Monday, November 15, 2021

MMGM- Out of My Heart

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
and #IMWAYR day 

Draper, Sharon. Out of My Heart
November 9th 2021 by Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
E ARC Provided by Edelweiss Plus

Melody (from Out of My Mind) is enjoying the summer away from school, hanging out with her young sister Penny with the neighbor Miss V., but when she finds out about a summer camp for children with physical challenges two hours from her home, she begs to go. Even though it's a last minute application and she is on the wait list, she gets accepted. Once in, she has to deal with her mother obsessively packing and writing notes, and is a bit apprehensive herself about being away from home. Once she gets to the camp, she finds out that she will have a conselour, Trinity, who helps her with all of her personal care needs, which are extensive because of her very involved cerebral palsey. There are lots of camp activities like going on a pontoon boat, swimming, zip lining, and horse riding, new friends with whom to bond, and even a few adventures. Even though there are a lot of new experiences, Melody enjoys her chance to be at camp, and wants to go back the next year. 
Strengths: The many readers who followed Melody's story with interest will be glad to see her back and experiencing the same joys and fears of summer camp that they might. Even though the activities are the same, there is careful attention paid to how these have to be modified, and this will hopefully give young readers some empathy and reinforce the fact that people with challenges are first and foremost people. Melody even has a very slight, nascent romance, and makes lots of new friends.  I am glad that the same cover style was preserved, since remains clean, attractive, and modern looking.
Anyone else super confused by the Italian (?) cover below?

: Eleven years ago, no one blinked at having a character with CP written by a writer who did not live with that condition. Now, it does give me a little pause, but this book was clearly well researched and I'm sure Draper had sensitivity readers. She also spent a lot of time working with people with this and other conditions. 
What I really think: Out of My Mind is a perennial favorite, mainly because so many elementary teachers use it as a read aloud, and it's been on the Battle of the Books several times, so even though it is over ten years old, it circulates frequently. I imagine that many readers do want to know what happened to Melody and will be glad to read about her week at summer camp. There is always a danger in waiting too long for a sequel, though. (Think So Be It and Soof, Zachary Beaver Came to Town and The Ambassador of Nowhere, Texas, and The Two Princesses of Bamarre and The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre.)

Hulick, Kathryn and Wolski, Marcin (illus.) Welcome to the Future: Robot Friends, Fusion Energy, Pet Dinosaurs, and More! 
October 26th 2020 by Frances Lincoln Children's Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

This well researched vision of what could happen in the future covers topics from robots to living on other planets to dinosaurs as pets. Clean energy, teleportation, food, and living forever are also discussed. I liked the way that past visions of the future are explored, current realities are explained, and realistic progress is detailed. This makes it VERY different from the books about the future that I read in the 1970s (that were mainly from the 1960s and 1950s). Gone is the brilliant, innovative future that will just certainly HAPPEN, replaced by a well reasoned treatise on why we are never, ever going to teleport. 

The layout of this was fun, with a 1980s computer font for subject headings, and fun futuristic drawings. This is definitely one to purchase and keep forever, so that students in 2070 can dust it off and laugh and laugh. 

But it depressed me a bit. I liked the idea of a Jetsons' style future, even if no one really though it would come to pass. I don't want to know that robot hands don't work that well, and I already know that living on other planets is something that I never want to do. But can't I keep dreaming that one day I will have a jet pack, and it won't caues third degree burns on my legs?

We are able to send pictures to people living hours away on our phone, and even have video calls, so the future is now. I just wish, for younger people's sake, that the rest of the future weren't so bleak. 


  1. I'm embarrassed that I never read Out of My Mind, so I really need to start there. Thankfully we do have local copies! We are in the midst of such changes when it comes to writing about experiences with which we do not have intimate personal knowledge. It's a tremendous responsibility and I'm proud to see authors who take the time to fully investigate and hire sensitivity readers.

  2. I am intrigued by that Italian cover! I may never un-see it now!!

  3. I want to read Draper's new book. Just got a copy! So I enjoyed reading your thoughts! Sharon lives about 45 minutes from me in Cincinnati and I've gone to some of her book launch events. She has so much energy and very entertaining. Her students show up to many of them and they talk about the t-shirts that they survived the Dreaded Draper Paper. They were the ones who challenged her to start writing!

  4. I am looking forward to reading Out of My Heart—if I only get a chance to! But Out of My Mind was an excellent read. Also, I definitely know what you mean about the #ownvoices/not-#ownvoices aspect—I believe Draper's own daughter has a disability like Melody's, so she definitely has some experience to write from. But as I've learned after reading some criticism of Rules by Cynthia Lord, parent's perspectives do NOT automatically equal sensitive perspectives (although I think Draper definitely did a better job in Out of My Mind than Lord does in Rules). So it's definitely worth considering! Also, the Italian cover is seriously a little strange! But I am glad they resisted the urge to "modernize" the American cover with the sequel. Welcome to the Future sounds like a fascinating read as well! Thanks so much for the great picks, Karen!

  5. I am one of the very few people I know who had trouble with Out of My Mind. As much as I liked it, I thought that she portrayed many of the characters too one-dimensional. Having grown up with a father who used a wheelchair, I saw that people can be fearful, stupid and curious about individuals with special needs. I don’t think they are as ignorant or as deliberately malicious as Draper represents Melody’s peers and teachers in the book.
    I would purchase Welcome to the Future in a heartbeat if I was still in the library. I also wish "for younger people's sake, that the rest of the future weren't so bleak." It actually terrifies me.

  6. Out of My Mind was such an incredible book. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of Out of My Heart. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about it. Welcome to the Future sounds like a book a lot of kids will like. Thanks for telling me about it.