Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Wishing Pearl by Nicole O'Dell-- free from Kindle

The Wishing Pearl (Diamond Estates #1) by Nicole O'Dell
Published October 1st 2011 by Barbour Books

Current Publisher: Choose NOW Publishing; 2 edition (March 1, 2015)-- I just purchased the e-Reader version for today's

Kindle Price: $0.00

A character named Tammy is deaf. The story includes multiple characters using “sign language.”

Book Description:
Join conflicted sixteen-year-old Olivia Mansfield on her journey to hope and healing as she leaves her messed-up life behind and moves into Diamond Estates, a home for troubled teens. This brand-new novel for teen girls will not only entertain, but also promises to capture your heart and challenge your faith.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Author Cecily Paterson's 3rd book will include multiple deaf characters & she needs YOUR help!!!

Last November, I reviewed and challenged author Cecily Anne Paterson to not only write a third  book in her series but to include at least one other deaf character.  Tonight, I’m a bit giddy because Ms. Paterson and I have been discussing this and she’s ready for some input on her third novel! Read that as her Deaf Character Jazmine is ready to meet some other deaf characters!!! (Okay, my excessive use of exclamation points might be annoying but I'm super excited about this.)

If you haven’t read Invisible or Invincible, you’re going to want to do so quickly especially if you’re interested in helping out with this project! Of course, reading her books isn’t required but I certainly encourage it!

How many chances do you have to help an author do research for an upcoming book and how many chances do you get to have a say in the journey of a fictional character such as the Jazmine, a teenage girl who is deaf and fluent in Auslan?! 

Well, here’s your chance! Click on the picture below, or follow the link here to answer a brief survey. She's even offering to acknowledge your help in her forthcoming novel.

Please feel free to share this with anyone who is deaf or hard of hearing who might be interested in participating in this important research.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Interview with Deborah Lytton, author of Silence (2015)

Silence by Deborah Lytton
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Shadow Mountain (March 3, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1609079450
ISBN-13: 978-1609079451

I’m going to start this a bit unconventionally because I’ve been in that kind of place this week. It all began when a new member of the book club that I’m in made the statement, “it must be horrifying to not be able to hear.” This was completely off topic and not at all related to deaf characters. In fact, this was part of a discussion about horror fiction.  I’m afraid that my reading falls into the categories of Deaf characters and dead characters a bit too often. Don’t think I didn’t roll my eyes at her remark. I pressed her a bit because I just couldn’t let it go. Her response included words mostly associated with loss. That’s just not where my mind goes when I consider deaf characters or deaf people but it seems to for some.  

Deborah Lytton’s novel Silence has been described as a book about friendship and hope. It’s one of the most loving YA stories that I’ve read and it very much has to do with perseverance and well, loss… or perhaps more specifically, the actual coping of loss.  It isn’t what you might think. Yes, the story begins with Stella who has the most beautiful singing voice so that she actually (SPOILER ALERT) lands the lead in her school performance. She even has hopes of making it on Broadway. But then tragedy strikes (which is not hearing loss although that is the result). There is an accident resulting in Stella being unable to hear. What Stella finds difficult and what I found difficult to read about especially while having just had a Ménière's disease attack of vertigo, was how much the character had to cope with her own vertigo. So when I explain that Lytton’s book made me a little nauseous, please understand that this has nothing to do with the plot of her story or the author’s writing style. She was simply able to convey the reality of severe vertigo in just a few short scenes such as when Stella attempts to lace her shoes but pauses because she’s dizzy.

Stella’s loss is that of the future she thought was going to be possible. Joseph Campbell writes, “We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” Of course if anyone is going to have read Joseph Campbell in this book, it is Hayden.

Hayden is the guy with whom Stella has a crush. He is an outcast because he stutters. Hayden’s own loss is what leads him to help Stella cope with all of the changes she’s going through although honestly I think these two would have found their way to each other even without tragedy.

As far as Stella’s deafness, I think Lytton is able to show how an adolescent would cope. When I was 15 being diagnosed with Ménière's, my doctor told my family and me that I would never ride roller coasters again because of the vertigo and that I would most likely lose my hearing before I was 30. As a teen, I focused only on the roller coaster because to me that was the real tragedy. Family members especially our mothers (including Stella’s mother) focus more on the medical side. They cry while attempting to cheer you up because they are grieving the loss of the perceived futures of their children. Teens rely on their friends such as Hayden and his 17-day challenges while Stella is waiting for the processor for her cochlear implant. Lytton’s description of Stella receiving her processor and “hearing” is quite fair too but I don’t want to give away any more of the story than I have to.

I do feel that Stella is able to understand Hayden through lip-reading a little too easily and quickly. When the story begins, she has just met Hayden. They do not have a lifetime of knowing one another.  And while she struggles understanding family members and friends, Stella understands Hayden almost perfectly presumably because he stutters and that slows down his speech. To be fair, there is a good amount of communicating via text messaging.  Other than that, and other readers might either overlook this aspect or argue that I’m wrong which is perfectly alright,  I think this was a pretty honest portrayal of a girl losing her hearing. 

I enjoyed Stella and Hayden's alternating chapters so that readers can access each of their thoughts.  

*****Below is my interview with the author of Silence, Deborah Lytton*******
The author on Hayden and Stella's beach.
SP: What inspired you to include a deaf character in your novel?
DL: I had this dream of a story where the characters could listen without hearing and speak without words.  I wanted to tell a story about a girl who loses her hearing, and how becoming deaf challenges her to find herself. Stella begins the book very much focused on the way things sound. In fact, the first time she hears Hayden speak, she is disappointed because his voice isn’t beautiful to her ears. She changes into a much stronger and more complete person because she is deaf.   

SP: What research did you do to make your character believable?
DL: I began with research about head injuries and resulting sensorineural hearing loss. I read a lot of articles and interviewed a pediatrician and a pediatric nurse practitioner about my medical questions. Specialists from the House Ear Clinic answered specific questions from me about cochlear implants. I watched videos and read first-hand accounts from people having their implants programmed to understand what that experience would be like for Stella.

SP: What do you hope that readers will take away or learn from Silence?
DL: My greatest wish is that readers will find hope in the book. That they will relate to Stella and Hayden’s journeys to overcome obstacles in their lives and that this will inspire readers to seek their own voices.

SP: What advice do you have for young readers?
DL: Find your own voice in creativity. Paint, draw, take photographs, write stories or poems, dance, just express yourself. Your voice needs to be heard.
And keep reading!

SP: Anything you'd like to add...
DL: The most important lesson I have learned in becoming a writer is to never give up. If you believe in yourself and you keep going even when things seem impossible, you can accomplish anything.
Thank you, Sharon for bringing books to readers and for hosting me on your blog today.  
 For more information about the author including her fascinating background as an actor and singer (performing back up vocals for Belinda Carlisle and Frank Sinatra!) and her other books, visit:
To purchase the book, click the link below.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

New Kindle edition- Let's Play It By Ear

Let's Play It By Ear by Jared Lopatin
Paperback: 210 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (March 22, 2013) Kindle Version January 2015
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1483935582

Jackson Fearn has always been an exemplary student. He takes every assignment above and beyond the call of duty. So when he's given the assignment to behave as a person with hearing loss for two weeks, he goes all out, borrowing his roommate's hearing aids and communicating only through sign language. All is going well...until he meets Topher and tries dating. Despite the warnings of his friends and his attention-seeking sister, he decides to keep quiet about his hearing abilities. Secrets are okay if they're for school...right?

About the Author
Jared R. Lopatin is a native Philadelphian living in New York City. While his original plan was to be a professional actor, a chance conversation led him to graduate school to pursue a degree in Deaf Education. Enchanted by the new world he found, he immersed himself in the culture, moving in with Deaf roommates and taking a position as an instructional assistant at Lexington School for the Deaf. Now, he teaches high school writing, theatre, creative arts, and science. When he is not teaching or playing with his cats, he is writing. More information can be found at 

Monday, February 02, 2015

ALA announces Winners!

The American Library Association (ALA) announced the Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Newbery and Printz awards today during its Midwinter Meeting in Chicago.

The Newbery Medal is award to book for “the most outstanding contribution to children's literature”. This year there were two Newbery Honor books. One of the two named includes deaf author Cece Bell' s El Deafo. In September, I wrote a review for the Washington Post and posted this on this blog.

Bell is a children's author and illustrator who has written books such as Rabbit and Robot: The Sleepover (2014). El Deafo (2014) is her memoir that covers some pretty serious issues that can be found in other autobiographies written by deaf and hard of hearing authors. The graphic novel includes bunny people (just the ears unlike Rabbit and Robot that includes the main character with a bunny-body, teeth, etc.) who recount her childhood struggles with hearing loss. The story tackles the challenge of finding friends when you feel different; yet, the focus is on her ears and how they don’t function the way they did as “a regular kid”.

While it reads more like an adult memoir about the struggles of growing up with hearing loss, it is marketed to kids with recommended ages 8-12. As I mentioned previously, if you're not familiar with graphic novels, don't let the layout and pictures mislead you; they can contain some heavy content. For example, the cover illustration is of “El Deafo”, Cece’s alter ego, flying through a bright blue sky. Within the first few pages the colors are muted to sage and hospital blue as Cece contracts meningitis and subsequently loses her hearing. Bell portrays a frightening medical view of deafness with three separate panels depicting large needles, one being inserted into the child’s back. As always, I recommend that you screen the book before recommending it to any young person.

Another winner that I want to recognize is no stranger to this blog. The Coretta Scott King Book Award recognizes an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults. This year’s winner is Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. In 2007, I interviewed her about her book Feathers which includes Sean, the first African-American Deaf character who communicates through sign language in adolescent literature. I’m still not-so-secretly hoping that Sean will find his way in another one of Woodson’s books.

Congratulations to all of the winners! As always, I encourage you to all pick up your pens, pencils, typewriters, word processors, laptops, etc. and start writing! The portrayal of realistic deaf characters benefits young readers who wish to find character role models with whom they can relate and who wish to learn about a culture and community to which they may not have been previously exposed. These books can pique students’ interests so that they continue to read and learn about diverse cultures.