Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Release party for Out of My Mind March 27, 2010

Hello all,

The book launch party was a delightful success. Let's see--where do I start?
The day dawned sunny and warm after weeks of rainy, dreary weather. Our color scheme was pale blue and orange, of course, and so loads of helium balloons decorated the outside of the building and along the halls of the school as well. We had it at Walnut Hills High School where I taught for 20 years, and LOTS of my former students came. One drove all the way from Chicago. I guess we had about 250 in attendance.

When people arrived, they were given name tags (because I can't remember anybody's name!) and they signed the guest book. Then they registered for door prizes.

The program began with a children's choir, carrying lighted candles, (battery) walking into the darkened auditorium. They sand "This Little Light of Mine." Then we had an invocation and I came out, dressed in a white suit--of course--with an orange scarf to keep with our color scheme. I gave a welcome and introduced the book, read a couple of selected passages, then I showed the first video, which focuses on words and the power of language. It's only 2 minutes long, so it is powerful and pointed.

Then I read some more, (the part about Ollie) and a couple of passages about the people who helped Melody, like Mrs. V and Mrs. Lovelace. That was followed by a group of disabled young people who do sign language to songs. The music was Josh Groban's "You Lift Me Up," and they were phenomenal. People wept.

I read then the passage about how Melody wished she could fly. A former student sang, in a deep contralto, "I Believe I can Fly." It was a wonderful solo. The next passage I read was how Melody dreams, and what she dreams of. That was followed by my daughter Crystal who did a beautifully moving dance to the song "I Dream in Color." She did half the dance in/ with a wheelchair, and half out of the chair in an expressive, powerful piece. She got a standing ovation.

After that, I read one more passage, about Melody's hopes for her life, then showed the last two-minute video, which is set to the music of Louis Armstrong's "What Wonderful World." We ended with a poem I wrote in which the whole audience stands and joins hands and celebrates life. It was just plain awesome. It went off without a hitch.

After that, everyone filed out to the atrium of the building, a new section that is glass-enclosed and really lovely, where we had the reception. We had a guy playing piano. We served blue punch, orange punch, a cake decorated with the cover of the book. Blue candy, orange candy, fresh fruit, and of course, goldfish crackers.

The door prizes? Live goldfish in bowls. I had 2 dozen of them. The children LOVED that.

I signed books for a couple of hours, greeted old friends and new, and left there exhausted. It is a glorious day.

Here are a few pix.

Sharon Draper


  1. Dear Ms. Draper,

    I just finished Out of My Mind and I want to tell you how amazing it was! My little 10 year old brother, Luke, who had special needs passed away not even two months ago and this book fits exactly how I feel about children with disabilities. I could understand all of the emotions in the book. It touched me very much! Thank you for writing this book!

    Olivia Vruwink

  2. I'm an 8th Grade English Teacher, who loves your books. The kids are so engaged when reading "Forged
    by Fire", its so quiet, its almost scary.

    Thank you from one Educator to another, you made my day today!

  3. I just heard about Out of My Mind this morning and I have to get it. Just reading about the book launch party for it made me teary! Sounds like a great start. :-)

  4. Good Afternoon Mrs.Draper I am a 10th grader at Newberry High School in South Carolina.I am a big fan of your books,you are an excellent author :)Wondering well just an idea ,would you be interested in speaking to a student body at my school next year for a Black History Program?!That's all for now,take care.