Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Mindful Words

Words.  I'm surrounded by thousands of words.  Maybe millions. 
          Cathedral. Mayonnaise.Pomegranate.
          Mississippi. Neapolitan. Hippopotamus.
          Silky. Terrifying. Iridescent.
          Tickle. Sneeze. Wish. Worry. 
 Words have always swirled around me like snowflakes-each one delicate and different, each one melting untouched in my hands.
Deep within me, words pile up in huge drifts.

So begins Out of my mind by Sharon M. Draper; clearly a book about expression, thought and use of words.  In this case it is about a ten year old girl named Melody that has never uttered a single word.  At birth Melody was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.  Though limited by her physical disabilities her mind is a thing of beauty recording the sights and sounds around her like a well designed camera.  All she needs to do is see or hear something once and it becomes part of her memories ready to be recalled at a moment's notice. 
While she silently morns that she will never participate in those activities small or large, quiet or noisy, that other girls her age are able to do, she has a resilience that is heroic.  A next door neighbor, Mrs. Violet Valencia, in addition to her supportive parents, is key to helping this young woman give voice to her thoughts. And thank goodness for the arrival of a student teacher in her special classroom. 

Through a newly acquired piece of technology Melody can select from words that have been entered in using her thumbs to create thoughts or sentences that can be spoken out loud.  Sadly her classmates and some of her teachers are amazed at her intelligence.  Some students though continue to bully and plague her with their comments and general treatment.

Perseverance, patience and plain hard work give her a spot on the school's quiz team.  It is due to Melody that they are off to Washington, D.C. to participate in the nationals.  But is it fear, intolerance or just plain prejudice that steps in to change those plans?  To throw another stone on Melody's life path, just when she needs to give voice the most all her efforts fail her. 

Out of my mind is a poignant portrayal of a different view of normal as well as being a window through which all should look to better understand each of the individuals which collectively make us human.

Perhaps one of my student's actions speaks the loudest about this book:  One morning I came to work to find this volume on my desk with a note tucked inside--Dear Mrs. Culver...Please get more books by this author.  I couldn't have said it better myself.

No comments:

Post a Comment