No Ordinary Sound is the first book about Melody Ellison in the American Girl: Beforever series. Like all American Girl books, Melody’s story tells the history of America through the eyes of the children who lived during those times.
Melody is growing up in Detroit, Michigan. The year is 1963. Her oldest sister is off at college in Birmingham, Alabama, her brother has decided to pursue a singing career with Motown instead of going to college, and Melody and her sister, Lila, are in grade school.
Like her brother, Melody loves to sing. She has just been chosen to sing a solo for Youth Day at her church. She spends the whole summer preparing for her performance, but the rest of the world seems to be changing around her. She sees Martin Luther King, Jr. deliver the first version of his “I Have a Dream” speech at Cobo Arena and shortly afterwards, there is a bombing at a church in Birmingham–the city that her mother grew up in.
Melody, with the help of her family, learns to stand up to the discrimination that comes with the territory of being African American during the Civil Rights Movement. When she sees something happening that is wrong, she quickly speaks up for what is right. She also must learn to find her voice again and overcome the fear that keeps her from singing in the wake of tragedy.
No Ordinary Sound was an excellent read. It is a look at everyday life in a turbulent time period in America’s history. The book is part of the American “Girl” series, but I recommend it to any reader, as it is a great history lesson and a compelling story. I would recommend this for readers aged 8+.