I found American Girl Beforever: No Ordinary Sound by Denise Lewis Patrick at the library. I was very surprised to find it because I didn’t even know that the book was available already. This is the first story featuring the new American Girl doll Melody Ellison.
Melody Ellison is a nine-year-old girl living in Detroit in 1963. She is the youngest of four children: her oldest sister Yvonne attends Tuskegee University, Dwayne loves to sing, and Lila is in middle school. Melody also has a dog named Bojangles.
As the story begins, Melody has exciting news to share: she has been picked to sing a solo at a Youth Day event in the fall. Melody is even more excited about her cousin moving from Alabama to Detroit. Melody and her family experience prejudice throughout the story. Yvonne applies for a summer job at a bank; she is told there are no positions available, but she overhears the manager telling a white girl that there are several positions still available. Dwayne and Melody are denied service at a department store, and accused of stealing. Melody is inspired by Martin Luther King, and is excited about the opportunity to hear him speak when he comes to Detroit. When Melody hears about a devastating event, she becomes too scared to sing the beautiful song she has been practicing for all summer. Will Melody get her voice back in time to sing her solo for Youth Day?
No Ordinary Sound presents information about the Civil Rights movement. The material is age appropriate for the target audience, but it is very eye-opening to see the unfair ways in which Melody and her family are treated. Some of the moments are subtle; Melody’s cousin is amazed that they are allowed to go to the public library, and that they can walk through the front door. This was something that Melody’s cousin was not allowed to do when she lived in Alabama. On a happier note, I was also impressed with the strong role that Melody’s faith played in her story; excerpts from hymns appear throughout the book. Although Melody experiences a tragedy, her family and faith play a strong role in overcoming her obstacles.
No Ordinary Sound is a wonderful book. We own most of the American Girl historical books, and I plan on purchasing our own copy of this book. These books provide insight into American history, allowing children to see what life was like in that time period through the eyes of girls living during that era. Even though these girls come from different time periods and different cultural background, their experiences are undeniably American.
I would absolutely recommend No Ordinary Sound to American Girl fans. My oldest daughter and I are looking forward to reading the of Melody’s story, and seeing her collection when the Melody Ellison doll is released later this year!