Golden Kite Award Finalist
Washington State Book Award Winner
Junior Library Guild Gold Standard
Notable Social Studies Reading List
Melvin Robinson wants a strong, smooth, He-Man voice that lets him say what he wants, when he wants—especially to his crush Millie Takazawa, and Gary Ratliff, who constantly puts him down. But the thought of starting high school is only making his stutter worse.
And Melvin’s growing awareness that racism is everywhere—not just in the South where a boy his age has been brutally killed by two white men, but also in his own hometown of Spokane—is making him realize that he can’t mutely stand by.
His new friend Lenny, a fast-talking, sax-playing Jewish boy, who lives above the town’s infamous (and segregated) Harlem Club, encourages Melvin to take some risks—to invite Millie to Homecoming and even audition for a local TV variety show. When they play music together, Melvin almost feels like he’s talking, no words required. But there are times when one needs to speak up.
When his moment comes, can Melvin be as mighty on the outside as he actually is on the inside?
P R A I S E
★ “This powerful novel weaves strong characters into the tapestry of civil rights, treatment of people with disabilities, fallout fear from the war, and ever-changing cultural shifts that defined the 1950s.”
—School Library Journal (starred)
★ “A well-constructed and movingly told story of a thoughtful Black boy making his place in his family and in 1950s America.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred)
“A gentle historical novel about finding your voice.”
“Sundee Frazier once again flexes her masterful expertise in understanding the human heart, and the insurmountable will and capacity we have to press forward and persevere triumphantly.”
—Kirkus Prize-winner Derrick Barnes
“One of those rare books I found myself reading more slowly as I got to the final pages. I didn’t want it to end.”
—Newbery Award-winner Christopher Paul Curtis