Title: The Ballad of Melodie Rose
Author: Kate Gordon
Publisher: University of Queensland Press – UQP
Publication date: June 1, 2021
Themes: Friendship, belonging, courage, hope, speaking up for what you believe in
The Ballad of Melodie Rose is a touching tale that tugs at the heartstrings as it celebrates the beauty and power of friendship and sensitively explores belonging, memories, love and loss. Kate’s writing opens the reader’s heart to feel a gamut of emotions, from cheers to tears and everything in between. Tears often from the sheer beauty within these pages, the poetic language and gentle words of wisdom. This is a companion tale to The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn.
Like The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn, this tale is set at Direleafe Hall, a boarding school, where some things can simply not be logically explained, instead this school is place where magic happens and secrets live. Once grand, Direleafe Hall is no longer shiny and the years have taken their toll, however this does not matter to the handful of girls who reside there as this is their home, a place where they belong. This school is also home to Hollowbeak, a grouchy crow who can often be found in the twisted silver birch tree.
Melodie Rose arrived on the steps of Direleafe Hall alone and with a note her mother had pinned to her coat. The note made no sense to Melodie, not much did when she first arrived, including the fact that she believed she must be a ghost. That is the only plausible explanation as to why the three ghost girls at Direleafe Hall, Florence, Lucy and Nell could see Melodie.
Melodie Rose soon learns from the three ghost girls that ‘the Lady in White’ has been relentless in her pursuit of buying Direleafe Hall from Ms Gallows and has every intention of destroying the dilapidated school when it is hers. ‘The Lady In White’ is blind to the beauty and joy that exists in the school, all she sees is an old, broken and worthless place. Direleafe Hall contains the histories of the girls, it is their home and Melodie is passionate about saving it. It is just a matter of working out how to ensure ‘the Lady in White’ sees its worth. Together with the three other ghost girls and Hollowbeak the grouchy crow, Melodie devises a series of missions to save Direleafe Hall. These missions require ingenuity, resourcefulness, patience, courage and resilience, qualities that make Melodie stronger and enable her to be seen and respected by others.
The Ballad of Melodie Rose explores what it means to belong, to be loved and to be seen. It highlights the lessons and unexpected gifts that can arise from having courage, following your heart and working together for the common good. It sensitively shares gentle words of wisdom about the past affecting the present as well as pondering grief and loss. It shows that the past need not define you, one can start over with a clean slate and go forward content and fulfilled, open to possibility. This heart-swelling tale, sprinkled with magic and stardust, will find its way into the hearts of many young readers.