend. She smiles at Melody and allows her to sit beside her during her first inclusive class. While she does not always do the right thing as Melody's friend, she is overall a good friend who shows kindness to Melody. She attends the aquarium as Melody's guest and is her teammate on the Whiz Kids.
Conner is another fellow student who participates on the Whiz Kids. He is large and somewhat goofy, but all the while intelligent. He is kind to Melody and takes up for her.
Claire and Molly
Claire and Molly are best friends and students in Melody's class who also take part in the Whiz Kids. They bully Melody in the classroom and say unkind things about her. Claire lies about being best friends with Melody during a television interview so she can get attention and then later on throws up on Mr. Dimmerman's shoes at the restaurant where they were celebrating.
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