Melissa W. Odom's first published children's story, A Medal for Murphy, tells the story of an unwanted stray dog—unwanted, that is, until Murphy steals a sip of foamy root beer. The rumors start to fly and everybody wants him. A humorous tale, A Medal for Murphy shows how rumors begin and how they can rage out of control, creating fear and misunderstanding for everyone.
In addition to her writing for children, Odom has also worked as a columnist for the Jackson (Mississippi) Clarion-Ledger and for the Pearl Press in Pearl. She is active in her home church in Brandon, Mississippi, counseling prisoners at the Rankin County women's correctional facility and residents at area nursing homes.
Odom has travelled widely in Latin America. Born in the Panama Canal Zone, she came to the U.S. for the first time when she was sixteen years old with the Continental Singers. She completed her undergraduate education at Mississippi College in Clinton where she met and married her husband David, a Baptist minister. They served as missionaries in Guatemala before returning to the U.S. The Odoms are the parents of two children.
Before devoting herself full-time to writing, Melissa worked as an elementary school teacher. She speaks regularly to church groups in Mississippi and Louisiana.
A Medal for Murphy has been garnering high praise for its wholesome story and appealing illustrations. Publishers Weekly called it “a delightful story of a genuine hero who is catapulted from obscurity to stardom.” The Counselor Association newsletter called it “a must book for every pre-school library.”