Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

An American Girl Story: Melody 1963: Love Has to Win

An American Girl Story: Melody 1963: Love Has to Win

Spring 2017 Television
Ages: 6 - 12 yrs.
Producer: Amazon Studios
Rating: TV Y7

This gem of a drama should be required viewing in your family.

Set in Detroit during the turbulent times of the Civil Rights Movement, young Melody - played by Marsai Martin, the delightful Diane on ABC's "Black-ish" comedy - comes to realize that race troubles are erupting. And it's not just happening in the Deep South, but in her own home and school.

Melody is smart, creative, hopeful and filled with optimism. She sews costumes and plans to go to the moon. She speaks her mind and has faith in the world. But when she hears of the deadly bombing in an Alabama black church during Sunday school, Melody feels worried and threatened. And when white boys at her school rip up her drawings and her teacher sends her to the principal for questioning the words in the Pledge of Allegiance, Melody's cheerful demeanor is replaced by anxiety, fear and questioning.

Her grandfather (Melody's father died while serving in the Air Force) tells her not to expect much from the world, where inequality is the norm.

Her mom, however, is more upbeat. She decides to play a concert at their church to benefit the young victims of the bombing. Melody's afraid that their church could be next, and pleads with her mom not to perform. In the end, Melody faces her fears, remembering her late father's words: "Fear brings out the worst in us, but love brings out the best." It's a message for 1963 - and for now.

Ann Oldenburg   ©2017 Parents' Choice
Ann Oldenburg, assistant director of the journalism program at Georgetown University, began her career at The Washington Post and went on to spend more than two decades with USA Today, where she covered pop culture topics. She and her husband have three sons and live in McLean, Virginia.

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