Logan Likes Mary Anne! (GN#8)

 Original Publication Date: 2019

Ghostwriter? No, the text copyright is for Ann M. Martin.

Illustrator: Gale Galligan


One major difference between this and the original version: Jessi joins the club here! There's also more diversity in the graphic novel, notably Logan (and Cam Geary) isn't white. It also stood out to me that Mary Anne's dad didn't specify she could only get a rescue cat (although she still does), and that Mary Anne used magnets to put up the picture of Cam Geary on her locker, rather than chewing gum...not sure why that scene was so etched in my memory.

Established or continued in this book:

The Girls (and Logan):

Claudia candy: She provides gummy worms, pretzels, and Goobers--hidden in a hollow book.
The Goobers were opened, hence Mallory's expression

Jessi's and Logan's first BSC meeting

Their Families:
My dad is also a lawyer. Replace the coat rack and plant
with more family pictures (we have a bigger family), the
baseball with a football, and shave the beard,
and this is him at his office.

Jessi and Mallory hanging out with Becca and Squirt

Tigger, shortly before Mary Anne adopts him

The Club (and clients): 

Myriah and Gabby Perkins

Jackie Rodowsky and his mom

SMS hallway

Celebrity sighting in the lunchroom?

It's official! Jessi is the new junior member,
and Logan is the new alternate member.

That's Mr. Redmont, who gave Kristy the essay on decorum
after she was a little too eager to leave class in Kristy's Great Idea.

With Mallory joining earlier in the graphic novels,
we need a quick explanation of her being at the
emergency club meeting during eighth grade lunch.

Mary Anne's shoe hitting the vice principal

PSA Time: Surprise parties aren't for everyone! Scale the size of the surprise to fit the person.
Too much for Mary Anne

There we go


Martin dedicates this book to "my old baby-sitters, Maura and Peggy."

Galligan dedicates it to "Patrick, and the full minute we spent laughing at the weird face Dipper made. And for you! I'm so glad we got to spend this time together."

The cities skirt!


Karen's Roller Skates (LSGN #2)

Publication date: 2020

Ghostwriter? No, the text copyright is for Ann M. Martin

Illustrators: Katy Farina, with color by Braden Lamb


Karen is roller skating and jumps over two coffee cans to impress Andrew, but falls after sticking the trick, breaking her wrist. She has to be in a cast for eight weeks! She's embarrassed that she just fell in a somewhat clumsy fashion, and soon starts spinning a tale about jumping over twenty cans while twirling and taking a dive to miss a caterpillar and her three babies and there being a police response and--


Andrew's finally had enough of her tall tales, and tells what really happened. And no one makes fun of Karen for "just" falling. She is still concerned that classmate Ricky, who broke his ankle the day before she broke her wrist, will upstage Karen at school, so she's been collecting signatures--Ricky's going to have his cast signed by a famous baseball player. Karen works up the nerve to get Mrs. Porter's autograph, but she's not sure a witch is as good as a celebrity. She's relieved when her mom reveals she knows a movie star who's in town, so Karen can get her autograph. And when she and Ricky get to school, they're able to share the spotlight just fine.

Karen's class

Continuity related to the BSC books:

Shannon Kilbourne makes an appearance.
Associate sitters represent!


Ann M. Martin dedicates in memory of her grandmother Adele Read Martin (August 2, 1894-April 18-1988); Katy Farina to "my parents, who were always there to make scrapes, sickness, and broken bones feel better." 

I assume Dawn Read Schafter's middle name is an homage to Martin's grandmother.

I asked my youngest, who's Andrew's age, if caterpillars have babies. She said no, they are babies. This was one of the few I read as a kid, I remember this bugging (pun intended) me when I read this as a kid--Karen is supposed to be smart enough to skip a grade, but she doesn't realize that butterfly babies are caterpillars. 

Watson plays with his smart phone while waiting for Karen's check up with the doctor.
Baby-sitters Little Sister in the 21st century


Karen's Witch (LSGN #1)

Publication date: 2020

Ghostwriter? No, the text copyright is for Ann M. Martin

Illustrators: Katy Farina, with color by Braden Lamb


Kristy's younger sister, Karen Brewer, is getting ready for a weekend at her father's house with her younger brother, Andrew. They usually live with their mother and step-father, but every other weekend they live with their dad, step-mother, three step-brothers, and step-sister. And when she's at her dad's, her next-door neighbor is a witch.

Karen and Andrew getting ready to go to their dad's

The titular "witch"

No one believes this but Karen, her (dad's house) best friend Hannie, Andrew, and her step-brother David Michael, but Karen is sure of it. So sure that when she and Hannie are spying (against the rules at her dad's house) on the neighbor (Mrs. Porter, supposedly AKA Morbidda Destiny) and hear her talking to her cat about some upcoming plans, Karen just knows there's a witch meeting in the near future. When Karen sees several people coming to the neighbor's house, she runs to get Hannie: they have to stop the witch meeting! The two six-year-olds knock on the door, ask to come in, and proceed to berate the group of mostly older adults about whatever witch plans they have for the neighborhood--until Karen's grandmother interrupts to ask what they think they're doing interrupting a meeting of the Stoneybrook Garden Club. 

She makes Karen and Hannie apologize, and sends Hannie home. She takes Karen back, and tells her dad and step-mom what happened. Watson and Elizabeth are, of course, appalled. They concede that Karen thought she was protecting the neighborhood, and punish her only for spying. Even in the midst of that, Karen lies when she promises to not spy again--she'll still spy if she feels she really needs to.

Continuity related to the BSC books:

Elizabeth and Karen seem to have a really good relationship, with Elizabeth giving Karen a good morning kiss. The rest of the Brewers also treat Karen and Andrew like one of their own.

Karen's families

Kristy is shown to enjoy baby-sitting, and Mary Anne makes a brief appearance when she and her dad pick Kristy up.
Oh right, the BSC exists

In the graphic novel version of Kristy's Big Day, Watson's parents are said to be very religious, as part of the reasoning why Watson and Elizabeth want to marry before living in the same house. The grandmother at the garden club is Karen's maternal grandmother, which is too bad because it would have be hilarious to see the reaction if she were the ultra-religious (and presumably anti-witchcraft) grandmother.


Ann M. Martin dedicates this to Laura Elizabeth, the newest Perkins; Katy Farina to Maddie, her little sister.

So, yes: I'm reviewing the Baby-sitters Little Sister graphic novels (Karen's Roller Skates will be up next month). However, I'm not committing to reviewing the entire chapter book series. There are 128 books, and I have all but... 128 of them. I read a few as a kid and never really liked them as much, so there's no nostalgia for me. 

Like the other graphic novels, there are some changes and updates. The most obvious is that Hannie Papadakis and her family are mixed-race: Hannie's dad is Greek and her mom is black.

My middle kid read this too (she's read all the graphic novels and is working her way through the BSC chapter books; my oldest is reading the American Girl novels). She's a few months older than Karen is depicted in the book, and reassured me that she'll never go to our next-door neighbor's house (also an older widow) to accuse her of witchcraft.

This illustration of a waxing crescent moon indicates it's setting just before dawn. A waxing crescent sets before midnight--a full moon would set before dawn.
At least there are no stars in the part of the moon that's in shadow.

I've never dealt with divorce first-hand, though my mom and some cousins and friends have. One thing I wonder about: with shared custody, do kids ever really feel like their "at home"? I really hope that more kids feel like Karen ("I have two homes!") than not. It must be hard going back and forth, but it would also be hard to not see one of your parents. If any of you have experience with divorce, I hope it ends/ended up overall a good one.

So... Karen. I don't like "Karen" as an insult, just as I don't like any name as an insult, or purposely mispronouncing names as insults. People can't help what they're named, and their names don't have a real impact on their personalities. I also think weaponizing names is a lazy way to insult people. That said, it's still kinda funny that of all the names that could be stereotyped as someone who butts in and causes problems by overreacting, it just had to be Karen. (But the three Karens I know in real life are exceptionally nice people, and would never do anything like that.)
How Karen thinks unveiling the witch meeting will go

What actually happens
The problem with Karen, in a nutshell


Girl of the Year 2020: Joss: Touch the Sky

Published: 2020. Author: Erin Falligant. Illustrator: Maike Plenske.


Joss and her friends Brooklyn and Sofia are preparing for the school talent show. Joss's brothers both made it to the Wall of Fame during their tenure at the elementary school, and this is her last chance to join them. She's got to come up with a great act!

And also learn to be a flyer on her cheer team after another girl sprains her ankle. Joss is excited for the opportunity, but also nervous. The big competition is less than a month away.

Time is growing short all around. Soon, it's only five days to the talent show. Sofia's painted a skateboard ramp with waves to resemble an ocean, and Joss and Brooklyn are going to pretend to surf while they skateboard--with Murph the bulldog! Frustratingly, Murph is less than cooperative. And word's gotten out about her, so Joss is feeling extra pressure for her dog to wow everyone, now that the school is anticipating it. While Joss is able to finally be successful doing an elevator as a flyer, she can't seem to talk Murph into performing. It takes a team effort from her, Brooklyn, Sofia, and a bag of dog treats to even make slight progress. Joss hopes it will be enough.

The day of the talent show, things start out okay. Bribed by the promise of treats, Murphy skates up and down the ramp after Sofia graces the stage. But before Joss can take a turn, the crowd noise spooks Murph, and the dog bolts. Joss runs after Murphy and catches her, but knowing her hopes of living up to her brothers' legacy are dashed, she can't bear to return to the talent show and face the jeers of the audience. But to her utter shock, Joss and her friends win the talent show...as a comedy act. Joss is conflicted; she worked so hard practicing and never got to show off her moves, she's still embarrassed by how Murphy ran off...but she won...but not the way she wanted to. She doesn't really feel like she's earned the prize.

After a spat with Brooklyn (who thinks it was all funny, not embarrassing) maybe a day surfing with Sophia will clear Joss's head. But no--she tries to surf a wave that's too big for her skill level, and gets knocked underwater long enough to scare her. She ends up not badly injured, but embarrassed and shaken again. When the next cheer practice rolls around, Joss is determined to put it all behind her and focus on doing things well. But she just can't do it; she's letting her team down. Joss's confidence is gone.

On the way home from practice, a lightning storm pops up. Liam calls Joss's mom with the news that the storm scared Murph, who's run away. The family starts searching in the driving rain. It's Joss who finds her, cowering under a boat rack. While Joss waits for her family to meet up there, she pours her heart out to her dog. She feels like no one even wants her on the team anymore, and that she can't trust them or herself.

And that's just it. She doesn't trust herself. Joss has heart-to-hearts with Sofia and Brooklyn. She also talks to Reina, who convinces the cheer coach to let the team have a sleepover before the big competition. All the girls bond as they talk about their worries and play games. They come together as a team, better than they have before.

When the big day arrives, the team is confident enough to do the trickier stunt they'd hoped to do. They pull it off, but their rival comes out next with a tougher routine. Then halfway through, their music cuts out. Joss, now understanding that her talent show win feels tainted and unfair because she wasn't able to do her best, starts clapping a beat. Soon, the whole audience joins, keeping the rival team on track. When the results are in, Joss's team comes in second and the rival team is first. But Joss feels on top of the world. Her team didn't win due to a technical problem with the music, and they worked together and competed better than they had before. That's something to be proud of.


Dedicated to "my cheer team, Elizabeth, Jennifer, Darcie, and Katie, with gratitude." Special thanks is also given to the various experts who gave advice for accuracy: Crystal de Silva, winner of several shortboard titles including the 2009 and 2013 World Deaf Championships; Dr. Sharon Pajka, English professor at Gallaudet University; Julie Peterson and Sara Jo Moen, owners of Fury Athletics in Madison, WI, and coaches of award-winning competitive cheer teams; Jennifer Richardson, AuD, educational audiologist and founder of Hearing Milestones; and Bianca Valenti, professional big wave surfer and co-founder of the Committee for Equity in Women's Surfing.

Joss describes Liam as her oldest brother rather than older, meaning she should have at least three brothers. But she only has one other brother, Dylan--so Liam is her older brother.

Joss's cheer coach has a special microphone that connects directly to Joss's hearing aid, and also uses hand signals. It's unclear whether they're cheer-specific, ASL, or a mix of both. For example, at one point the coach counts out "Five, six, seven, eight" and the narration says she holds up her fingers. That could mean she's signing the numbers, holding up the same number of fingers as the number she's saying, or that she's uses some sort team signal.

I wonder why Joss's mom finger-spelled hawk, rather than signing it. Maybe for emphasis? To be sure it wasn't misunderstood as the sign for eagle?


Girl of the Year 2020: Joss

Published: 2020. Author: Erin Falligant. Illustrator: Maike Plenske.


Jocelyn "Joss" Elizabeth Kendrick is an active fourth grader, zooming from skate boarding to surfing, never letting the fact that she's hard-of-hearing get in the way. After all, as the saying goes, Deaf people can do anything hearing people can--except hear. Joss was born deaf in her left ear and with partial hearing in her right, amplified by a hearing aid. Hasn't stopped her in the least, though; Joss has been surfing at Huntington Beach since she was six, with her two older brothers, impulsive Dylan (now 14) and aspiring pro-surfer Liam (18).

When Joss's best friend Sofia shows her an advertisement for a surfing video competition featuring Joss's surfing hero, Tina Heart, the two "Surf Sisters" start planning their entry right away. They need to showcase what they love about their favorite surf spot, with an eye on conservationism. Maybe Joss can learn do to a frontside air for the video--Tina Heart first did it when she was ten, so why shouldn't Joss be able to? Liam thinks she just might be able to learn it in time! But Sofia's phone's camera isn't up to the task of filming from a distance. Joss needs to ask Dylan...who will definitely want something in return. Joss happens upon just the bribe: she'll try out for the cheerleading team captained by Dylan's best friend's older sister Reina (Joss thinks of cheer as fine for some people but not her thing--she's a "real athlete") if Dylan films her and Sofia's video. He agrees.

Even though she doesn't plan to stick with the team in the off chance she makes it through tryouts, Joss is nervous. The gym where tryouts are held is an acoustic nightmare for someone who's hard-of-hearing, and the cheerleaders are practicing stunts that Joss has no idea how to do. Reina helps Joss find the coach so Joss can give her a special microphone that connects directly to Joss's hearing aid. being able to hear Coach Kara and recognizing a friendly girl from school, Brooklyn, helps Joss relax a little. She ends up on the spot when the other girls (no boys are trying out or on the team) get curious about the microphone, hearing aid, Joss's hearing loss, and how to communicate with her. Joss has fielded questions like this her whole life, so while she might not love answering them, she knows how to. One girl, Mila, seems annoyed by Joss being there, especially when Joss says she's just there to get a favor from Dylan. Even with the microphone, it's hard for Joss to follow the instructions and the beat of the music--between that and Mila's attitude, Joss definitely doesn't want to stay in cheer if she makes the team. She's a surfer, not a cheerleader.

But after a couple days of tryouts, she does make the team. And she feels stronger and more flexible--she almost lands a frontside air! Cheer is making her stronger, and between Brooklyn's friendliness and Mila's snobbishness, Joss wants to do better in it. That means three days a week away from making the video, which is due soon. Sofia is frustrated about that. Joss talks with her, setting firm guidelines and a schedule for filming the video. Sofia figures that Joss can quit cheer once the video's done (and Dylan can no longer hold it over her head), but Joss isn't so sure. Even after briefly losing her hearing aid during a practice, she wants to improve. She's made a commitment, and she wants to see it through.

But cheer is taking up more of Joss's time. It comes to the point that one Saturday when Dylan's filming Joss trying to land a frontside air, Joss doesn't pay attention and accidentally steals a wave Dylan's best friend Nico is on, crashing into him and cutting his ankle. Dylan is furious with Joss and refuses to film the video. Sofia is mad too, accusing Joss of prioritizing her one trick over Sofia's contribution (the video idea was to have Sofia make art pieces with shells and other items from the beach, then Joss to demonstrate what the art represents through surfing).

It takes a heart-to-heart with Liam to help Joss sort things out. He remind Joss that he's undeniably a surfer--but he plays volleyball, too. People can be multi-faceted. Joss can be a surfer girl, a cheerleader, and a good friend and sister. Joss and Sofia patch things up, and then agree to be a team with Dylan and Nico. Together, the four have filmed enough artwork and surf tricks to make a really good video. One more thing would make it perfect: a frontside air. Joss tries once more before they run out of time before the video deadline...and doesn't do it. She does end up combining surf tricks with cheer tricks into a pretty nice move, though, which the new team of four add to finish the video.

International Surfing Day arrives, when Tina Heart will announce the video winners. The day starts with a beach cleanup, then some surfing--Joss lands a frontside air! And then finale: Joss, Sofia, Dylan, and Nico win! Tina Heart signs their surfboards, they each win a new one, she asks Sofia if she can use some of her art to promote her environmental message, and she asks Joss to teach her the surf/cheer trick that was featured in the video. Joss is part surfer, part skateboarder, part cheerleader, part friend, part sister, part daughter--and 100% Joss.


Dedicated to "my mother, who taught me to be true to myself--one hundred percent." The author also thanks Crystal da Silva, who holds shortboard titles in Pro-Am and World Deaf championships; Dr. Sharon Pajka, English professor at Gallaudet University (which primarily serves Deaf students); Julie Peterson and Sara jo Moen, owners of Fury Athletics and coaches of highly successful competitive cheer teams; Jennifer Richardson, AuD, an educational audiologist who founded Hearing Milestones; and Bianca Valenti, profession surfer and cofounder of the Committee for Equity in Women's Surfing.

I was second in line on the hold list at the library to get this book. I wasn't able to until now because the libraries all closed for three months due to COVID19. All of Joss's competitions and activities would have been cancelled for the same reason, and communication would have been significantly harder for her: masks get in the way of lip-reading.

There are illustrations throughout the book! According to Neth at American Girl Outsider, there was a lot of disappointment about the historical character books losing their illustrations during the BeForever line, so the books have been re-issued with illustrations...but also abridged versions of the text. I guess the Powers That Be decided Girl of the Year book should have pictures, too.

International Surfing Day is indeed June 20.

Sofia is very artistic. Her surfing tends to be more graceful than aggressive, and she's forever looking for shells and rocks on the beach to make art.

Murph, the Kendrick's bulldog, is "goofy-footed, like [Joss], which means [they] push with their left feet." I know next-to-nothing about skate-boarding, but I know soccer, high jump, long jump, triple jump, hurdles, and pole vault. I'm "goofy-footed" in those, in that I use the opposite feet for kicking or jumping from most people. But I jump off my right foot...would I skate-board by pushing with my left? I can't figure out which would feel more natural.

Joss's mom grew up surfing, but her dad has never gotten the hang of it. He likes to do wood-working in his spare time.

Joss will sometimes take out her hearing aid and tune out the remaining muffled sounds for "QT" (quiet time). She finds she can focus better on visualizations and planning that way; it's a nice break.

Joss has various adaptions for her hearing loss that Deaf people I've known in real life use, too; like vibrating alarms clocks. Joss uses her cell phone, but there are alarm clocks with attachments that light up or vibrate--one of my ASL teachers had one.

There's a cool idiom sign for "wow." Hold one hand on either side of your head in the W shape (how most people indicate 3, which is actually 6 in ASL) and open your mouth in an O shape like you're amazed. Together, your hands and mouth spell W-O-W.

Here in Washington, high school cheerleading is classified as an "activity" rather than a "sport." It's certainly more athletic than golf, which is under the sport heading. I considered trying out for it in high school to gain upper body strength for pole vault, but ended up doing gymnastics instead--I got along better with the gymnastics team than the cheer team. Would I want my kids to do cheer? I would be actually be pretty reticent. Because it's an "activity" there are fewer safety regulations. If that were fixed, then I wouldn't have a problem with it.

Joss's revelation about which foot she should lead with for cheer tricks is similar to when I started high jump. I was just awful the first day of it, until my coach noticed I was jumping from my right foot instead of my left. He had me approach the bar from the opposite side, and suddenly it was much easier. When I was older and coaching jumps myself, the first thing I did with new jumpers was figure out which foot they naturally jumped from.


Ivy and Julie 1976: A Happy Balance

Released on Amazon Prime in March 2017 


Ivy's family is hosting the extended family for Chinese New Year. Julie, her mom, and sister will be coming too, and Julie volunteers to help clean the Ling home. Ivy's frustrated with trying to balance her Chinese heritage with her American life, and worries about sticking out among her peers, none of whom have her background. While she's busy preparing for the New Year celebrations, she's also getting ready for a big gymnastics meet...and then Julie points out that the meet is the same day as Chinese New Year. 

Ivy feels like she can't vent to Julie, because Julie is dealing with the tensions that come after divorce. Her sister and her dad aren't on speaking terms, and her sister is upset with Julie for going to their father's for visitation. Ivy's parents invited both Julie's mom and dad to the Chinese New Year dinner, and Julie's worried about them fighting (her family ends up being civil).

Ivy's frustrations come to a head when her parents realize the conflict of the dates. They leave it up to Ivy to decide, which is a HUGE decision for her to make on her own. Ivy's mom is worried that gymnastics will take up so much of Ivy's time that Ivy won't have anything left for her Chinese heritage, especially after Ivy skips Chinese school to go to an extra gymnastics practice. Ivy is conflicted too. A heart-to-heart with her grandparents gives her a lot to think about: feeling like an outsider, the importance of family, being proud of who she is, courage.

Back at home, Ivy decorates the home for Chinese New Year, and makes her mother's favorite Chinese dish with her grandparents' help. She decides to go to the dinner instead of the meet (they're not only the same day, but the same time), but she's still torn up about it. Her mom overhears Ivy talking to Julie about her anguish, and tells Ivy that the decision she makes has to be right for Ivy.

The next day sees Ivy at the meet...and her whole family there to watch. Ivy performs well enough to get a medal (probably qualifying for the regional meet). At a later dinner, Ivy gets compliments on her athleticism as well as her grasp of the Chinese language and how well she made some food.


I can't figure out where this was filmed.

The movie takes place in during the Chinese New Year celebration in 1976, which was Saturday, January 31 as the movie depicts. It started the year of the dragon. (As I'm writing this in 2020, we're in the year of the rat.) However, her dad says the meet and dinner are on January 30.

Ivy shares a room with her younger sister. The room is covered with pictures of gymnasts and pandas.

Julie listens to "Saturday Night" by the Bay City Rollers, which was released in 1974.

I'm surprised that Ivy's family didn't know what day the big meet was until less than two weeks before it happens. Her mom is on a first-name basis with the coach.

The way the Ivy's balance beam performance for the big meet is cut, it looks like there's a stand-in for Ivy's actress. 


Ivy Ling - Nina Lu
Julie Albright - Hannah Nordberg
Marilyn Ling - Gwedoline Yeo
Sam Ling - Rob Yang
Andrew Ling - Lance Lim
Po-Po - Elizabeth Sung
Gung-Gung - Tzi Ma
Coach Gloria - Caitlin McGee
Auntie Yin Wa - Karen Huie
Missy Ling - Kyra Lyn
Cathy - Zane Smith


And the Tiara Goes to...

Released on Amazon Prime in November 2015 (now on YouTube)


When Julie's sister shows her a news article about the latest Miss America going to law school, Julie decides that she can try doing something outside the sporty persona she's been focusing on by entering a middle school beauty contest. After hearing some more girly girls gossip about her in the bathroom, Julie wonders if her plan to showcase basketball as her talent is appropriate. Her mom and Tracy encourage her to be herself, and give her a gold locket.

The day of the show, Julie stills feels a little out of place and nervous. But her mom, dad, and sister are in attendance to support her, as well as Ivy. Julie wears a sequined basketball outfit and showcases her ball-handling skills, including that spinning-on-the-fingers trick I can't do. The other girls backstage seem like they're going to mock her, but they're impressed. When asked what she wants to do when she grows up, Julie says she wants to be President of the United States--after college and getting started in local politics.

Julie ends up in second place, and the only girl shown not gossiping about Julie before the show wins. Ivy asks to run with Julie, to be vice president: the first female and first Chinese vice president!


Filmed in Los Angeles, CA and Ontario, Canada

This is short, about 14 minutes long. It doesn't waste time on exposition, so it's best to have read at least a few of the Julie books before watching it.

Julie doesn't hang up the phone after talking to Ivy. She just drops it by the side of her bed.

Among the other talents are baton twirling, gymnastics, piano playing and singing ("Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star"), ballet, and tap dancing.

The other girls' ambitions: to own a clothing store, be a veterinarian, be a mother, be an accountant, run a ballet studio, be a flight attendant, and be a movie star.

After the contest, Julie's parents and sister and Ivy have dinner at Julie's mom's house, with cake for dessert. They have a giant sheet cake for the five people. I hope Ivy took some home with her!

Oh...this was released a year before the 2016 US presidential election...when Hilary Clinton was the presumptive Democratic nominee...Julie wants to be the first woman president...


Julie Albright - Jolie Ledford
Tracy Albright - Keely Aloña
Joyce Albright - Karen Ide
Daniel Albright - Jim Jepson
Coach Manley - Matt DeNoto
Ivy - Grace Liu
Alison - Mia Moore
Amanda - Caydence Joy
Angie - Marsha Malinina
Jenny - Jordan Butler
LeeRan - Raleigh Gremillion
Krista - Natalie Bright
Twin - Noelle Hardy
Twin - Grace Hardy
TJ - Mason Hafer
Basketball boy - Lev Cameron
Basketball boy - Anthony Edwards, Jr
Basketball boy - Blake Hendricks
Basketball boy - Michael Hill
Basketball boy - Kai Johnson
Basketball boy - Eric Laguna
Basketball boy - Sean Laguna
Basketball boy - Perry Chen Norman
Basketball boy - Ife Orekoya
Primping Girl - Ashley Chen
Primping Girl - Michaela Crayton
Primping Girl - Rimea Kasprzak
Primping Girl - Savannah Liles
Basketball Boy after School - Dylan Brabant
Basketball Boy after School - Taeho K
Basketball Boy after School - Gene Minero
Teacher Backstage - Claudia Zie
Student - Calista Best
Father of Student - Patrick Breen
Student - Leilani Brosnan
Mother of Student - Sandra Brosnan
LeeRan's Sister - Berlin Gremillion
LeeRan's Mother - Shelly Gremillion
Jenny's Sister - Cherish Kim
Jenny's Brother - Courage Kim
Jenny's Sister - Destinie Kim
Jenny's Sister - Faith Kim
Jenny's Mother - Kate Kim
Father of Student - Marvin Craig
Amanda's Sister - Kate Tomlinson
Amanda's Mother - Ruth Anne Tomlinson
Alison's Sister - Janelle Wolfe
Alison's Brother - Samuel Wolfe
Alison's Mother - Maxine Wolfe


Melody 1963: Love Has to Win

Released on Amazon Prime in October 2016


Melody is caught up in the Space Race, but her grandfather's concerned with things on Earth. Protesters marching for civil rights are being unjustly arrested and even attacked. Melody struggles to understand why police, who are supposed to protect everyone, are hurting peaceful protesters. Melody wonders about the Pledge of Allegiance her class recites--"with liberty and justice for all"--but is told to not "disturb the peace" and that "good things come to those who wait." Some white boys bully her at recess. Another black student says the bullying is too much and she wants to go to her neighborhood school (presumably she's bused to this one for diversity) where she won't be a pariah.

When visiting her mother at work (she sews dresses for a clothing store), Melody is accused of trying to steal a dress, while a white girl browsing just like Melody is left alone. Her mother nearly loses her job over it. Melody's mother and grandfather voice their anger in different ways: Melody's mother mourns privately because she wants Melody to not have to grow out of her childhood innocence yet and focus on how things can get better, while her grandfather says that's what people have been saying for generations.

Melody is discouraged by the discrimination. She has a bit of hope at school when a white girl, Trish, comes over to talk to her about Melody's drawings, and invites her over to play, even after two other white girls try to talk Trish out of it.

But two days later, the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama is bombed. Yes, that bombing. Four young black girls are killed. At school the next day, Melody can't keep quiet. She can't say the Pledge while the country is divided. Her teacher sends her to the principal's office, and she's suspended for a week. Her grandfather is proud of Melody for standing up for civil rights.

Melody's mother is asked by their church to play piano in a concert honoring the girls killed in Alabama. Melody is terrified that someone will bomb their church too, and doesn't want her to perform. But she overcomes fear and agrees to help, even sewing an outfit for her mother to wear while she plays. When the day of the concert arrives, Melody is stunned to see that her class has come to see the concert as a field trip (this is during Melody's suspension). It seems her outburst got to her teacher, who organized the field trip. One of the boys who bullied Melody refuses to come, but Trish takes Melody's hand and leads the rest of the class into the church, where Melody's mother plays to an integrated crowd. Melody leads the mourners in song.


Filmed in Los Angeles, CA.

Melody wants to be an astronaut now, rather than her book focus on being a singer. My parents were born about the same time as Melody, and it's understandable the Space Race would be interesting to a child in the 1960s, but why change such a big part of Melody's personality? 

Melody's father is dead here, unlike the books. Her siblings don't feature in the movie, either. Her family is also lower class, rather than middle class like the books.

Melody is left-handed in the movie.

Melody's grandfather says Melody's dad enlisted in a desegregated military. The books have him as a Tuskegee airman in World War II, and Executive Order 9981 was signed in 1948. I guess he was in the Korean War in this version instead. The picture Melody has of him shows him as a pilot. With Melody now being an only child rather than having older siblings, Korea makes more sense than World War II, age-wise. My dad is slightly older than Melody and his dad was in World War II, while my mom is slightly younger than Melody and her dad was in Korea (both my parents have older and younger siblings).

The church bombing places this movie in September of 1963.

Huh, Melody looks at a display of dolls, which are all white, seeing none like her. Something, something, American Girl dolls and diversity...

Ouch, watching this movie about civil unrest and police violence in 2020...


Melody Ellison - Marsai Martin
Frances Ellison - Idara Victor
Frank Ellison - Frankie Faison
Miss Abbot - Frances Fisher
Donald - Garret McQuaid
Lorraine - Dara Iruka
Trish - Lola Wayne Villa
Principal Davis - Matthew Foster
Sales Clerk - Briana Lane
Store Manager - Chuck McCollum
Mr. Schuler - Rocky McMurray
Neighborhood Girl - Daija Bickham
Neighborhood Girl - Skyelar Wesley
Mother in Store - Libby Ewing
Daughter in Store - Joelle Better
Mary Beth - Isabel Myers
Male Bystander - Joshua Wilkinson
Church Choir members - Errol Gillett, Caitlyn Lemle, Charles Elvin Lemle, Darene Annette McDuffey, Asani Myers, Marsha Joi Myers, Edward W. Robbins, and Rosa Ophelia Williams